Amazon.com confirmed full-series pickups of four shows – including supernatural drama “The After” from Chris Carter (“X-Files”) — plus two kids’ original series and a second season of “Alpha House” starring John Goodman for its Prime Instant Video service.
As previously reported by Variety, the Internet retailer greenlit two hour-long dramas “The After” (pictured above) and cop show “Bosch,” and two half-hour comedies, “Mozart in the Jungle” and “Transparent,” out of a pool of 10 shows in its second wave of pilots. Those are going into production and will launch on the subscription VOD service either later in 2014 or early 2015, Amazon Studios director Roy Price said.
In addition, Amazon ordered a pair of children’s skeins: live-action series “Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street,” aimed at kids 6-11, and preschooler-targeted “Wishenpoof!” from “Blue’s Clues” co-creator Angela Santomero. This summer, Amazon will premiere its first three kids’ series: Santomero’s “Creative Galaxy,” stop-motion series “Tumble Leaf” and live-action “Annedroids.”
Of the 10 pilots launched in February, four are getting passed over: “The Rebels,” a sports comedy about a widow who inherits a pro football team, and kids’ shows “Hardboiled Eggheads, “The Jo B. & G. Raff Show” and “Maker Shack Agency.” And while Amazon was pleased enough with the results for political comedy “Alpha House” that it’s bringing it back for a second season, the Silicon Valley-set “Betas” is not being renewed. Those two shows were Amazon Studios’ first full series, launched in November.
“Unfortunately you have to make tough decisions,” Price said, adding that “I’d love to figure out something else for ‘Betas.’”
Amazon Studios said viewing for the second pilot wave was up more than double its first group of pilots last year (but wouldn’t give out actual figures, except to note that 6,099 users gave Garry Trudeau’s “Alpha House” the top five-star rating, out of 10,873 who have rated the show overall, for an average of 4.1 out of 5). Like Netflix, Amazon does not reveal viewing data aside from relative rankings. For part of Q4, “Alpha House” was the most popular TV show on Prime Instant Video.
Price noted that of the adult-focused pilots, “The After” and “Bosch” elicited particularly sizable — and generally positive — feedback from those who weighed in on the pilots. “Bosch” had 4.6 average with 17,877 total ratings and “The After” pilot scored a 3.9 out of 5 with 22,254 reviews. “When you have anything with a large fan base, they can be pretty specific,” he said.
Said Carter, “The great news is we get the chance to continue working with such a talented group of people. Amazon has been incredibly supportive in their approach to telling original stories and making great television. This is an exciting time to be a storyteller.” Added Connelly: “This has been such a long time coming. But by waiting I think the right people and partnerships came together at the right time.”
But user feedback is not the deciding factor in whether Amazon Studios picks up a series. For example, “The Rebels” earned a 4.2 average rating — beating “Transparent,” which had a 4.0 score. (“Mozart in the Jungle” turned in a 4.3.)
Amazon will shoot “The After,” “Bosch,” “Mozart in the Jungle” and “Transparent” in 4K Ultra HD format, which provides 3840-by-2,60-pixel resolution (four times full HD). Company had previously announced it would produce 2014 originals in 4K.
Here are descriptions of Amazon Studios’ 2014-15 new series (so far):
“The After”: Follows eight strangers who are thrown together by mysterious forces and must help each other survive in a violent world “that defies explanation.” Written and directed by Carter; executive producer is Marc Rosen of Georgeville Television and Gabe Rotter is producer. Starring Aldis Hodge, Andrew Howard, Arielle Kebbel, Jamie Kennedy, Sharon Lawrence, Jaina Lee Ortiz, Adrian Pasdar and Louise Monot.
“Bosch”: Based on Michael Connelly’s best-selling book series about a relentless LAPD homicide detective. Connelly and Eric Overmyer (HBO’s “The Wire”) will co-write the series, which features Titus Welliver, Annie Wersching and Jamie Hector. Henrik Bastin and Fabrik Entertainment (“The Killing”) are producing.
“Mozart in the Jungle”: Comedic drama about sex, drugs and classical music, that shows what happens behind the curtains can be just as captivating as what happens on stage. Returning cast includes Gael Garcia Bernal, Saffron Burrows, Lola Kirke, Malcom McDowell, Bernadette Peters and Peter Vack. Series will be scribed by Roman Coppola, actor and musician Jason Schwartzman, writer-director Alex Timbers, and Paul Weitz.
“Transparent”: Dramedy about an L.A. family with serious boundary issues from Jill Soloway (“Afternoon Delight,” “Six Feet Under” and “United States of Tara”). Returning cast includes Jeffrey Tambor, Judith Light, Gaby Hoffmann, Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass.
“Alpha House” Season 2: Senators-turned-roomies will once again be shaking hands, kissing babies and bunking up. Returning cast John Goodman, Mark Consuelos, Clark Johnson and Matt Malloy will reprise their roles as Republican Senators living in a D.C. townhouse. Production on season two is scheduled to begin this summer. Written by Garry Trudeau and produced by Trudeau, Elliot Webb and Jonathan Alter.
“Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street”: Live-action adventure show created by David Anaxagoras, a preschool teacher and first-time writer who was discovered through Amazon Studios’ open-door submission process. Series is a coming-of-age tale that centers around Gortimer, his two best friends Ranger and Mel, and their exploits on Normal Street — an ordinary suburban neighborhood that has a hint of something magical just beneath the surface.
“Wishenpoof!”: Animated series that revolves around Bianca, who has ability to make her wishes come true. If she wishes she’s a mermaid — poof! — she’s swimming around with the seahorses. Bianca uses her wish magic to help others and learns to solve life’s problems in her own creative. Show is from Santomero, creator of “Blue’s Clues,” “Super Why!” and Amazon Studios’ forthcoming “Creative Galaxy.”