Amazon Is Doing This ‘Original Content’ Thing All Wrong

Posted by on April 19, 2013 at 9:54 am
Seems like a lot of these Amazon series are also DOA.

Seems like a lot of these Amazon series are also DOA.

There’s a reason why Ted Sarandos is getting all kinds of attention: as Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, he’s bringing some really good original content to the company. House of Cards could’ve swept any awards show, but as a web-exclusive series (for now), it doesn’t qualify for any of them. Beloved comedy series Arrested Development is right around the corner has the collective interest of millions of original fans, plus many others that picked up the show after it was cancelled. So what is Amazon doing to create a robust portfolio of exclusive shows? Scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Today Amazon introduced fourteen pilots for potential series that it could potentially turn into full series. I’d intended to just review the Zombieland series and call it a day, but twenty-eight minutes of that left me with little to say that’d be worth your time. Instead, I also took a shot at another show, Those Who Can’t, a Workaholics-in-a-high-school setup written and performed by The Grawlix, a comedy trio out of Denver.

Zombieland is pretty terrible. I’d set my sights even lower after the trailer released and was still disappointed by how bland it was. The meta-humor is tired, the performances look like the actors are line-reading, and Kirk Ward’s Tallahassee is that archetypical eighties-era John Candy-ish loudmouth – with all due respect to the late John Candy – that’s ready to bust into a Ronald Reagan impression at any moment. If it weren’t for the fact that he’s in virtually every scene, destroying the delicate role that Woody Harrelson pulled off so well in the film, the show might have survived. It doesn’t.

Those Who Can’t aims a little higher, which is the slight bump I needed. Co-produced by 3 Arts Entertainment, who also brought us It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, you’ll be happier with one of their worst episodes than this debut effort, but with some tune-ups, it’s obvious that this series could go places. Here, a trio of idiotic high school teachers seek revenge on a douchebag jock by planting drugs in his locker. Hilarity ensues!

So now we go back to why Ted Sarandos is famous, a Time 100 guy. It’s because he writes big checks, ensuring quality content. Amazon is almost crowd-sourcing their efforts and picking the least runty of the litter, but these are not fine specimens, they’re almost tragic. They’re casting a large net and there’s only rocks coming back up. Maybe of these fourteen submissions, there’s a winner. Maybe more than one, I don’t know. If Amazon passes on all of them, I hope they could somehow learn from Netflix and just pull out Bezos’ checkbook instead of hitting in the Minor Leagues.

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