Last year, Amazon Studios picked up only two of the five pilots they commissioned, “Alpha House” and “Betas.” Of those two, only “Alpha House” is still on the digital airwaves (The cancellation of “Betas” was buried in today’s pick up news.). This year, Amazon Studios again produced five pilots; “Mozart in the Jungle” (which I loved), “Bosch,” “The After,” “Rebels,” and “Transparent.” Only “Rebels” was not picked up. Officially, it is “on hold,” so maybe it will be produced at a later date. Or maybe “on hold” is just a nice way of saying no.
Looking at the four successful pilots, the upsurge in pick ups isn’t surprising. All of them have a bankable hook. “Mozart in the Jungle,” based on a book with the same title, is stacked with stars both in front and behind the camera. The pilot was written by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman, and Alex Timbers; and it stars Gael Garcia Bernal, Bernadette Peters and Malcolm McDowell among others. “Bosch,” starring Titus Welliver, is based on the popular Harry Bosch detective novels. Post-apocalyptic drama “The After” is the newest project from “The X-Files” creator Chris Carter. The pilot that has received the most buzz is Jill Soloway’s (“Six Feet Under,” “The United States of Tara”) “Transparent.” Starring Jeffrey Tambor, it is the tale of a neurotic LA family whose patriarch reveals they are transgender.
The second time around, Amazon Studios just may be giving Netflix a run for their money. Only time will tell if any of the four new series will be all everyone (including Emmy voters and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association) is talking about next year.