Amazon released five new pilots — three comedies and two dramas — to Amazon Instant Video, their video-streaming service, last week. The catch? Only one series will be developed into a full season, and viewers are asked to vote on which show they believe deserves the series order. Here are WSN’s thoughts on all the pilots and which shows deserve your vote.
“The Cosmopolitans” is not revolutionary in theory. There are plenty of shows about young, white, upper-middle-class people complaining about life, though many do not star Adam Brody (“The O.C.”) or Chloë Sevigny (“Boys Don’t Cry”). But, like a fine rosé, this series hits all the right notes. Created by Whit Stillman, this show, about a group of Americans living in Paris, is in the same vein as Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris,” with an intelligent sense of humor and well-to-do protagonists. Stillman’s latest is a modern take on Parisian expat lifestyle that both celebrates and pokes fun at the famous City of Love. — Marcus Jones, staff writer
Craig Roberts (“Submarine”) leads the ensemble cast of “Red Oaks” as David, an assistant tennis instructor and NYU student who is spending his summer working at the preppy Red Oaks Country Club. Uncertain of his future, David gets by with a little help from his breezy girlfriend (Gage Golightly) and skeevy boss (Ennis Esmer) while butting heads with Getty (Paul Reiser), one of the club’s wealthiest members. Set in the 1980s, the Steven Soderbergh-produced and David Gordon Green-directed show is a comedy grounded in reality, lending it a “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” vibe. Roberts is wonderful as David and, with his boy-next-door charm and sensibilities, he will carry this series to critical acclaim. — Bizzy Emerson, contributing writer
Jay Chandrasekhar’s (“Dukes of Hazzard”) new Amazon original show helps one appreciate good television, because this is not it. Featuring Sarah Chalke (“Scrubs”) and a whole host of other sitcom veterans, “Really” tells the story of a group of 30-somethings trying to hang onto their youth by getting too drunk, smoking too much pot and attempting to spice up their sex lives, but what ensues is predictable and not funny. That the most amusing moment of the half-hour was when one of the characters drunkenly hits his head sums up the comedic aspirations of “Really.” Those in search of fresh ideas ought to look elsewhere. — Jack Barker, contributing writer
“Hand of God”
“Hand of God” follows Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman), a federal judge who is baptized by a conniving priest as a result of a psychotic episode and believes that God is speaking to him through hallucinations. Through these visions, he attempts to catch a rapist who has caused irreparable damage to his family. The premise is hardly believable, but Perlman proves reason enough to start watching, and the show’s strong supporting cast will make you want to stay, with Garret Dillahunt (“No Country for Old Men”) and Alona Tal (“Broken City”) as standouts. If picked up, the 70-minute Marc Forster-directed pilot sets up what will surely be one of the more bizarre and intriguing series to grace television’s new medium. — Jim Muntisov, contributing writer
When teenage dancers in Texas develop convulsions that spread to everyone who watches a video of the dancers spasming, neurologist Logan Harlen returns to her hometown to untangle both this mysterious malady and her own enigmatic past. Starring Mena Suvari (“American Beauty”), Josh Stewart (“CSI,” “Criminal Minds”) and T.R. Night (“Grey’s Anatomy”), “Hysteria” shows promise, but becomes a victim of its own convoluted plot. It ends up being unfortunately comical, despite an interesting commentary on society’s fascination with contagious diseases and obsession with social media. — Audrey Deng, contributing writer
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Sept. 9 print edition. Email the Arts Desk at [email protected]