When it comes to producing original content, Amazon Instant Video is wasting no time making sure there is a surplus of programming to help catapult it into the ranks of Netflix and Hulu. Amazon’s last “pilot season” was only back in February, and the four shows that were picked up have yet to be seen (although Transparent just got a September 26 premiere date). Nevertheless, on Thursday the site will release five more pilots to the public for viewers to watch and rate — the ratings will help determine which shows Amazon will pick up. The new pilots feature dramas and comedies with a wide array of premises. None are immediately gripping but a few are worth your time. Here, we rank the five from best to worst.
Red Oaks (comedy)
Out of the three comedy pilots this season, Red Oaks is the best. It is a blend of familiar territory: a coming-of-age story, an ’80s period piece, a summer comedy set at a suburban job, a reflection on a parent’s health scare, etc. Yet it does a fine job of bringing together these elements to craft something sweet and funny. David Myers (Craig Roberts) is trying to figure out what to do with his life — his father wants him to be an accountant, but David’s more interested in something creative, it seems — while spending his last summer before college working at a country club.
The club members are predictably rich and obnoxious and the club employees are predictably teen stoners, but the archetypes feel somewhat fresh in the capable hands of Gregory Jacobs and Joe Gangemi. (It also helps that David Gordon Green directs the pilot). It’s the most broad and accessible of the five new Amazon pilots but, unlike last season’s The Rebels, this actually works for the show instead of against it.