Amazon Studios has been going full throttle when it comes to releasing new and intriguing pilots every few months. Last year’s crop of pilots brought us one of the best new shows of 2014, with Jill Soloway’s Transparent, as well as the truly original and idiosyncratic comedy Mozart in the Jungle. To kick off 2015, Amazon has uploaded a whole new batch of pilots for viewers to watch and review. Unfortunately, most of them are strictly average — and a few are just plain terrible. Here are all of the comedies and dramas, ranked from worst to best.
I wish I could say that the only thing that Carlton Cuse’s Point of Honor has going for it are some pretty visuals, but the low budget makes it even an aesthetic failure. Everything else about it is at best boring and at worst offensive. It takes place at the beginning of the Civil War — though there are plenty of historical inaccuracies — and centers on a Virginia family whose son, John Rhodes (Nathan Parsons), decides to free all of his family’s slaves but also fight for the South.
Point of Honor is a Civil War/slavery narrative that puts the slaves second to the white family, placing the importance on the Rhodes family and how slavery affects them. They are sometimes made the victims in the story, such as when the mayor and a group of angry neighbors yell and threaten the three daughters for being sympathetic to the enemies. It’s dramatic and overwrought: the opening title sequence is awful, and the characters say things like, “They write in ink; we write in blood,” and, “Slavery is a stench in the nostrils of God.”
But mostly it’s just daft and cringe-worthy. The most telling scene of the entire hour-long pilot features a group of slaves rejoicing after their white saviors reveal that they’re being granted freedom. They cry and hug and sing “Amazing Grace.” It’s not just a gross cliche; it’s also disgusting absolution, a way to make these suddenly former slave owners (some of whom didn’t want to free the slaves) into something resembling heroes.