Binge watching is now a worldwide trend now. Nowadays, people rarely have time to catch their favorite shows on TV every week, and DVR is too much of a hassle. Though most of you may have spent your weekends with Netflix watching “House Of Cards” or “Orange is the New Black,” some decided to use Hulu despite its annoying advertisements. Others went even further off-road and tried out Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime has introduced five new shows for its 2014 original pilot season and is asking its members to vote and help Amazon pick up their favorite shows for new episodes. I spent last weekend watching all the new pilots Amazon has to offer, and I experienced both satisfaction and disappointment. Let’s take a brief look at each of these new shows and what they have to offer.
Hand of God
“Hand of God,” starring Ron Perlman (from “Sons of Anarchy”) and Wesleyan alumna Dana Delany ’98 (from “Desperate Housewives”) is the frontrunner in Amazon’s new original lineup. It starts off with Pernell Harris (Perlman), a judge going through a mental breakdown, speaking in tongues in the middle of a public water fountain, naked. He has recently been baptized by a church named “Hand of God” and starts to believe that he has been born again to start a new life. His son, Pernell Harris, Jr., is in a coma, causing Harris to drift further apart from his wife, Crystal (Delany). Perlman delivers a strong performance, and his talent is highlighted by the powerful monologues he delivers during the hour-long episode. Although we are just briefly introduced to some characters from the church that Harris attended, their characterizations are well established. There are erotic sex scenes and intense fighting sequences that are surprisingly essential to the plot, and they build continuous momentum for what’s to come.
“Hand of God” analyzes and deals with the differences between justice and revenge and how they revolve around religion, politics, power, money, and sex. It’s a thought-provoking show that looks polished and ready to compete with its strong opponents on Netflix.
“…Boys have bigger boobs than girls? Right daddy? Because of your boobs?” the baby girl asks her father in the opening scene of “Really,” a show on which there is nothing to talk about other than sex. Even if you think the opening scene is not fulfilling your expectations of a show based solely on sex, don’t worry: only two scenes later, the baby girl catches her mother giving a blowjob to her father, and just a couple scenes later Mommy catches Daddy jerking off while fantasizing about another woman.
“Really” is a dark comedy that tells the story of a group of “closely-tied” families who only smoke pot and talk about sex when they get together. Unfortunately, it ends up being unrealistic, with too much swearing and sex. If you think that this show is for you, take my honest advice: you are better off watching porn.
“Red Oaks” is basically “American Pie” in the ’80s. It opens with the 20-year-old lead character, David Myers, playing tennis with his father while they talk about David’s poor performance in accounting class, only to witness his father having a mild heart attack and spit out what he thinks will be his last words, such as, “I think your mother’s a lesbian, or at least a technical bisexual.”
The plot is nothing close to original. A boy is trapped between a crazy mom and an even crazier dad while he spends his summer working in a country club named Red Oaks. The characters are all simple and cliché and the story never attempts to stay focused. That said, “Red Oaks” is a potential binge-watchable show that may entertain you without leaving any long-lasting emotional effects.
Among all the new pilots in Amazon’s lineup, “Cosmopolitan” was the one I was looking forward to the most, and I’m upset to say that my wait has officially gone to waste. “Cosmopolitan” tells the story of a group of young Americans living in Paris talking about their romantic and social life so verbosely that it will put you to sleep more than your early morning lecture classes do. It starts off with its main characters, including Adam Brody (“The O.C.”) discussing the breakup between one among them and a girl named Clemence. “Cosmopolitan” tries so hard to make you care for its characters, but after spending 30 minutes watching this episode, I didn’t care what happened to them next at all. Brody deserves a better show to lead after his memorable performance in “The O.C.”
“Hysteria” is a great example of what we call “hit or miss.” Right before it starts, you’re presented with the phrase “inspired by actual events,” giving you an inevitable sigh of letdown. “Hysteria” is a thriller about a doctor (Mena Suvari), who investigates an epidemic presumably linked to social media. This epidemic, in the form of seizures, can be spread by watching a video clip that ends up going viral on the Internet. The story is accompanied by a bold soundtrack building up a continuous suspenseful feeling, only to get hurt by the plot progressing very slowly. That being said, the premise of the show is solid. “Hysteria” has the potential to become a great show, but it may have trouble keeping its fans loyal by continuing its slow storytelling.
It looks like Amazon is taking the similar road HBO took on its way to making a revolution in TV, as all of its new pilots are directed toward different tastes. However, even with strong shows like “Hand of God,” Amazon has a long way to go to catch up with Netflix. That being said, it’s definitely providing new and innovative ways of collaborating with its members and involving them in its decision-making process.