For the third time, Amazon Studios released a batch of pilot episodes whose fate as fully-produced seasons of television on Amazon Prime will be determined by, among other things, audience member response. With seven original series hopefuls this time around, we take a look at what the critics think. Could there be another Transparent in the works? Not likely, but some of these shows still have a fighting chance — and we’re guessing that you still have about two weeks to watch them and weigh in.
What It’s About: When 1998’s supermodel of the year, Salem Rogers (Leslie Bibb), finally gets the boot from her rehab facility after a decade, she reconnects with her former assistant (Rachael Dratch), who hopes to write an anti-bullying book based on the abusive relationship with her narcissistic, foul-mouthed boss.
What Critics Think: Even with its barrage of cliched insults, there is enough genuine shock value and funny chemistry between Dratch and Bibb to make Salem Rogers entertaining.
What It’s About: In Cocked, Wade Paxson (Brian Dennehy), the patriarch of a firearms empire, employs his hedonistic son Grady (Jason Lee) and do-gooder son Richard (Sam Trammell) to help take down a competing gun company run by Wade’s brother.
What Critics Think: Dennehy, Lee, and Trammell make the most of their characters, but the predictability of the story and the inability to address gun culture in America make Cocked a misfire.
What It’s About: Logan Wood (Josh Casaubon) is an affable pothead-turned-yogi who skates through life on his good looks and laid back charm — often to the dismay of his capable female co-workers.
What Critics Think: Though pleasantly breezy, Down Dog is neither funny enough, satirical enough, nor lively enough to be more than a tired wink at New Age stoners.
What It’s About: Based on the U.K. series The Bill, Mad Dogs features four 40-somethings (Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli, and Ben Chaplin) who travel to Belize to visit their mysteriously successful friend (Billy Zane), when their frat-boy fantasy takes a wicked turn.
What Critics Think: Exciting twists aside, Mad Dogs mostly squanders its rich landscape and far-too-talented ensemble of actors to make stale midlife-crisis observations.
What It’s About: Based on Philip K. Dick’s novel, The Man in the High Castle, this show of the same name tells an alternate history of the Axis Powers winning World War II and the resistance movement growing throughout America in the early ’60s.
What Critics Think: By executive producer Ridley Scott, The Man in the High Castle is unlike anything else on TV, with an immediately engrossing plot driven by quickly developed characters in a fully realized post-WWII dystopia.
What It’s About: The magazine come to life in docudrama form, The New Yorker Presents is a mix of profiles, cartoons, short films, and poetry.
What Critics Think: Though it can never live up to its parent publication in terms of purpose and cachet, many of the segments in The New Yorker Presents are classy, polished, and culturally educational.
What It’s About: Carlton Cuse takes on the Civil War by portraying a Virginian family who struggles with the idea of slavery while still fighting for the Confederacy.
What Critics Think: Anachronistic, schlocky, and downright offensive, Point of Honor mistreats an important historical subject with utter absurdity.
Have you watched any of the new Amazon pilots? Which ones would you like to see go to series? Let us know in the comments below.