VOD Review: Amazon Prime Pilot Series
aka. The Prime Directive
We look at all three of the survivors of Amazon Prime’s Pilot program and decide if any of these pilots have the right stuff to buzz our towers.
To boldy go… to our couches. And watch TV.
Amazon recently unveiled its pilot program wherein viewers can watch the full first episode of a series and fill out a survey about what they liked. Whether this survey had any real effect on what stayed and what went has been a sore spot with some, as the Pilot program has been the most confusing and opaque process since Destiny’s loot system. Maybe because of this, all three contenders this time around are rumored to get the green light. Let’s check em out and see what they’re all about.
The internet collectively splooshed when news came out that the Tick, a fan favorite cartoon and live action series from the 90’s was getting a reboot. Their panties got drier than an Amish Wedding reception when they saw production stills of the new Tick suit however.
Originally created as an advertisement for a local comic shop by Ben Edlund, the impervious and quite decidedly insane superhero called The Tick quickly got his own comic, then his own cartoon and finally a short lived live-action series on Fox. Both a loving tribute to comic culture and bizarre sendup of superheroes, the Tick featured the blue buffoon and his cast of C-list superfriends fighting ridiculous super-ish villains, often doing more harm than good.
The Tick’s sidekick Arthur seems to be the only sane one around, and by that I mean he only has crippling fear and a catch phrase of “not in the face!” working against him. Could this reboot keep fans of the cult classic character satisfied while bringing in a large enough audience to avoid meeting it’s predecessor’s fate?
The Verdict: SPOOON????
This is not your father’s Tick (although Arthur might share your father’s nervous tic). That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but fans of the previous outings might have some difficulty adjusting. While the Tick has all of his trademark goofiness and asinine banter, the world the blue galoot occupies is decidedly darker. Arthur is obsessed with catching the Terror, and does his best impression of Jim Carrey in The Number 23. Having witnessed both his father and this world’s take on the Fantastic Four die right in front of his eyes, he’s less the wimpy voice of reason from the cartoon and more a walking case of PTSD. So much so that you wonder for most of the pilot if the Tick isn’t just a fabrication of his off-medication mind.
It’s not nearly as dark as anything DC is pooping out, and maybe it went for dark humor in part to spoof that trend, but the other series always hid the darker bits under the kid’s fare. I hear it hews more closely to the comics, but I can’t verify that as finding digital versions of the comic online is harder than finding a watchable Uwe Boll movie. I didn’t watch the TV show much, but I loved the cartoon (and Eek! The Cat that often followed the Tick on Fox’s last hurrah to Saturday morning cartoons) so I’m intrigued but not in love with the first episode. It might take some time for this Tick to burrow under my skin.
I Love Dick
I can’t believe writing that didn’t put a smile on my face (spoiler: neither did watching this show). Starring Kevin Bacon’s brand reputation, we follow a frustrated filmmaker and her writer husband as they trek out to the middle of nowhere to attend a writing seminar hosted by Bacon’s Guru. They are both NYC bohemian brats. They are such insufferable assholes that I bet you they single-handedly gentrified an entire block of Brooklyn themselves. The twist is that both of them are seduced by Bacon.
The Verdict: Burn it with fire, then burn the ashes.
I can’t understand the obsession with navel gazing narcissists. She’s in her late thirties/early forties, and he’s old enough to get a discount on his coffee, but they both act like disaffected adolescents. It’s always about themselves, they have no concern for each other or anyone else, and I’d rather watch a Girls marathon while getting a Starbucks organic free trade enema then suffer through another “care about horrible people’s sex lives” series.
Jean-Claude Van Johnson
In this bizarro universe, B-movie action stars are actually secret agents doing wetwork all around the world while making such gems as an action packed reboot of “Tom Sawyer”. N-word Jim is mostly definitely a recurring joke. As is JCVD’s insistence that Time Cop was a more serious time travel film than Looper. After a falling out with his one time love interest and handler Vanessa, JC has hung up both the acting and secret agent lifestyle. Until he runs into Vanessa at a bar famous for serving un-hydrated Ramen noodles. He learns that she is still in the game, and having realized that losing her was his biggest mistake, he seeks to return to glory: in movies, in contracting, and in her heart.
The Verdict: It will spinning back kick its way into your heart.
In the first seconds of this pilot we see a smug Van Damme about to confront a rush of security guards by using his signature “I do a split then punch your dick through your skull”. He fails to do the split because he’s washed up and then takes a glorious slow motion baton to the face. So far so good.
This pilot reminded me of Tom Cruise’s masterful turns in Tropic Thunder and Edge of Tomorrow. Realizing that a large percentage of the audience hates your guts, you steer into the skid. Half the time JC is getting his smug, oversexed, and always on display ass handed to him. The other half we get to watch him deal with being a has-been in life and love. Each instance of eating crow helps to build empathy for the times he stops being his image and starts being human. Also, the premise is great, and the in-jokes about 80’s style action movies in a world that has moved on to MMA and Jason Bourne are spot on.
Of all three of these pilots, this one was the only one that hit the ball out of the park in just one episode. If I had had only one vote, I’m sorry Tick, but JC would have flash kicked your face off while the ghost of Raul Julia screamed “Game… OVER!!!”.