Amazon Studios has taken something of an odd route to its current success as a Netflix streaming competitor. The studio launched in 2010 and put a new spin on pilot season: It produced several pilots, released them online, and essentially made pickup and cancellation decisions based on audience reaction. The first batch of pilots resulted in several pickups but no hits; only the John Goodman political show Alpha House lasted more than a year or two.
After that rocky launch, Amazon has had more success in the last couple of years, with Transparent emerging as an awards juggernaut and one of the most critically acclaimed shows on TV, and other shows like Mozart in the Jungle, Bosch and The Man in the High Castle drawing audience interest across multiple seasons as well. This fall has brought out some of the studio’s highest-profile new shows, including Woody Allen and Miley Cyrus’ Crisis in Six Scenes and comedian Tig Notaro’s autobiographical One Mississippi, along with a new season of Transparent. Now, we have news on three additional Amazon series.
Amazon Studios announced Tuesday that it has made series orders for three shows from its fall pilot season: The live-action adaptation of The Tick, the Jean-Claude Van Damme satirical action series Jean-Claude Van Johnson, and I Love Dick, the Kevin Bacon/Kathryn Hahn comedy/drama series from Transparent creator Jill Soloway. All three shows will debut full seasons in 2017 for Amazon Prime subscribers.
Here is the statement on the matter from Joe Lewis, Head of Half-Hour Series at Amazon Studios:
“These pilots were vast in scope, disruptive in tone, challenging in story and sometimes even funny. It’s rewarding to see customers embrace them in such a huge way. We can’t wait to premiere these series next year on Prime Video.”
The three very different shows certainly represent an ambitious slate for Amazon. This is the third attempt at a TV series about The Tick, but every indication is that the creative team, led by the character’s creator Ben Edlund, has the look and feel right this time. Jean-Claude Van Johnson sounds like an intriguing use of the longtime martial arts star, in the tradition of his movie JCVD. And Soloway is on the biggest roll of any TV showrunner this side of Shonda Rhimes, and it’s not hard to see why Amazon would want to stay in business with her - especially with her longtime muse Kathryn Hahn as part of the deal.
The only downside? It’s still incredibly difficult and counterintuitive to find Amazon’s original shows on its homepage. Amazon may be competing strongly with Netflix on content, but still has a lot of catching-up to do, interface-wise.
The Tick, I Love Dick and Jean-Claude Van Johnson will all make their series debuts on Amazon Prime in 2017.