Amazon Pilots Review: Dark Minions And Browsers Deliver Villains, Interns And Laughs
Amazon Studios has posted eight new comedy pilots at Amazon.com, which they are allowing viewers to watch and leave their feedback before the studio decides which of these projects will go to series. The greenlit projects will eventually go on to become part of Amazon Prime's original streaming content. We're taking a look at all of them and sharing our thoughts on each of them this weekend. Here are the reviews for Browsers and Dark Minions.
Written by: David Javerbaum (The Daily Show)
Starring: Dustin Ingram, Marque Richardson, Constance Wu, Chris Wood, Andrea Bendewald, Megan Heyn, Bebe Neuwirth
Browsers is a musical comedy. That needs to be said up front, however we do get an actual warning of the insertion of musical numbers, so those averse to seeing characters break out into song can quickly turn back without losing 25 minutes of their lives. Although, the warning is barely necessary as the pilot begins with a song. Though featured prominently, the music isn't really the biggest draw if this series. Browsers' strength is in the way it finds the humor in being young and just starting out in the workforce, and also in its focus on web trends and the digital age from the perspective of young professionals.
Set in New York City, the pilot introduces us to four young adults who have managed to score an internship at Gush, a hot new website. After singing their semi-optimistic song on their way to the office, they soon find out that one of them will be fired by the end of the week. The pressure is on, and so are the songs. Lots of songs. There wasn't anything in the pilot that I wished I had on my iPod, but the lyrics were witty, occasionally focusing on twitter and viral videos and other job-related subject matter. The core cast is funny and musically gifted enough to carry the tunes they're given, but the show's biggest strength among its cast is Bebe Neuwirth (How To Lose a Guy in 10 Days), the Miranda Priestly-esque boss at Gush, who will have the final say in who stays and who goes, and just about anything else that goes on at Gush. She's intimidating and a little bit scary in a humorous way, and her performance brings the whole show together. Like its music, Browsers aims for cute and catchy and in that respect, it hits the mark.
3 1/2 out of 5 Stars
Written by: Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Starring: Clancy Brown, Phil LaMarr, John Ross Bowie, Kevin Sussman
Dark Minions is a stop-motion animated comedy about two low-level minion slackers working on an intergalactic warship. The animation in the pilot isn't finished, which is unfortunate, as there were a couple of great vomit scenes that my bizarro sense of humor would've loved to see in stop motion. While we aren't quite seeing a finished product here in terms of the animation, we're assured that if the pilot goes to series, the show will be fully stop motion. What we do see of the animation is great, and the format lends itself particularly well to this kind of comedy.
The pilot episode introduces us to two minions who like to get high and swear a lot, and aren't entirely dedicated to their jobs as minions. The story sees them sent on a recon mission that puts them in the path of two rebels with whom they get along swimmingly. There isn't really much to the story, beyond their super-evil source of employment, which occasionally might plot to destroy a civilization, but the pilot's strength is in the humor. There's an Archer-esque quality to the comedy, with a hint of Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, except without the music but with a similar appreciation for villain-focused humor. And it's stop motion animation. I mentioned that already, but as I've developed an appreciation for stop-motion animation, I feel I need to emphasize that part, since we don't see a whole lot of that on television these days. The format alone wouldn't be enough for me to automatically endorse this pilot, but tied to the humor and the likable slacker characters, Dark Minions works.
4 out of 5 Stars
We'll have other reviews for Amazon's new pilots coming soon!
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