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 Betas and Supanatural.
Written by: Evan Endicott, Josh Stoddard
Starring: Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni
Betas begins with a moment straight out of Jurassic Park. A team of computer geniuses work in a place called Mind Hub next to a slovenly computer dude with the world’s messiest work space, chomping on some disgusting-looking cheetos ala Dennis Nedry. The rest of the plot is pretty dissimilar to Spielberg’s action epic, however, following four nerdy and unpopular dudes trying to push a brand new app out into the universe.
The comedy series isn’t the most outside-the-box production and it certainly doesn't have the best flow I’ve ever seen. However, it does employ one technological aspect that makes it very endearing. Google Earth is used to segue between scenes and show jumps from location to location. It’s fitting for a series that is mostly tech jokes and technological mumbo jumbo with a few references to pop culture thrown in.
Unfortunately, Betas offers mostly the latter. The series is a little light on the jokes thanks to constantly making it clear to its viewers that the four guys (well, at least three of them) are working hard to make a difference in Silicon Valley—a tough area to break into. However, the writing is clever and when the show does push the jokes, a couple of the concepts are downright hilarious, including one character calling a girl an “outlier” after she shoots him down in a bar. Keep an eye out for coarse jokes and nudity, however. You probably won’t see them coming.
Pilots are notoriously unreliable at explaining exactly what a show will bring to the table over the long haul, but the good news is that Betas, even in its early moments, never seems like a waste of time. It’s a charming comedy with plenty of unique characters (including a zany computer mogul played by Ed Begley, Jr.), and if fans give it a shot, it even has the potential to be very good.
3 out of 5 Stars
Written by: Price Peterson, Ryan Sandoval, Lily Sparks
Starring: Jameeliah Garrett, Lily Sparks, Kristen Schaal
Cartoons offer all kinds of strange premises, but I’m still reeling over what Supanatural brings to the table. Two low-class mall workers spend their free hours running around retrieving ancient and dangerous artifacts as well as saving the mall from the machinations of the world-ending artifacts. In the pilot, a crystal skull almost gets the better of the two women, but some fast thinking actually enables them to be the heroines of the week, although paying rent will still be a problem.
Animated programs are usually not concerned with reality and care more about caricature and wild premises than anything else. Sometimes this can be great. Animated shows can more easily achieve irreverent or unlikely premises because everything can be drawn and doesn’t need to be achieved in reality or CGI’d. Going on an adventure featuring talking crystal skulls, portals, mall cops on children’s train rides, and ancient ceremonies for destroying artifacts could be highly entertaining, but it never really works, here.
It’s not that Supanatural is too wild, it’s that it isn’t funny enough. A show can offer a cast with plenty of selfish, despicable characters--Archer does this pretty well in the animated world—but there have to be other reasons to get on board with the characters, via jokes or witty banter. There is plenty of banter in Supanatural, and it’s as fast-paced as an episode of The Gilmore Girls, but it isn’t amusing, much less laugh-out-loud funny. It’s just uncomfortable. Besides, Supanatural should know it has a problem when excellent voicework from Kristen Schaal doesn't really stand out.
1.5 out of 5 Stars
Amazing Race & Top Chef superfan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.
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