While it will likely never catch up to Netflix in abundance of original programming, Amazon Studios took little time coming into its own with its first handful of series, including the stellar Transparent. The company announced today that the critically acclaimed comedic drama Mozart in the Jungle has been renewed for a second season, while five of its latest pilot season candidates were given full series orders, including the excellent Man in the High Castle and Mad Dogs.
Created and executive produced by Roman Coppola, Jason Schwartzman and About a Boy’s Paul Weitz, Mozart in the Jungle is based on the memoir from oboist Blair Tindall, and follows charismatic conductor Rodrigo DeSousa (Gael Garcia Bernal) as he arrives to take over an orchestra, with mixed results. Amazon confirmed the series will be bringing back Bernal, as well as co-stars Malcolm McDowell as the award-winning maestro Thomas, Saffron Burrows as the magnificent cellist Cynthia, and Lola Kirke as the rising star oboist Hailey. One has to wonder if this will inspire any more series about symphonies or classical music.
Based on the British series of the same name, Mad Dogs was developed for the U.S. by The Shield and Terriers creator Shawn Ryan, and it packs the same amount of intensity and dark humor. It stars Steve Zahn, Romany Malco, Michael Imperioli and Ben Chaplin as best friends all taking a trip out to visit an old friend in his villa in Belize. It’s supposed to be a luxuriously carefree vacation, but old wounds are reopened as new ones are made, and it’s clear that the old friend, played by Billy Zane, didn’t acquire his riches in a legal manner. I cannot wait to see where this story goes.
One of the most unique TV series concepts ever, The Man in the High Castle is an alternative history thriller based on the award-winning novel by Philip K. Dick. With a pilot that was watched by more people than any of Amazon’s other pilots, this series proposes that Germany and Japan won World War II, and that both of those countries have taken over respective U.S. coasts, while the middle of the nation is like the wild west. Starring Alexa Davalos, Luke Kleintank, Rupert Evans and Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (among others), The Man in the High Castle kicks its story off with a dying Adolf Hitler, a set of controversial film reels, and characters willing to do anything for their cause. There is nothing else out there like this show.
Additionally, Amazon put an order in for the docu-series The New Yorker Presents, with a pilot that featured several different kinds of media presentations, including a short film, a poem reading, a doc segment, and an interview. The company also ordered full series of the kids shows Just Add Magic, a cooking-based-magic show based on the books of the same name, and The Stinky and Dirty Show, which is about a garbage truck and a backhoe loader doing things that preschoolers will like.
Audiences can expect to find Season 2 of Mozart in the Jungle later this year, with the other five series hitting either this year or in early 2016.