Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Amazon picks its original series

Start thinking about whether you want to sign up for another online streaming service, because Amazon has picked its original series. It chose only two of its eight comedy pilots -- "Alpha House" and "Betas" -- and three of its kids pilots. The shows were chosen based on feedback from customers, among other factors.

Strangely, the two Greek-letter comedies were my favorite and least favorite of the bunch. I quite enjoyed "Betas," about four Silicon Valley guys looking to make it big with their new app. On the flip side, I really did not like "Alpha House," which stars John Goodman as one of four Republican senator house-mates in Washington.

The kids shows are "Annebots," about a girl scientist and her robots; "Creative Galaxy," about an alien artist; and "Tumbleleaf," about an adventure-seeking fox. I didn't check out any of these, seeing as I have no children, but their existence in Amazon's crowd-sourcing scheme commanded my thoughts for a while.

If you're going to pick shows based on the opinions of viewers, children's shows make way more sense than comedies, whose success can be reliant on taste and other intangibles. But from what I gather from friends and family who have kids, parents seem to want more specific things -- educational, moral, age-appropriate -- from the shows they allow their children to watch. They put a lot of thought into this kind of stuff. My dog-sitter recently told me about the trail of movies he and his wife were going through trying to find a replacement for some sort of mildly violent penguin show that their daughter loved. Is it the penguins she likes, or the movement on screen? "Happy Feet" fell flat; let's try "Wall-E."

Which is all to say, crowd-sourcing kids shows is a fantastic idea. Parents are picky, so let them choose.

The shows will be available on Prime Instant Video starting later this year and in early 2014.

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