Amazon Studios this morning officially ordered its first original series, giving series pickups to comedy pilots Alpha House starring John Goodman and Betas, which received the call 10 days ago, and kids pilots Annebots, Creative Galaxy and Tumbleaf. The five series will air exclusively on Prime Instant Video later this year and in early 2014. The shows came out of Amazon’s inaugural slate of 14 pilots — eight comedies and six kids shows — that were made available online on April 19.
The series pickup decisions were based in part on feedback from viewers in the U.S. and the UK. “We are thrilled at the enthusiastic customer response to our first original pilots,” said Amazon Studios director Roy Price, indicating that the company will continue to make its pilots available to the public. “We built Amazon Studios so that customers could help decide which stories would make the very best movies and TV shows. It’s exciting to see the process in motion, doing exactly what we set out to do. The success of this first set of pilots has given us the push to try this approach with even more shows — this is just the beginning.”
Alpha House, which stars Goodman,was written by Oscar nominee and Pulitzer winner Garry Trudeau and produced by Elliot Webb and Jonathan Alter, is a comedy about four misfit senators-turned-unlikely roommates (Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos) who rent a house together in Washington DC. “We’re thrilled to have emerged safely from this harrowing exercise in online democracy,” said Trudeau. “All of us at Alpha House thank both Amazon and its wise and wonderful customer base for such a happy outcome. As the future of episodic TV packs up and moves to Seattle, we hope the audience will continue to have as much fun watching the show as we have making it.”
Set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups, Betas, written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. Ed Begley Jr, Jon Daly, Joe Dinicol, Charlie Saxton and Karan Soni star. Michael Lehmann will direct and produce along with Emmy winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen, and Osacr nominee Michael London. “After many sleepless nights scrutinizing the number of stars we were getting online, we’re excited that both Amazon and the Amazon customers have given us a vote of confidence to move forward with a full season of Betas,” said London. “This is only the beginning for our young social media players and we are excited to push them out in the big world to see if they sink or swim.”
Creative Galaxy is an animated interactive art adventure series designed to inspire kids creative thinking through crafts, story, music and dance. The series was created by Angela Santomero, creator of Blue’s Clues and the Emmy-nominated literacy series Super Why!. “It’s really rewarding to hear that customers loved Creative Galaxy. It has been a passion project for me to bring the best arts and creativity to kids with Amazon, and I’m so excited that kids are going to be able to enjoy a full season of the show early next year,” said Santomero. “We need more innovative kids programming that puts a strong emphasis on creativity and education. I’m proud and honored to be collaborating with Amazon to make these shows for kids.”
Annebots revolves around Anne, a young scientist, who creates three robot helpers to assist her scientific experiments in the back of her dad’s junkyard. This science-based series from creator J.J. Johnson aims to introduce kids to science and technology in a fun, new way.
Tumbleaf was created by Drew Hodges and Kelli Bixler of Bix Pix Entertainment, the award-winning stop motion studio. The series, aimed at preschoolers, is set in a whimsical land where a small blue fox named Fig plays each day and discovers adventure, friendship and love around every bend. Children will be enriched by narratives that promote play through exploration and scientific thinking.
Customer reactions to Amazon’s pilots:
· “A political comedy from the mind of Garry Trudeau starring John Goodman with a cameo from Bill Murray. Needless to say this show has a lot of potential and I can’t wait for more episodes.”
· “John Goodman shines in this series. Love the supporting cast. The show is intelligent, funny and unique. Can’t wait for more shows!”
· “This show was witty and fun. The actors are great and they are what initially drew me to the show. I would definitely watch if the pilot was given the green light.”
· “If this show doesn’t continue, I don’t know what I will do. I was hooked from the very beginning! I need to know if the boys sell their app! I need them to beat Valet Me!”
· “The characters are great. The humor is witty, dry and hilarious. The premise for the show is not too complicated and when it ended, I immediately wished that I had another episode to watch. Can’t wait for a full season. Great show!”
· “No laugh track. Believable characters. The very real awkwardness. No Cheesecake Factory jokes. And a surprising cameo by Moby. What’s not to like?”
· “I think this could be a big hit. We always need top quality children’s shows that inspire and teach in a fun and exciting way. I also like that the show will have its own web page. Could be the best idea in childrens programing since Sesame Street.”
· “Both my five and seven-year-old girls loved this. When they watched the preview and saw that there would be apps to go along with the shows they flipped out and thought that was the best thing ever. I would surely pay for apps that go along with the show for their Kindles.”
· “Our family loved the pilot of Annebots. We have two girls, seven and 10, and they both were disappointed when the pilot ended. They wished it was longer and there were more episodes to watch. We discussed why a pigeon needs a rocket to fly and decided it was in order to fly fast. We also enjoyed the ‘eyes’ machine and discussed how cool it would be to have one. Please make more episodes.”
· “My three-year-old loves this episode. He has it completely memorized. We need more Creative Galaxy as soon as possible! As a teacher, I love the vocabulary and the way it fosters imagination and ideas!”
· “My kids (six and three-years-old) LOVE this show! The show makes art and creativity very accessible and relevant to kids’ everyday lives! Loved it and I can’t wait to see it fully animated!”
· “Absolutely loved the idea of this show and the message it teaches kids. Refreshing to see a show that focuses on the importance of art as a problem solving tool. Very cute and would hope to see more!”
· “Gorgeous animation with so much appeal. My children were hooked. It’s a pilot, but I’m hoping for a full series. Watch it!”
· “This show is such a breath of fresh air! Its gorgeous animation and art direction, as well as the valuable life lessons it teaches, are sure to make it a loved show by all. I love that stop motion is being utilized to help bring these magical characters to life, it makes them feel so real and tangible. I vote YES! I would love to see more of these special characters and the stories they tell.”
· “Beautiful, kid-friendly animation with great, imaginative characters and a fun storyline. Kids of all ages will love this show—love the Pine character especially :) Hope we get to see more than a pilot!”
TV Editor Nellie Andreeva - tip her here.