Someone needs to have a long talk with Amazon about trying to compete with Netflix and the like with their original programming. Very first step (once you have content) is to make it accessible and advertise it. Advertise it AT LEAST on your own website where you have millions of shoppers. I'm a good case study. Ever since speaking with Dana Delany, a guest star here last month, I've been eager to see her new pilot that she and I talked about offline "Hand of God". I go to Amazon a lot and I've been wondering when advertisements would pop up for it and they never did. I had to search for it specificially and then once I was searching I had to instinctively know to click on a very small ad that said "Amazon Pilots" above the actual search results that showed me old attempts at original programming. They produced five new show possibilities but will any of them go to series if people don't know where to watch them?
Get it together Amazon or you're never going to be able to compete with Netflix!
For what it's worth, Hand of God was a gripping hour of television if, and this is an important caveat, you can stomach one more antihero show. (There are just so many of them). Ron Perlman stars and gets a pretty great 'WTF who/what is this?' opening scene for both a character and the pilot itself, beginning as it does with him naked in water, speaking in tongues. Turns out he's a very powerful judge who is losing it and whose son is in a coma. The Judge believes God is speaking to him and ordering him on a vengeance mission. We meet a ton of characters, none of whom appear to be entirely trustworthy.
Cons: Some of the expository bits were clunky (as they often are in pilots) and there was one subplot too many for a first hour. There are dozens of ways it could go wrong, mostly with overstatement; the Hand of God ministries scenes felt way too easy with immoral con-artist smarminess. Pros: But, that said, the pilot was well-acted stuff with at least two absolutely discomfiting and psychologically explosive scenes that manage to mess with multiple character's psyches. If the show continues it should look to the electric tension between the core family members (Perlman, Delany and Alona Tal as their daughter in law) and readjust the simplistic extremes of the peripheries. Film director Marc Forster (Monster's Ball, World War Z, Finding Neverland) produced and directed and it's the kind of pilot that wisely whets the appetite while also feeling like a full chapter. The best reason to give it a try is the cast: Perlman is memorably unpredictable, Delany simmers with barely-veiled contempt, and among the supporting actors there's the always watchable Garret Dillahunt as a volatile born-again convict and Emayatzy Corinealdi (so great recently in Middle of Nowhere) as a high-priced call girl.
Hand of God and four more pilots (including one collegiate comedy starring "Assjuice" himself, Craig Roberts from this summer's Neighbors) are available for viewing now at Amazon. If in the Emmy aftermath, if you're ready for the new Fall TV season, have at them. As for myself, I'm so eager to get back to movies but August has been dull in that regard. Come rescue me, Fall Prestige Season, I need you!