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Thursday
Aug282014

Amazon Pilots: "Hand of God" 

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!

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Reader Comments (10)

"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!"

So wait, does that mean that As Above/So Below and The Identical /aren't/ gonna be huge prestige contenders? :O

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKacey

I really need Fall Prestige Season too!

Have you been following Masters of Sex? Such a strange season. So many ups and downs. Why are they rushing things that way?

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

"Why are they rushing things that way?"

I would say because they plan to cover about 35 years in about eight seasons (if the show remains successful). I loved the time jumps.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

35 years? 8 seasons? Does it mean it will end with Lizzy Caplan covered in prosthetic makeup?

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

To combat a late summer TV slump, for Netflix subscribers, I highly recommend catching up with shows/mini-series like:
Luther
Adventure Time
Les Revenants (France, The Returned)

and the excellent and newly released (on Netflix):
Happy Valley (which also reminds me of another good U.K. mini-series, Collision)

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

Always excited to see more Dana Delany, and I'm curious to see more of Alona Tal post-Veronica Mars

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterMargaret

Peggy Sue: At a screening/Q&A I attended, the showrunners said they wanted to do the whole book, the whole relationship. But plans change. ;-)

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPaul Outlaw

Forgot to add that Hand of God reminded me a bit of Carnivale (or it's just that I always get Clancy Brown mixed up with Ron Perlman.) Dana Delaney looks fantastic, as always!

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterPam

While this sounds like something I might watch and enjoy if it went to series, I don't like the whole concept of Amazon's pilot season. Either give me a series to watch, or don't!

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

I'm interested in the Whit Stillman series with Chloe Sevigny, but I hope overall Amazon is investing more in their series this year. I tried to watch that Garry Trudeau series with John Goodman last year, and I couldn't get through more than a few episodes because it just seemed so chintzy compared to Netflix or cable.

August 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterSuzanne

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