Amazon has picked up all three of its primetime comedy pilots that went up for public review in August: The Tick, I Love Dick and Jean-Claude Van Johnson.
That despite Amazon’s own programming chief describing his new half-hour pick-ups as only “sometimes even funny.”
Such is the state of “comedy” in TV in 2016.
As Jimmy Kimmel said of Amazon’s Emmy-winning Transparent during this month’s Emmy Awards, it “was born a drama, but identifies as a comedy.”
“These pilots were vast in scope, disruptive in tone, challenging in story and sometimes even funny,” said Joe Lewis, Head of Half-Hour Series, Amazon Studios. “It’s rewarding to see customers embrace them in such a huge way. We can’t wait to premiere these series next year on Prime Video.”
You can watch all three pilots still online if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber, as I did last month. I Love Dick certainly fits into Amazon’s artistic approach to the half-hour, as seen with Transparent and Mozart in the Jungle. The Tick is a live-action reboot of the popular animated series, with Peter Serafanowicz as our hero and Griffin Newman his recruited sidekick. My only complaint of the pilot was that it felt like moved too slowly. And Jean-Claude Van Johnson is supposed to be a meta-parody of Jean-Claude Van Damme, playing both himself and a secret undercover agent. OK. But if I hear one more character on that show call him “JC” I’m going to learn how to do the splits again so I can kick everyone in the mouth. It’s all a bit too much. But you JC fans won’t mind, right?
Here are official synopses for the new Amazon comedies, debuting full seasons in 2017:
Adapted from the cult classic, I Love Dick–referred to as “the most important book about men and women written in the last century” (Emily Gould, The Guardian)–is set in a colorful intellectual community in Marfa, Texas. Chris (Kathryn Hahn, Transparent) and Sylvere (Griffin Dunne, Dallas Buyers Club) arrive in Marfa when Sylvere is offered a fellowship to finish a book he’s been writing on the Holocaust. When they meet Dick (Kevin Bacon, The Following), he taunts their imaginations and upends their preconceptions about love and monogamy. An exploration of the female gaze and how we tell stories about love and desire, I Love Dick charts the evolution of a marriage, the awakening of an artist and the deification of a writer named Dick. I Love Dick is executive produced by Jill Soloway (Transparent), Andrea Sperling (Transparent), and Sarah Gubbins (Ten Aker Wood). The pilot was directed by Soloway and written by Gubbins.
If you need to eliminate a political rival, debilitate a multinational corporation, or overthrow an entire government–and you need it done with the utmost secrecy–there’s only one person to turn to: one of the most internationally recognizable movie stars in the history of film. Jean-Claude Van Johnson stars Jean-Claude Van Damme (JCVD) playing “Jean-Claude Van Johnson,” a global martial arts and film sensation…and, operating under the simple alias of “Johnson,” the most dangerous undercover private contractor in the world. Lucky for the world’s bad guys, he’s been retired for years…unlucky for them, a chance encounter with a lost love is about to bring him back to the game…and this time, he’ll be deadlier than ever. Probably.
The pilot for Jean-Claude Van Johnson starred Van Damme along with Kat Foster (Your Family or Mine), Moises Arias (The Middle), and Phylicia Rashad (Creed). The show is executive produced by Peter Atencio (Key and Peele), Ridley Scott (The Good Wife), David W. Zucker (The Man in the High Castle) and Van Damme. From Scott Free Productions, the pilot was directed by Atencio, and written and created by Dave Callaham (Mortal Kombat).
In a world where superheroes have been real for decades, an underdog accountant with zero powers comes to realize his city is owned by a global super villain long-thought dead. As he struggles to uncover this conspiracy, he falls in league with a strange blue superhero. The pilot for The Tick starred Peter Serafinowicz (Guardians of the Galaxy), Griffin Newman (Vinyl), Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen), Valorie Curry (House of Lies), Yara Martinez (Jane the Virgin) and Brendan Hines (Scorpion). The Tick is executive produced by Ben Edlund (Supernatural), Barry Josephson (Bones) and Barry Sonnenfeld (A Series of Unfortunate Events), directed by Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight), and written by Edlund. The Tick is a co-production with Sony Pictures Television.