Amazon offers dark comedy, historical drama in new pilot series lineup

Amazon's got lit on its mind for pilot season. 


Audra Schroeder


Published Nov 11, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 5:45 am CDT

Earlier this year, Amazon Studios released its latest slate of original programming pilots for green-light approval, and Jill Soloway’s Transparent ended up becoming a runaway success. Today, Amazon announced the latest slate of pilots for 2015, and it’s hoping to have another breakout hit.

Seven new pilots will premiere early in 2015, including The Man in the High Castle, Cocked, Mad Dogs, Point of Honor, Down Dog, Salem Rogers, and The New Yorker Presents docuseries. Perhaps the most anticipated pilot in this new lineup, at least for sci-fi fans, is the pairing of X-Files writer Frank Spotnitz and producer Ridley Scott with the screen adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s 1962 novel The Man in the High Castle, which was announced back in July. The series will reimagine a United States that lost World War II and is now divided between Japan and Germany. Scott’s apparently been trying to make this adaptation a reality for a few years now, but he’s already got Blade Runner under his belt, so he’s got an advantage.

If that show’s premise seems a little dark, Amazon has a few comedies lined up to balance things out. Salem Rogers stars Leslie Bibb as a narcissistic model attempting to become relevant again after a stint in rehab. Rachel Dratch and Malcolm in the Middle’s Jane Kaczmarek also star. Down Dog appears to be a comedy about a yoga teacher, which is already a red flag, but Kris Kristofferson, Orange Is the New Black’s Alysia Reiner, and Criminal Minds’ Paget Brewster are attached, so it could be salvaged.

On the reboot front, Mad Dogs, based on the U.K. show of the same name, “follows the twisted reunion of a group of underachieving forty-something friends—a mixture of single, married and recently divorced—who are all at different crossroads in their lives,” according to Amazon. Weeds’ Romany Malco, Steve Zahn, and The Sopranos’ Michael Imperioli are all set to star. Cocked might be trying to lure in fans of Breaking Bad and Sons of Anarchy with its storyline of a man drawn back into his family’s Virginia gun business. True Blood’s Sam Trammell and My Name Is Earl’s Jason Lee play two brothers at odds. In that same vein, Civil War drama Point of Honor follows another True Blood alum (Nathan Parsons) and his Virginia family.

Amazon is also attempting to jump into the documentary side with its The New Yorker Presents series. It’s a variety show for the bookish set, featuring a documentary from Jonathan Demme, an interview between New Yorker writer Ariel Levy and artist Marina Abramovic, and a short film starring Alan Cumming and Brett Gelman.

As with all Amazon pilots, viewers will be able to watch and provide feedback on Amazon Prime Instant. 

Photo via kodomut/Flickr (CC BY 2.0) | Remix by Fernando Alfonso III 

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*First Published: Nov 11, 2014, 5:43 pm CST