Static: Amazon pilots take off with minor turbulance

George Lang: Amazon Prime viewers get to decide which of eight original comedy pilots lives or dies.
BY GEORGE LANG glang@opubco.com Published: May 6, 2013
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Rounding off the top half of Amazon's pilot offerings is The Onion News Empire, which stars Jeffrey Tambor as the horrific lead anchor and Christopher Masterson (“Malcolm in the Middle”) as the young upstart reporter — it's like Aaron Sorkin's “The Newsroom,” but actually written for laughs.

After those bright spots, the pilots encounter turbulence, and one of them crashes into a mountainside. The animated “Supanatural” is executive produced by the hilarious Kristen Schaal (“The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “Bob's Burgers,” “Gravity Falls,” but its premise – hoochie mamas fighting the paranormal — seems like a one-off joke. But the stop-motion space opera “Dark Minions” does not even have the one joke — its best asset is a shifting visual aesthetic reminiscent of multi-artist graphic novels.

Despite original writers Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick returning from the great 2009 big-screen comedy “Zombieland,” the Amazon pilot feels like a pointless remake with a less-accomplished cast. And then there's “Browsers,” a singularly awful musical about interns at a news Web site. The bad music and trite comedy put me off my feed within minutes — a memorably terrible experience.

But the best entries of the Amazon pilot season are absolutely worth going forward — especially the aptly titled “Alpha House” and “Betas.” At this rate, “big green” is advancing on “big red.”