Attempting to determine the quality of a show based on a cast list and short press release blurb is almost impossible. So many variables are out there. Shows with boring descriptions and a mostly unknown cast can end up being great, and it’s not super fair to leap to judgment and damn them before you see a single frame. The whole thing is a pointless endeavor that does nothing but provide wild speculation and reveal the biases of the person who is trying to make the determination.
Buuuut it’s also fun. And so, here’s an extremely preliminary ranking of the five shows that Amazon just announced for its Spring 2017 pilot season, all of which will be available for Prime subscribers on March 17. We’ve got a weed comedy, a new drama from Amy Sherman-Palladino, and a sci-fi show starring Richard Madden from Game of Thrones, among others. Let’s dive in.
The Legend of Master Legend
The Legend of Master Legend is a dark comedy about the life of Frank Lafount, aka Master Legend — a homemade superhero whose mission is to protect the people of Las Vegas from evil doers. Master Legend juggles the demands of justice with the even more complicated demands of his real family, who don’t see him as a hero at all. The Legend of Master Legend is executive produced by Youree Henley (20th Century Women), Joshuah Bearman (Argo) and David Klawans (Argo), along with executive producers and writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue (Transparent) and Noah Harpster (Transparent). The pilot is directed by James Ponsoldt (The Spectacular Now) and stars John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone), Dawnn Lewis (Major Crimes), Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire) and newcomer Anjelika Washington.
Apologies to everyone involved in this show for ranking it fifth out of five. I will definitely watch it. They had me at “homemade Las Vegas superhero named Master Legend.” My only issue is that dark comedies are a tricky balance and Amazon has not always had the best track record with tricky balances. Again, we’re not doing science here.
The New V.I.P.’s
Amazon’s first adult animated comedy show, The New V.I.P.’s follows a group of low level employees who seize control of a major corporation after accidently murdering their boss. The show was created by Steve Dildarian (The Life & Times of Tim), Titmouse served as the production company (Ben Kalina and Dave Newberg), along with producer Peter Principato (Central Intelligence) from Principato Young. The pilot stars Matt Braunger (Agent Carter), Ben Schwartz (Parks and Recreation), Missi Pyle (Gone Girl) and Jonathan Adams (Last Man Standing).
The Life & Times of Tim was a cool show and I generally support office shenanigans that involve employees using acts of violence to take control of their company (by which I mean “9 to 5 is a good movie”), so let’s file this one under “reasonably optimistic.”