The winners are in. After collecting viewer feedback on 10 new pilot shows, Amazon has picked four that will go on to a first season: the dramas "Bosch" and "The After" and the comedies/dramedies "Transparent" and "Mozart in the Jungle."
None of the shows are groundbreaking — though some of the people behind them, like "The X-files" creator Chris Carter are. But they have subtle quirks and charms that help define the new genre of online TV.
The pilots aren't so much shocking as unusual — featuring, for example, an entire scene smeared in BBQ sauce and a French actress who leads an End-Times apocalyptic survival journey. Sure there are bits of HBO-style salaciousness: teases of exposed breasts (though not all of them pretty), implied manual stimulation in the back of a limousine, and enough of the F-word to rival "Deadwood." But it's effort to be offbeat and weird that marks most of these shows.
Here's the lineup that you can look forward to.
Created by father of " The X-Files," Chris Carter, this drama appears to be literally about the end of the world. A random collection of eight strangers — from wealthy old woman to a wanted murderer — wind up trapped in an underground parking garage after the power suddenly goes out. Once they escape, they find that the entire world has gone out, with no electricity anywhere, no cellphone reception and helicopters falling from the sky. Is this the end of the world? Maybe, as one of them, a sexy kept woman, insists. And a freakish encounter with an otherworldly demon seems to point in that direction.
Equally ground shaking is that the band of survivors is lead by a slender French actress, Gigi (played by Louise Monot). She keeps order not with the muscular bravado of Linda Hamilton in "Terminator 2," but by a motherly scolding of people to get themselves together the many times they are about to go crazy. Sci-fi fans will recognize among the survivors Adrian Pasdar, who played the flying Senator Nathan Petrelli in "Heroes."
Amazon describes Jill Soloway's comedy as about a family with "serious boundary issues," which could describe the show as well. It features a grown-up family headed by divorced patriarch Mort, played by Jeffrey Tambor of "Arrested Development" with his trademark madness-meets-deadpan style. Around him are his three maladapted grown children, played by Gaby Hoffmann of "Girls," Amy Landecker and Jay Duplass.
One standout scene is a takeout meal at the family homestead with BBQ sauce smeared all over the fingers faces and clothes of the main characters for a stomach-turning long time. That an aspiring show would dedicate so much of its pilot to a nauseating slice of real life shows something about its lack of concern with boundaries. Another scene features one of the daughters surveying her naked body in a mirror as she decides to finally get in shape.
But the father's shocking secret revealed near the end of the pilot hints at what a bizarre trip this series will be. It's best to not reveal a surprise ending, but think about the spelling of the show's title for a hint.
"Mozart in the Jungle"
The secret, tawdry lives of New York symphony musicians could be the sendup for a reality TV show or vapid drama — and may still be. But "Mozart in the Jungle" mixes a little bit of dirtiness (like the aforementioned limousine scene) with an informed affection for music. "Emily Wu, the first violin — she played sharp 17 times in the first movement alone. And the horns came up late, which completely threw off the clarinet " says the new symphony conductor Gustavo, played by Gael Garcia Bernal in dissing the outgoing conductor, played by Malcolm McDowell in his characteristic cranky arrogance.
"This is a piano arrangement. It doesn't matter," says a flutist surveying his challenge in a drunken musical showdown with an oboe player. "Mozart in the Jungle" creators, including Roman Coppola of "The Darjeeling Limited" and Jason Schwartzman of "Moonrise Kingdom" weave the nuances of music into its plot without alienating people unfamiliar with the arts. Even a tone-deaf viewer can pick up the melody.
Based on Michael Connelly's book series, this cop drama is the most traditional of the four. Its main quirk is the name of the dark hero, homicide detective Hieronymus Bosh, played confidently by Titus Welliver. Harry, as he's known, plays the well-worn role of the renegade cop who breaks the rules in trying to crack a case. The pilot alternates between Harry investigating the cold-case murder of a young boy and attending his own trial for murder. Is he an unorthodox, brash but well-meaning crusader, a racist vigilante, or both? You'll have to wait to (maybe) find out. Or pick up the books, which, of course, you can buy from Amazon.