Amazon put up ten new pilots yesterday: five kid shows, two dramas, and three comedies. We already tackled the comedies, so let’s take a look at the two dramas up for vote: The After, the long-awaited apocalyptic thriller from The X-Files creator Chris Carter; and Bosch, a noirish cop show starring Deadwood’s Titus Welliver.
The setup: In this new fantasy drama from The X-Files’ creator Chris Carter, a group of Los Angelenos are trapped in a luxury hotel after a mysterious cataclysm, then escape to discover that civilization has apparently collapsed and some uncanny evil is afoot in the land. Plus, they all seem to have lost a whole day and none of them can remember where it went. Coincidences abound, and none of them seem like coincidences. You could say Carter is taking a page from Lost if Lost weren't so heavily indebted to the specific brand of popcorn-exciting mystery-horror that Carter perfected on The X-Files. Carter's got a long track record of holding our interest whether his work is brilliant, okay, or terrible; no reason to think this’ll be a departure.
The cast: Louise Monot, Sharon Lawrence, Andrew Howard, Adrian Pasdar, Jaina Lee Ortiz
How is it? Moderately engaging for the first 20 minutes, as it introduces its disaster-movie-style band of racially, ethnically, and financially diverse characters; increasingly suspenseful for the next 40, as the world devolves into Hobbesian chaos; and for the last 10 minutes, scary as a mofo.
The setup: Titus Welliver (Deadwood) plays Michael Connelly’s Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch, the L.A. homicide cop whose melancholy machismo fueled a popular series of crime novels. The pilot begins with Bosch getting suspended and then brought to trial for killing a probable, yet unarmed, serial killer he’d been tracking; the plot then jumps forward to detail Harry’s trial and his investigation of a possible child murder wherein the victim’s bones were discovered in woodland hills by a dog.
The cast: Welliver, Jamie Hector, Lance Reddick, Amy Aquino, Abraham Benrubi, Amy Price-Francis
How is it? There’s a hint of same-old, same-old at first. Los Angeles is made to look like a film noir wonderland in which it rains constantly and everyone speaks in hardboiled dialogue laced with institutional jargon, and other characters keep saying Harry Bosch’s full name out loud, as if to will him into being iconic. But once the pilot gets to a lovely, long, quiet sequence of Harry smoking on a balcony while staring out at the Los Angeles skyline and listening to jazz, suddenly it develops a seventies movie personality and stays in it. The cast boasts an excess of great TV character actors, including two stars of The Wire (Hector as the hero's partner and Reddick as one of his bosses), and Welliver’s rather muted performance eventually grows on you. There’s potential here.
All ten Amazon pilots can be streamed and voted on here.