Amazon's Pilot Season: 'Zombieland' Wants You … to Vote for Its Survival

Amazon's Pilot Season: 'Zombieland' Wants You … to Vote for Its Survival

Netflix revolutionized the way TV-based content is shown by letting users watch an entire season’s worth of episodes at one time.

Amazon is going one step further with its first wave of original streaming content. The Internet giant is giving users the chance to rate and rank its pilot offerings. The online shopping destination released 14 pilots today, hoping viewers will sample the shows and let it know (via page views and comments) which ones deserve a full-season pickup.

The company’s efforts deserve attention. Not only did Amazon lure some respectable names to their initial show lineup, including John Goodman, Clancy Brown and Bebe Neuwirth, its Amazon Prime service combines solid pre-existing content with shipping perks its streaming competition can’t match.

Amazon’s highest profile pilot is Zombieland, based on the hit horror comedy and written by the film’s screenwriters (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick). The show’s pilot, however, isn’t a good omen for Amazon’s streaming future. 

The pilot recycles the “rules” of Zombieland, like embracing cardio to keep one step ahead of the undead, but the punch lines rely on stale R-rated gags.

More curious is its copious product placement, including shout outs to Ensure, IKEA and On-Star.

It’s hard to replace Woody Harrelson, so memorable as the film’s zombie slayer, but actor Kirk Ward (Forrest Gump, The Island) needs better material to even try. The pilot’s emphasis is how the quartet of characters wants to expand its numbers but the new recruits keep dying before so much as an introductory handshake.

The show’s opening sight gag is a winner, with a pair of co-workers discussing mundane problems while the zombie apocalypse brews just outside the office windows. It’s mostly downhill from there.

Amazon deserves credit for bringing transparency to the pilot process, but content is still king no matter how new fare is brought to the public.