Lovefilm has launched pilots of 14 brand new TV shows which are free for anyone to watch online – all competing to become full-length series.
It’s part of a worldwide experiment with Lovefilm’s owner, Amazon, which has created some of the eight comedies and six kids’ shows at its own studios.
Amazon Originals has lined up stars including John Goodman and Jeffrey Tambor, producers including The Jim Henson Company and The Onion News Network, and a spin-off from movie hit Zombieland.
Read Recombu Digital’s guide to LovefilmJeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO said: “For the past year, the Amazon Studios team has collaborated with some of the best actors and writers in Hollywood to produce top-quality shows.
“We can’t wait to hear which shows customers will want to see in full series production later this year.”
The winners will be decided from viewers’ reviews and ratings, Facebook and Twitter reactions, and will be free to watch on Lovefilm Instant.
The move into original productions puts Amazon head-to-head with Netflix, which this year released a US version of political drama House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, horror drama Hemlock Grove, and has new episodes of Arrested Development on the slate.
It’s also a shot across the bows of pay-TV channels such as HBO in the US and Sky over here, which face the prospect of viewers cutting their subscriptions for cheaper online services.
Amazon Originals: Comedy
Alpha House: Four US senators share a house in Washington DC – the Alpha House. Starring John Goodman, it’s written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury).
Betas: Four friends attempt to strike it rich in Silicon Valley with a new mobile social networking app. The geek-friendly pilot stars relative unknowns but producers include Alan Cohen (King of the Hill, Due Date, American Dad) and Michael London (Sideways, The Informant).
Browsers: A musical comedy set in Manhattan, which follows four young people in their first jobs at a news website. It’s written by David Javerbaum, a 12-time Emmy-winner for The Daily Show.
Dark Minions: Big Bang Theory supporting actors Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie wrote this cartoon about two slackers just trying to get through their day and earn their salary. Regular guys, except that they work on an intergalactic warship.
Onion News Empire: Drawing on the success of spoof news site The Onion News Network, this show demonstrates just how far journalists will go to stay on top and stars Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development) and Chris Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle).
Supanatural: Kristen Schaal of The Daily Show and Flight of the Conchords co-wrote this animated series about two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defence against all things supernatural – when they’re not working at the mall (shopping centre).
Those Who Can’t: Nothing like Channel 4’s Teachers – we’re sure – this is about three misfit teachers who are just as immature, if not more so, than the students they teach. The writers were discovered through Amazon Studios’ online open door process.
Zombieland: Based on the hit movie of the same name, Zombieland follows four survivors searching for a place to call home and trying to stay one lurching step ahead of the undead, with relative unknowns replacing Woody Harrelson and Emma Stone in the double-tapping leads.
Amazon Originals: Kids’
Annebots: Young scientist Anne creates three robots to help with her scientific experiments in her dad’s junkyard, with the goal of making science and technology fun and interesting for kids.
Creative Galaxy: Another animation with noble goals, this interactive art adventure series is designed to inspire creative thinking through crafts, story, music and dance. It’s made by Angela Santomero, creator of Emmy-nominated literacy series Super Why!
Positively Ozitively: The copyright-infringement-avoiding adventures of Dorothy’s daughter, Dot, who heads to Oz every day for adventures with the children of the beloved characters from L. Frank Baum’s classic, The Wizard of Oz.
Sara Solves It: Emmy Award winner Carol Greenwald (Curious George) and Angela Santomero (Super Why!) bring tales of siblings Sara and Sam, who solve mysteries that spring from the questions young children encounter in their daily lives.
Teeny Tiny Dogs: Dinky, Butterfly, Butch and Polly are Teeny Tiny Dogs, navigating the big wide world in a puppet show from Howard Baker (Rugrats) and Lisa Henson, daughter of Muppet creator Jim Henson and CEO of The Jim Henson Company.
Tumbleaf: A small blue fox called Fig discovers adventure, friendship and love around every bend in the path in a whimsical land of pre-school-aged children’s tales.