When Amazon’s Zombieland made it’s debut last week, it didn’t jump into the murky waters of the internet alone. Seven other comedy pilots also made the plunge and now they’re all fighting to remain afloat. Only the pilot that receives the best reception from Amazon’s audience will be put forward as a new TV series. So just how buoyant is the Zombieland pilot? And do I have any more water analogies to make? Keep reading to find out. Spoilers: I don’t have any more water analogies.
First of all, let’s make a list of the competition that Zombieland is facing:
- Alpha House– Alpha House was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau (Doonesbury, Tanner ’88) and features John Goodman (Roseanne, Argo, Treme), Clark Johnson (The Wire), Matt Malloy (Six Feet Under, Law & Order), and Mark Consuelos (American Horror Story: Asylum, Guys with Kids). Alpha House follows four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC.
- Betas– Set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups, Betas, written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. Michael Lehmann (True Blood, Dexter) directed and produced the pilot along with Emmy Award winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen (King of the Hill), and Academy Award nominee Michael London (Sideways).
- Supanatural– Supanatural is an animated comedy series about two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall. The series was written by Lily Sparks, Price Peterson and Ryan Sandoval and, the pilot was produced by Jason Micallef (Butter) and Kristen Schaal (The Daily Show).
- Those Who Can’t– Written by Andrew Orvedahl, Adam Cayton-Holland and Benjamin Roy (Grawlix), who were discovered through Amazon Studios’ online open door process, Those Who Can’t is a comedy about three juvenile, misfit teachers who are just as immature, if not more so, than the students they teach.
- Onion News Empire– Onion News Empire is a smart, fast-paced scripted comedy set behind the scenes of The Onion News Network that shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game. Jeffrey Tambor (Arrested Development), Chris Masterson (Malcolm in the Middle), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), Cheyenne Jackson (30 Rock) and Aja Naomi King (Damsels in Distress) star in the pilot.
- Dark Minions– Written by Big Bang Theory co-stars Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, Dark Minions is an animated workplace series about two slackers just trying to make a paycheck, working on an intergalactic warship.
- Browsers– Written by 12-time Emmy-winning comedy writer David Javerbaum (The Daily Show) and directed by Don Scardino (30 Rock), Browsers is a musical comedy set in contemporary Manhattan that follows four young people as they start their first jobs at a news website and features actress Bebe Neuwirth.
I’m sure, for some people, this might be the first time you’re even hearing about these other projects. Zombieland was arguably the most talked about pilot, despite some of the excellent pedigree involved in the other projects.
The fact that Zombieland seemed to hog all the news coverage is most evident in the fact that it received the greatest amount of reviews on Amazon. As of this writing it’s sitting at 2,958 written reviews. The pilot with the second highest amount of reviews is Alpha House with just 952. That’s right, Zombieland has over 2,000 more reviews than any other pilot. It’s really no surprise though. Despite the quality of the other pilots, Zombieland was obviously going to garner the most attention due to it being an established property.
However, even though it’s the most talked about pilot on Amazon, it’s struggling to keep up in actual ratings. Zombieland is currently pulling in a 3.7 out of 5 stars on the Amazon rating system and while that’s respectable, it’s still low compared to the other pilots. Of the seven comedy pilots, five of them have a higher rating than Zombieland and only one is rated lower.
So here’s the problem Amazon faces: Though the Zombieland pilot has proven to be a huge draw, it isn’t the best critically received pilot. So do they move forward with a pilot that has a broader reach or do they put their money in a show that’ll win them critical praise and then hope the audience follows?
Obviously horror fans are going to be the primary audience for a series like this and with the community being so divided over the pilot, it’s hard to say whether or not fans will actually be willing to pay for the series if it goes into production. People were barely willing to give the free pilot a chance. Ask them to pay for the series, even if it’s 99 cents an episode, and you might find even greater resistance.
At one point, I would’ve said that a Zombieland series on Amazon was a sure bet. However, now that they’re looking for the best of the best, I don’t think the future looks very promising for the series. As someone who enjoyed the pilot, I wouldn’t be shocked if a pilot is all we get.
What do you think? Does Zombieland still stand a chance? Let us know in the comments!