From Amazon's Zombieland: The Series

Amazon’s Crowdsourced Pilot Season is Upon Us

on Tuesday, Apr. 23rd

Amazon, not content with ruling the realm of publishing with an iron fist, has developed a slate of original "TV" pilots and have unleashed these on an unsuspecting populace.

True to the spirit of Amazon's site reviews, the company is crowdsourcing feedback on the shows, which are available via Amazon Instant Video, and will weigh that feedback when choosing which pilots to take to series.

There's some interesting business dynamics at work here, but how are the shows? New York Times' TV and film critic Mike Hale is not so kind:

If there’s an Amazon aesthetic at this point, it’s frugality. With one or two exceptions, these are cheap productions. The cartoon “Dark Minions” consists largely of animatics, the rudimentary precursor to finished animation. In most of the live-action pilots there appears to have been little or no budget for fine-tuning sound and color, and “Onion News Empire” looks like video that’s been fading since the 1980s. This makes sense financially — Amazon doesn’t need to impress any television network executives — and perhaps a generation raised on YouTube won’t notice.

Hale goes on to review the pilots, and the knives really come out.

Also jumping into the review fray is the staff at VideoInk, who are a bit kinder to the programs. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that VideoInk is a site dedicated to online video and Hale is a TV reviewer. A little old media/new media clash? Crunchy, that.

Amazon might now be tossing in production value, but they've lured some star talent: John Goodman, Bill Murray, Jeffery Tambor and Bebe Neuwirth are present in some of these productions. That's enough to get some attention from mainstream audiences.

That is, if the streams work. VideoInk was quick to point out that they experienced "many technical glitches" with the Amazon Instant Video player.

In a week when their arch-rival for online premium video dominance, Netflix, is reporting a tidal wave of new subscribers a shaky technical showing from the kings of online infrastructure is no good at all.

Follow Noah Nelson on Twitter (@noahjnelson)

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