Amazon Picks Six Original Series, Dumps Two

(From left) Jonathan Daly, Charlie Saxton, Joe Dinicol and Karan Soni in Betas Photograph by Amazon Studios via Everett Collection

Chris Carter fans, rejoice: Amazon has ordered a full season of The X-Files creator’s new series, The After, for its original programming lineup, one of six pilots the company is funding in its on-demand battle for viewers. The After tells the story of eight strangers who must cooperate to survive “in a violent world that defies explanation.”

Amazon also picked up the crime drama Bosch, about a Los Angeles homicide detective named Hieronymous “Harry” Bosch. The one-hour series is based on the crime novels by Michael Connelly, a former Los Angeles Times reporter. Amazon also chose two half-hour comedies: Mozart in the Jungle, about the hijinks of professionally trained classical musicians, starring Gael Garcia Bernal; and Transparent, about a group of affluent Southern California siblings and their relationship with their father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, all of whom are dealing with gender and sexuality issues.

Two children’s series are included in the mix. Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street and Wishenpoof! Separately, Amazon said it would renew the John Goodman-led comedy Alpha House for a second season. The show is written and produced by Garry Trudeau, best known for the comic strip Doonesbury.

Amazon is following the lead of HBO and Netflix, which demonstrated the power of original programming to lure new subscribers. While Netflix relies on a mountain of data gleaned from its customers’ preferences and viewing habits, Amazon went a step further and asked viewers to vote online for the shows they wanted. The company released its latest pilots on Amazon Instant Video in early February; the chosen shows were announced today. Amazon didn’t return a call seeking comment on how many votes each show received or how much weight it gave viewer ballots in picking its winners.

Four series were not picked up. Betas was a comedy about a Silicon Valley startup, while The Rebels portrayed the various comedic aspects of a woman forced to manage a struggling pro football franchise in Los Angeles after her husband’s sudden death.

For now, Amazon plans to release episodes of its shows weekly, like a traditional network, although it’s clear the company is pondering a Netflix-style full-season dump, based on comments Amazon Studios’ director, Roy Price, made to New York magazine this month.

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