Review: New Amazon Comedies

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Amazon has three new comedy pilots up right now that are up for user voting and reviewing and we’ve seen all three, with a clear choice of which one to support for a full season.

Jean Claude Van Johnson: We may be biased here at Everything Action but Jean Claude Van Johnson is clearly the best of the three new Amazon pilots and it’s carried by an absolutely hilarious, self-deprecating performance by JCVD.  In the world of the show, Van Damme is retired from both movies and his secret career as a black ops agent code named Johnson but he runs into his old flame, Vanessa (Kat Foster), he goes to his old agent Jane (Phylicia Rashad) and comes out of retirement on the same job Vanessa is heading to in Bulgaria.  On top of starring in a ridiculous action remake of Huck Finn, JCVD has to infiltrate a nearby factory suspected of producing and smuggling out a powerful new form of heroin.  There’s so many great in jokes to JCVD’s career, like a recurring bit about Looper vs Timecop or the ubiquity of Bloodsport but also just great jokes about the movie industry as well.  The potential is so great for this show, like just seeing Van Damme in different, ridiculous movies every week and could you imagine if it was revealed that people like Dolph Lundgren or Stallone were also agents in this secret black ops operation?  This is the one you have to watch and then rate and vote on to become a series.

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The Tick: The Tick is back with original creator Ben Edlund at the helm and this first episode does a good job setting up the universe but doesn’t feel as complete an episode as Jean Claude Van Johnson.  What I really liked about this first episode though is that it looks and feels like a Netflix Marvel show but then The Tick shows up and is just ridiculous with his nigh invulnerablity and never ending stream of metaphors and bizarre phrases.  Most of the episode follows The Tick’s faithful sidekick Arthur, who in this new show is obsessed with proving that supervillain The Terror, who set events into motion that killed Arthur’s father, is still alive despite everyone believing he was killed by Supermanesque hero Superian.  Arthur runs into The Tick while casing out some sort of weapon smuggling operation operated by former Terror henchmen but is reluctant to join this overly eager, possibly insane superhero on a quest for justice. Peter Serafinowicz does a great job of channeling The Tick’s energy and positivity (and also does and almost disturbingly good American accent).  It’s not clear if things would eventually get as nuts as the previous animated and live action series, with characters like Chairface Chippendale or The Deadly Bulb showing up but I would definitely be interested to see more, although if only one show gets to go through, I gotta go with JCVD.

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I Love Dick: Jean Claude Van Johnson and The Tick were both fun, hilarious pilots and either one would make great new series for Amazon.  I Love Dick is one of the worst pilots and just things in general I have ever seen.  Based on a novel, it’s so up it’s own ass and pretentious and it does the thing I despise and just forces it’s messaging down your throat in obvious and heavy handed ways.  Kathryn Hahn and Griffin Dunne are an unhappily married couple who travel to Marfa, TX as Dunne’s Sylvere has gotten the chance to fellow at a prestigious institute run by Dick (Kevin Bacon) while Chris (Hahn) plans to travel to Venice to show a film she has made but gets news that the musicians of a piece of music she didn’t get the rights for are preventing her from showing it, so she has nowhere to go and stays in Marfa for a while, especially after meeting Dick.  There is incredibly annoying typography transitions that represent letters Chris is writing to Dick and I hated every minute spent with the characters and didn’t laugh once for the entire show.  It just is completely not my thing and feels like a hipster Sundance movie that a small contingent are going to be championing as the funniest and greatest thing ever.

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