Amazon Video's line-up of original content might finally be a Netflix beater
The time has come to consider your options.
There is no denying that Netflix have done a tremendous job when it comes to their original content.
House Of Cards, Daredevil, Orange Is The New Black, Bojack Horseman, Making A Murderer, Big Mouth, Mindhunter, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Glow, and loads more besides have all become pretty much unmissable since the streaming platform took off in a big way.
Outside of Netflix though, European audiences haven't always had a great amount of variety, and what variety there was didn't provide enough of an incentive to start up a direct debit.
Viewers in the States have had Hulu and HBO Now, which aren't options over here, and while both Disney and DC are planning on kicking off their own streaming platforms in the not-too-distant future, for the time being, Netflix's biggest competitor here is Amazon Video. And with their latest upcoming slate, they may have finally delivered us a viable alternative.
In early October, Amazon Video invited JOE to London to check out what they've got coming out in the next few weeks, months and years, and to say that they are putting everything they've got behind it is an understatement.
This was a warning shot, a display of strength and ability, and one that Netflix should probably take quite seriously.
John Krasinski was on hand to talk about the second season of Jack Ryan, currently filming in London with new cast addition Noomi Rapace (AKA the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo). We were big fans of the first season when it was released earlier in 2018, and considering they got a lot of introductory leg-work done already, they can now kick back and blow some more stuff up and have more fun with the series.
Guillermo Del Toro lends his writing talents to Carnival Row, which tells the story of a serial killer that preys on mystical creatures in a dark futuristic city. A detective on the case (Orlando Bloom) becomes the prime suspect in the murders and he must team up with a fairy (Cara Delevingne) in order to prove his innocence. Overflowing with gothic horror vibes, fans of Del Toro's unique stories will flock to this one, and Bloom and Delevingne look like they've got some genuinely fantastic chemistry together.
It was all eyes on what Matthew Weiner - the creator of Mad Men - would do next, and where he would do it. He is one of those names, like J.J. Abrams or Michael Schur or Vince Gilligan, that when they announce what they're doing next, you should sit up and take notice. That is exactly the case with The Romanoffs, a new epic-in-scope drama, featuring what feels like half the world's actors, and taking on the kind of scale that most TV shows would never dream of.
Bear Grylls rocked out on stage next to discuss his new show Eco-Challenge, which legitimately looks like it will be exhausting just to watch. Described as the "ultimate team survival competition" which "pits contestants in a series of grueling activities in a race around the globe", the footage showed people taking part in what looks like the most punishing TV competition ever. The hook is that if one person from the team quits, the entire team is disqualified. So while that will spur on some "You can do it!" camaraderie, we also imagine there will be a lot of drama for those who simply can't keep up.
The Grand Tour is back, looking Grand-er and Tour-ier than ever, and while the three lads weren't there to show off the new show, one of the producers did come out and give a teaser of what to expect. As per usual, the production values were absolutely through the roof and the challenges that have been presented to Jeremy, Richard, and James look to be as entertainingly difficult as ever.
Neil Gaiman arrived to talk about the long-awaited adaptation of Good Omens, the book he co-wrote with the late, great Terry Pratchett.
Essentially, after years of failed attempts to get the story to the big and small screen, Pratchett told Gaiman that he was the only one who could get it across the finish line. He died soon after, and Gaiman refers to the adaptation of the "unfilmable book" as a dying man's wish. However, since the book is so hugely loved by readers, it was no problem getting the cast together for it. Michael Sheen, David Tennant, Jon Hamm, Miranda Richardson and (voicing God, no less!) Frances McDormand fill out a hugely impressive line-up, and the early footage shown to us was both visually astounding, and very, very funny.
The cast of the next show said they ran into Spielberg at an awards ceremony, who described The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel as "the best Jewish musical since West Side Story". And if that isn't the greatest compliment ever, then we're not sure what is. Fresh from winning SEVEN Emmys for its first season, the early footage shown for Season 2 shows the gang heading off in fresh new directions - Paris is mentioned a lot during the chats - and the show continues to be the best thing on TV that not enough people are watching.
We had the rare opportunity to sit down with Julia Roberts to talk about her new show Homecoming, which also marks the Oscar-winning actress' first ever TV show. Teaming up with Sam Esmail (creator of Mr. Robot) for the psychological thriller based on the hit podcast, the fact that they've got one of the world's most famous people involved is obviously a huge get for them, and it helps that the show looks like it will be absolutely fantastic.
Not wanting to focus solely on the US and UK markets, there is a lot of strong foreign language content as part of the line-up, including Beat, which is a spy thriller set against the backdrop of the underground Berlin party scene. There was also some early footage from Deutschland 86, another fun spy thriller set in Germany, with another unique music backdrop, but taking place over 30 years ago, with the Berlin wall still looming large over everything, as was the case with the hit series Deutschland 83, which this follows up on... you guessed it, three years later.
And, last but not least, Amazon Video dropped a billion dollars to buy up the rights to The Lord Of The Rings, and if there was ever a show that could potentially fill the void soon to be left behind by Game Of Thrones, then this is it. Very little else in known about the show at the moment, but all things considered, it will undoubtedly become the biggest TV series ever made.
Combined, the line-up was nothing short of astoundingly impressive, and even what they showed us in London was far from comprehensive, with even more on the horizon. The Wheel Of Time adaptation has begun development, based on the book series by Robert Jordan. The Boys will be a MUCH darker take on the superhero genre, fronted by Karl Urban and developed by Seth Rogen. Stephen King's The Dark Tower series is still in the works there.
Some of these shows are already available to start watching on Amazon Video right now, some in the next few weeks, and some maybe won't be appearing this side of 2020. But it is clear that while it has felt that Netflix have cornered this market for so long here, that time may soon be coming to an end.
All clips via Amazon Studios