Amazon launched its online video service in more than 200 countries worldwide yesterday
With the news that Amazon has, at long last, launched its streaming video service in more than 200 countries around the world, the home-media consumer must now ask him or herself whether or not to buy into the Netflix-rivalling service. Admittedly, Amazon is sweetening the deal by offering a free seven-day trial and a relatively manageable fee of €2.99 for the first six months, before rising to €5.99 a month thereafter. But having launched with only 16 mainstream TV shows in the Republic of Ireland, compared to considerably more north of the border, the bookseller-turned-retail-giant is hoping its handful of original shows will tip audiences its way.
It’s a calculated risk and follows Netflix’s lead, with the latter having established itself as the world’s channel when it débuted House of Cards on February 1st, 2013, a royal flush that brought it millions of new subscribers and paved the way for its domination today. Netflix proved that not only could streaming services compete with cable TV, they could even go head to head with the film industry, with the lure of the multiplex losing ground every day to the comfort of the binge at home.
So Amazon wants in on this new media platform, and has had a run of critical successes so far, with its original material claiming accolades and awards, often leaving Netflix as a runner up, and freezing out network television altogether. Here’s our pick of the eight more intriguing original shows streaming on Amazon Video now...
This police drama, based on a series of books by the bestselling author Michael Connelly, is one of the most popular and highly-rated shows on Amazon’s service. The taut thriller sees Titus Welliver star as Harry Bosch, an LAPD detective on trial for the shooting of a murder suspect, but whose life is now threatened by another dangerous suspect.
The Man in High Castle
This adaptation of Philip K Dick’s alternative history science-fiction novel imagining a world where the Axis Powers won WWII, and where the US has been partitioned into three parts: the Japanese Pacific States, the Greater Nazi Reich, east of the Rocky Mountains, and the Neutral Zone that buffers them both. The series is set in 1962, where a young woman in San Francisco becomes entangled with the resistance when her half-sister is killed just after giving her a mysterious film reel.
Mozart in the Jungle
The winner of two Golden Globes earlier this year, with star Gael Garcia Bernal taking home ‘Best Actor’ and the show named ‘Best TV Series – Comedy’, the show follows the shockwaves felt in the New York Philharmonic when an eccentric new conductor takes over the symphony and a daring new oboist auditions for a chair.
Arguably the most critically-acclaimed comedy-drama currently on American TV, Transparent tells the story of the patriarch of a dysfunctional family who reveals that she now identifies as a woman. The brutally funny show follows how this personal odyssey affects all of the members of the family, each of which is trying to deal with the confusion and turmoil in their own lives. Jeffrey Tambor, best known for his work on Arrested Development, plays Maura Pfefferman, with his nuanced performance having bagged him two Emmys, a SAG Award, a Golden Globe, and a Critics’ Choice Award.
If Transparent is Amazon’s critical darling, this is the streamer’s cult favourite. Red Oaks stars British actor Craig Roberts as David, a student who takes a job as a tennis pro at the prestigious and exclusive Red Oaks Country Club during his summer off from studying at NYU in the 1980s. The series co-stars Paul Reiser, Jennifer Grey, and Ennis Esmer, who steals the show as David’s supervisor Nash.
Hand of God
Veteran character actor Ron Perlman stars as Judge Pernell Harris, a respected legal professional who is also undergoing intense hallucinations. When son and daughter-in-law become mixed up in a crime, the judge must try to solve the mystery while plagued by disturbing visions that may turn out to the prophecy.
The Grand Tour
After the BBC fired Jeremy Clarkson for assaulting a producer of Top Gear, the show’s two other hosts defected to Amazon to join him in another motoring extravaganza, which is rumoured to have a budget as high as $4m per episode. Whether or not viewers warm to it to the same extent as they did the trio’s tenure on Top Gear remains to be seen, but seeing as this is the vehicle that has rolled out Amazon’s great expansion worldwide, they clearly have confidence in The Grand Tour.
This historical period drama marks the first time a continental-European public national broadcaster collaborated with an on-demand platform, with the BBC and France Télévisions joining forces with Amazon to produce this. The lavishly costumed drama is set around a Paris fashion house emerging from the Occupation of World War II.