Earlier this week, Kayleigh wrote at length about the state of Amazon TV, and I will just say this: it obviously doesn’t have as many great shows as Netflix, but a few of those shows are as good or better than anything Netflix has put out: Transparent, Patriot, Sneaky Pete, Fleabag and Catastrophe are five of my favorite streaming series, and I’d ranked them equal to the five best Netflix series.
That said, they do have a money problem, which is to say: They’re spending way too much on series that have no shot in hell of succeeding. They recently pulled the plug on Z: The Beginning of Everything after investing $7 million in its second season; they put a lot into The Last Tycoon, and I could have told them that show had no chance in hell of capturing much of an audience. Apparently, they are also millions over budget on Goliath, which is on its third showrunner in its second season (the series creator David E. Kelley left the project over creative conflicts with Billy Bob Thornton, and Clyde Phillips has also left the series a few months ago. My guess is that Billy Bob Thornton is not a great guy to work with, because my impression of David Kelley is that he’s otherwise unflappable. Also, he created the show, and he’s exactly why the first season was so good, if you’re into meat-and-potatoes legal thrillers.)
However, nothing can compare to their worst investment: Woody Allen.
Sources say Price and lieutenant Joe Lewis doled out $80 million to lure Woody Allen to TV for Crisis in Six Scenes. One insider describes the six-episode comedy created by and starring Allen as a “$100 million boondoggle.”
That was a six half hour episode series that no one watched, and no one — honestly — was ever going to watch. That’s roughly 3 hours of television for $100 million. Compare that to the $75 million they just paid David O. Russell for two seasons of an hour-long mafia drama. For the price of six half hour episodes, Amazon could have financed six Woody Allen feature films that no one would watch.
What were they thinking? Woody Allen is an 81-year-old, with a decades-long scandal hanging over him, who has only made one movie in the last 20 years that even kinda sorta resonated (Midnight in Paris). Amazon only paid $12 million to acquire The Big Sick — they could have financed the next 8 Kumail Nanjiani films for what they paid Woody Allen for three hours of terrible TV. Crisis in Six Scenes is one of the worst investments in the history of television, and everyone could have predicted it.