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Originally published December 20, 2012 at 10:02 PM | Page modified December 21, 2012 at 1:27 PM

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Coming soon from Amazon. com: original sitcoms

Amazon announced that it is producing six comedy series pilots that could potentially become full-season productions.


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SAN FRANCISCO — Two slackers on an intergalactic warship, divas defending humanity, and four senators in a rented house in Washington, D.C. is taking the showbiz route in its push for more content, and these are three of the six sitcom ideas the Internet giant is planning to test-drive on online audiences.

Amazon announced Thursday that it is producing six comedy-series pilots that could potentially become full-season productions. The company said its film-production arm, Amazon Studios, will post the pilots on its instant video service as a way of figuring out which shows click with audiences.

There was no shortage of ideas, Amazon Studios director Roy Price said in a statement. The company got more than 2,000 proposals and settled on six ideas.

One pilot is for a show called “Dark Minions,” an animated series about two slackers struggling to make ends meet on an intergalactic warship.

Another called “Supanatural” is also an animated series about “two outspoken divas who are humanity’s last line of defense against the supernatural, when they’re not working at the mall,” the company said.

“Alpha House” follows the adventures of four senators who live in a rented house in Washington, D.C. The pilot was written by “Doonesbury” creator Garry Trudeau, who said he’s excited about the project.

“It’s impossible not to get excited about (Amazon’s) new venture into online programming,” he said in a statement. “We look forward to partnering with Amazon’s creative team, making a great show, and as the holidays approach, receiving free two-day shipping for the entire cast and crew.”

The Amazon comedy offensive makes sense, analysts said.

“Content is king, and comedy works,” Roger Kay, of Endpoint Technologies Associates, told MarketWatch. “It’s not enough to be a website to derive value from elsewhere. You have to make some yourself.”

Topeka Capital’s Victor Anthony said the shows are “an opportunity to drive customers toward the Prime Instant Video service rather than as a separate revenue and profit unit.”

He cited the success of cable channels such as HBO, Showtime and Starz in attracting audiences with original shows.

“Two or three hits from Amazon Studios could be a game changer for the service, that could allow Amazon to at some point in the future, offer Instant Video as a stand-alone service to compete directly with Netflix and the premium pay-TV operators,” Anthony told MarketWatch.

But Amazon’s lineup drew mixed initial reviews from Kay, of Endpoint.

The show on the senators seems to be about “old guys,” though it has “a nice premise.” The one on the slackers on a spaceship “seems narrow unless it’s really well done” and could attract mainly the “ ‘Star Trek’ freaks, not so much a general audience.”

“ ‘Supanatural’ bores me,” he continued. “But there are those vampire people. They watch video.”

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