In August of this year, Amazon held its most successful “Comedy Pilot Season” ever, offering three pilots on its Amazon Prime service for the public’s democratic assessment. All of these seem to be throwbacks to late-80’s or early-90’s popular culture. The Tick is an 80’s comic strip about a powerful but rigidly immature superhero; I Love Dick stars fringe Brat Pack member Kevin Bacon, who arguably had his greatest film successes in the 80’s; and Jean-Claude Van Johnson stars has-been action star Jean-Claude Van Damme, whose tearful challenges with mounting irrelevancy as an actor with the decline in popularity of martial arts was famously considered in the critically tolerated JCVD.
JCVD suggested a new era of humility for the once respected movie prima donna after various legal battles and a long period of cocaine addiction. Yet the fact that he keeps starring in productions that partially bear his name betrays the state of his personality. It seems the infamous arrogance of the Belgian action star is still as alive and well in him as it ever was. In this role, Jean-Claude is called upon to play something similar to himself – a rich, famous, and nonchalant aging actor who gets bored with his life of partial retirement. He becomes so bored, in fact, that he decides to embark on clandestine operations for the government.
In other words, we have a story that has become fairly typical for many of the big 80’s action heroes who have become pop culture fossils in recent years. A once proud warrior wants to get back into the fray and prove that he’s still got it. Sylvester Stallone has arguably spearheaded the movement with Rocky VI (AKA Rocky Balboa, a title I refuse to recognize) and The Expendables (which some critics lampooned by re-christening The Expirables).
As for the pilot itself, it’s something of a fan service that has just enough of the critically acclaimed parts of JCVD to save itself from a roasting by the media. The old guard will find plenty to love about the 80’s songs playing in the trailer and the various references to Jean-Claude’s old works. Critics will be happy because their praise of JCVD has been taken into account to the point of becoming a standard for the actor’s work. There is some self-deprecating humor poking fun not only at the ex-star’s lazy and meaningless lifestyle, but at the inherently ridiculous notion of a geriatric actor doing undercover missions for governments. There are also some bizarre scenes, such as the one where Van Damme opens a cupboard in his kitchen to reveal boxes upon boxes of strawberry “Pop Tarts.” These days, such inexplicable scenes are often taken to be artistic.
Van Damme’s old fans have come out of the woodwork with all the fervor of religious zealots, going so far as to threaten violence if the show isn’t made into a full-on Amazon Prime series. It enjoys by far the strongest response out of the three comedy pilots offered by prime. Well over 3,000 people have rated the pilot episode, pegging it at an 8.2 out of 10 between them. This is almost 1,000 viewers more and 1 point higher than The Tick, which is the second most popular of this triumvirate. Oddly, the situation is reversed on Amazon itself, where 10,000 fans give it an overwhelmingly positive star rating to The Tick’s 16,000.In the end, both of these shows finished with 4.5 stars out of 5, which means massive demand.
While Amazon initially suggested that only one of these shows would win their “contest” and go through to production, the case was that all three of them, even little I Love Dick with its 6,000 ratings to the order of 3.5 stars out of 5, have been approved for existence in the form of a first season. We should be seeing #JCVJ in our Amazon Prime lists sometime next year for season 1.
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Did you watch the pilot episode to this show? Do you think it will continue to be humorous or will it go into more action scenes? Do you think other 80’s actors will make cameo appearances? Give us your comments and opinions down below.