After thought: questions over Amazon’s pilot process

When it comes to cancelling a television series, in most cases the decision is based on the number of viewers – or lack of them.

For Amazon Studios drama The After, from The X-Files creator Chris Carter, viewing figures were never part of the problem as beyond the pilot, the show never made it to air on Amazon Prime Instant Video.

The After

The After

The pilot was picked up to series last year after receiving positive feedback from viewers on the site. But this week it emerged that the show will not now be moving forward.

A statement from Amazon Studios said:

We have decided to not move forward with The After. We would like to thank Chris Carter, the phenomenal cast, crew and producers for all their efforts.

The lack of detail over why The After has been cancelled now raises questions over Amazon’s pilot process, seen as ground-breaking when it was first launched. If viewers have the power to choose (en masse) which shows get series orders, how can it then be cancelled without their input? If nobody had watched it, Amazon would have had the evidence to take that decision, but beforehand?

Of course, shows are cancelled before they reach the air all the time so there could be any number of reasons why The After will not now take off online. Creative differences, casting, production costs – the possibilities are endless. And yet, if this is a show that clearly had an audience keen to see more after the pilot, couldn’t there have been a deal to bring the show to air?

While The After is now just an after-thought for Amazon, viewers will wonder how much weight their opinions on the VoD platform’s future pilots will hold.