The trio, after all, were television’s hottest free agents at the time, having left the BBC abruptly following a widely reported punch-up in a hotel, and commentators were confidently predicting the team would be signed up by ITV, Sky or another of the BBC’s traditional rivals.
Amazon invites pitches from anyone at all, whether they be scripts, short films or full-length pilots, reportedly sifting through many thousands of entries before commissioning a few for public assessment.
First episodes of potential series are made available to everyone, free to view, and audience reviews then help determine whether a series is commissioned, giving viewers a sense of ownership.
But why is Amazon muscling its way into film and television? The answer to the first question is simple: it is doing it because it can.
Over the last five years a technological revolution has seen more and more people watching their favourite films and television shows over the internet.
The company’s second home-grown drama, Hand of God is set in the fictional city of San Vicente and centres around the influential, corrupt, and unstable judge Pernell Harris (Ron Perlman).
Less obviously starry than, say, a House of Cards or a True Detective, it nevertheless tackles age-old moral dilemmas and emotions (in this case, relating to grief and belief) with the same unflinching and grown-up approach as the best of Netflix or HBO.
That means, according to one commentator, Netflix can be expected to commission a slew of “half-hour sitcoms starring millennial viewers’ childhood crushes.” With all the data it’s collected over the years from its customers and their online purchases, as well as everything it observes about their viewing habits on its streaming service, it seems likely Amazon will do something similar. Surely it is better to make programmes based on a deep analysis of viewers’ preferences than to leave the commissioning up to a coterie of highly paid television or film studio executives in their ivory towers?
“I think we’re in a golden age of television,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos told the Telegraph in a recent interview.
While such comments carry an element of, “They would say that, wouldn’t they?
”, they maintain that similar series for conventional broadcasters would have taken years to make.
Realising that the era of the DVD was almost at an end, and the attraction of watching content immediately, at the click of a button, was growing, Amazon set about buying the rights to stream content, and, in 2008, launched Amazon Video on Demand. But, then, in 2011, the service was rebranded as Amazon Instant Video and added access to 5,000 movies and TV shows.