‘Sneaky Pete’ and ‘Casanova’ – Amazon pilots streaming free

Margo Martindale and Giovanni Ribisi in Sneak Pete on Amazon

Amazon Pilot Season again, though this one is limited to just two hopefuls: Sneaky Pete, created by David Shore (House, M.D.), and Casanova, the first small-screen series from filmmaker Jean-Pierre Jeunet (Amelie).

Sneaky Pete stars Giovanni Ribisi as a con man and an ex-convict who ducks a debt by appropriating the identity of his old cellmate and moving in with the man’s family, who buy his pose (it’s been 20 years since he was sent away and apparently no one went to visit all this time) and welcome him home with open arms. It also lands him in the family bail bond business, where he applies his con artist skills to tracking down bail jumpers.

The series, which co-stars Margo Martindale as the grandmother who isn’t quite convinced of Ribisi’s identity, was originally pitched to CBS, which passed on the show. So Shire and co-producer Bryan Cranston, who also has a supporting part in the pilot, took the show to Amazon. Now it’s up to the viewers to decide if it goes to series.

Diego Luna takes the title role in Casanova, an 18th century period piece which reimagines the legendary lover as a royal spy for the French king, charged with keeping tabs on the royal mistress. This one is shot in Europe and the pilot makes the most of the possibilities: it opens with his escape from Venice and ends in Paris. It’s also got plenty of nudity and some violence, so a parental advisory on this one.

Both pilot episodes are up for all to view, rate, and review; you don’t have to be an Amazon Prime member to see the show or participate in the process.

This model, of crowdsourcing the selection process (or at least giving viewers a significant voice in the process) is unique to Amazon. It’s already resulted in the shows Transparent (Amazon’s most acclaimed original series), Bosch (their most popular), and Mozart in the Jungle, with such upcoming shows as Red Oaks, Hand of God, and The Man in the High Castle either in production or on the release schedule.

Watch the full episodes on Amazon: Sneaky Pete here and Casanova here.


Sean Axmaker is a Seattle film critic and writer. He writes the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website, and his work appears at RogerEbert.com, Turner Classic Movies online, The Film Noir Foundation, and Parallax View.