COCKED: Samuel Baum on the Amazon Pilot Season, What's to Come in (a Potential) Season 1 - Give Me My Remote : Give Me My Remote

COCKED: Samuel Baum on the Amazon Pilot Season, What’s to Come in (a Potential) Season 1

February 9, 2015 by  

cocked-photoAmazon is once again doing its pilot season, and seven potentially new original shows are in contention to potentially move forward.

One of the shows that’s caught my attention is COCKED, a family drama that centers around the Paxons…whose family business is a gun manufacturing company. (It stars Sam Trammell, Jason Lee, Dreama Walker, and Brian Dennehy.)

To get a little more insight into COCKED — and the Amazon pilot process — I spoke with series co-creator Samuel Baum to see what he could share (slight spoilers for the COCKED pilot, so if you haven’t watched it yet, check it out here)

How has the Amazon pilot season process been for you?
Samuel Baum: The pilot process is definitely different with Amazon, because the approach of sharing the pilot with the audience and getting feedback. It’s great, because you get real time reactions to what you’ve written, rather than a tiny [group] of network executives holed up in a hotel suite a couple of days before the upfronts, the audience gets to weigh in and play a role in what the programming is.

Generally speaking, people are encouraged to not read the comments, but have you been checking out what people have said about the pilot? And how has your behavior changed over the weeks of this process?
SB: I definitely have read a bunch of the comments. Some of the feedback is really helpful about the series, and obviously some of it tells you more about the person watching than the program they just watched.

Aside from the audience seeing the episode, how has the pilot process with Amazon been different for you versus a traditional network?
SB: I give Amazon a lot of credit, because they’re really fearless when it comes to what pilots they’ll make. They’re willing to explore subject matter at least some other networks wouldn’t touch; that’s very creatively liberating when you want to take on subject matter that is challenging and provocative. That’s the first thing.

Aside from being very creatively open, the actual production process is very similar to any other pilot, with the added dynamic that you get more creative freedom in the process as well. But in the production standpoint, it’s identical to other budgets of other premium cable [networks].

And Amazon made an awards splash when TRANSPARENT won a couple of Golden Globes.
SB: Yeah, it’s terrific. I give these guys a lot of credit that in a short amount of time, they’ve managed to break through a very cluttered landscape, and I think part of that, is a credit to the creative risk-taking they’re taking with what shows they make. You can galvanize an audience when you’re willing to take risks and put things on TV that you can’t find elsewhere. I think that’s the quality I respond to. As network partners, they’re pretty fearless.

Have you spoken with Amazon about how COCKED season 1 would be released if it goes forward? And how would its release pattern impact the storytelling?
SB: I believe it would be a single release of all the episode, as was the case with TRANSPARENT and their other recent releases.

It doesn’t impact the writing tremendously. I think the difference between a show that’s released weekly — like on broadcast, for example — versus a show you can binge-watch is the amount of resetting you need to do. There’s something really nice knowing that the next episode someone is going to watch is relatively fresh in their mind, and it hasn’t been a week, or possibly a month since they’ve seen the show. So there’s less of a need to rehash things that people already know.

There’s also the factor that if a viewer joins your show a season or two into its run, odds are good they’ll start from the pilot and then catch up, versus starting at episode 7 or 24. Does that impact how you craft this story?
SB: It’s a huge advantage. You make a really good point — to me, the best series television asks a thematic question on the outset and it is answered over the entire course of the series. So the question is posed at the beginning of the show, and hopefully many seasons worth of story explore that question — you skew one side and then you skew the other, and hopefully, if the writer and the other producers of the show have learned something by going on this exploration with the audience, and it lands with the series finale, the very final episode. And perhaps then, with whatever position the show finally takes on the subject matter is revealed, which may be very different than what it was in the beginning. It’s very helpful if people have been on the ride, have been on the bus since the very beginning versus having missed the first season, or having missed the first seven episodes.

That makes sense. What kind of research did you do for this project?
SB: Extensive research, and technical consultants who work in the gun industry were very helpful the process. So a combination of talking with gun manufacturing experts, gun safety experts, and also just getting out and understanding the big tent that comprises of gun owners. It’s a very big tent. One of the goals of the show is to see a real range of views on the subject of self-protecting.

Fundamentally, this is not a legislative show. This is a show about the choices we make in how to protect ourself. The very first question, the very first line of dialogue you hear in the pilot is a gun spokesman saying, “In an ever-more dangerous world, how do you protect yourself and your family?” And that’s really the question. The central theme of the show is home protection: how do you protect your kids from things like obesity, violence. How do you protect yourself from a boss that exploits you? A [shaky] marriage? And then, on a very simple level, how do you protect your safety? We all have to answer that question in a world that at least seems more dangerous than ever. I think there are no easy answers; if there were, there would be no show here. There are real trade offs, and I think it’s complicated.

Absolutely. If the show goes forward, what can you preview about what’s in store?
SB: Well, I have a feeling that Richard’s family may be crash-landing for quite some time back in his hometown. That will cause quite a shakeup in the lives of every member of his family. For better and for worse, in all kinds of ways. In this small town, they’re kind of like the Kennedys. It’ll be a big change for everyone.

How will Grady’s probation play into season 1’s arc?
SB: Well, he’s going to really need to get it together, because if you are convicted of a felony, you can’t get near a firearm, legally. So there are real stakes for him if he’s actually charged with a felony. Of course, there’s the also the big series question of who this mole is. No spoilers!

Is that a series-long question, or is that more of a season 1 question?
SB: More of a season 1 question.

Fantastic. There were a lot of really big, seemingly difficult scenes to shoot. Which one was the hardest one to tackle?
SB: The first thing I’d say, creatively, is, to me, the greatest transgression you can commit as a storyteller is to be boring. The one promise I made at the outset of getting COCKED set up is that this is a show that’s going to be a really fun and wild ride. It’s going to be surprising and turn things on its head in ways you don’t normally see. Just as there are surprising turns in Westerns, which I think has some relationships to this show, this is a show full of surprises. I definitely wanted some action in the show so that we could feel the kinds of surprise and intensity the whole series has.

On a production level, the fire — a very gracious and committed Sam Trammell (Richard), who was gung-ho to do anything, put himself in a burning car. I have to thank him for his commitment to those scenes, in addition to his stunt double.

Will the show be sustaining that level of high-intensity going forward in every episode?
SB: I think there will likely be high-stakes action in many of the episodes. I don’t know about all, but the interesting thing about the business of guns is that the stakes are high, and you always look for that in hour-long storytelling. If this family business made bicycles as they did before World War II, before they started out, you wouldn’t have the kinds of stakes you do in the show. The ethical dilemmas you face with life-or-death stakes in the gun manufacture [world] are very, very high. If there’s a flaw in the manufacturing process, and the product you produce is guns, it’s very different than if the product you produce are dolls. It’s a very high-stakes world. And one where frequently no good deed goes unpunished. It makes for a fair amount of humor and dilemmas for the characters.

Have you checked out COCKED yet?

Follow @GiveMeMyRemote and @marisaroffman on Twitter for the latest TV news. Connect with other TV fans on GIVE ME MY REMOTE’s official Facebook page.

And be the first to see our exclusive videos by subscribing to our YouTube channel at

Filed under Cocked

Comments Off on COCKED: Samuel Baum on the Amazon Pilot Season, What’s to Come in (a Potential) Season 1


Comments are closed.