(Above: The cast of ‘Hand of God.’ Source: Amazon Studios.)
In part three of an exclusive interview with The Savvy Screener, Hand of God executive producer/showrunner Ben Watkins talks about Connoisseur, his new series for USA Network, and shares some of his streaming favorites. The second and final season of Hand of God premieres this Friday, March 10, on Amazon Prime.
TSS: You’re now developing another series, Connoisseur, for USA Network. How does it feel going back to basic cable? Do you feel like the content restrictions of basic cable are getting looser in order to compete with streaming services?
Watkins: It’s been a blast. I have a great relationship with USA, I’m working with a great young writer in Gary Lundy, and having John Cho involved early on to star has been fantastic. The bonus is that places like Amazon have really helped change the landscape of TV so the storytelling across the board, whether it’s broadcast, basic cable or streaming is very ambitious. The way I like it.
“(P)laces like Amazon have really helped change the landscape of TV so the storytelling across the board, whether it’s broadcast, basic cable or streaming is very ambitious.”
TSS: What, if anything, will Connoisseur have in common with your previous series? How will it break new ground?
“Connoisseur is a fresh take on a con show with a heavy dose of wish fulfillment.”
Watkins: I like to color outside the lines. I’m always trying to find new and original ways to explore the human condition. Hand of God is a dark psychological thriller that explores spirituality. Connoisseur is a fresh take on a con show with a heavy dose of wish fulfillment. We get to see an impostor infiltrate the rarified air of the one percent and take them to the cleaners, but we wonder who’s really paying the price. They both offer an unexpected perspective on who we are and the society we live in. I’m also very excited to be involved in a project that will be the first one-hour drama headlined by an Asian character.
“I’m also very excited to be involved in a project that will be the first one-hour drama headlined by an Asian character.”
TSS: What are some of your favorite streaming programs – TV series or original films?
I’m going to let a little secret out of the bag. I love to watch TV with my kids – so we watch a lot of animation. And I have to say the multilevel storytelling they’re doing is pretty dope. I’m talking about shows like Adventure Time, The Amazing World of Gumball , Steven Universe, and my current favorite – We Bare Bears. I’ve been calling myself Ice Bear and talking in the third person a lot lately. [Editor’s note: all the preceding shows are on Cartoon Network.]
Without the kids, everything I watch is streaming because I’m always getting to the party late. And it’s almost all TV, because TV is kicking ass these days. So I’m catching up on The Night Of, Atlanta, Insecure and Stranger Things. Shows that color outside the lines.
(See part one of the Ben Watkins interview for a discussion of season two of Hand of God and part two for a discussion of the differences between creating original content for a streaming service versus a basic cable network.)
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