Amazon takes on Netflix with “Alpha House” series

First Published      Last Updated Nov 15 2013 03:43 pm

Today, Amazon officially takes on Netflix.

Today is when the giant online retailer debuts its very first original series made for Amazon's Watch Instantly service. You have to be an Amazon Prime member to watch all of the series, but Amazon has graciously made the first three episodes available for free.

The show is called "Alpha House." It's a half-hour comedy by "Doonsbury" creator Gary Trudeau about four Republican congressmen who live in the same apartment in Washington, D.C.

The pilot wasn't as biting or as funny as it ought to be, but it's got a great cast, including John Goodman and "The Wire's" Clark Johnson (who's also a great director), and it's got a lot of potential for great political satire. Hopefully it pays off.

It also might be an extra incentive to get on Amazon's Prime membership, which gives you free two-day shipping on millions of items sold through Amazon, and you get access to the site's Watch Instantly video streaming section that's very much like Netflix.

"Alpha House" is the first of four new original series that Amazon is launching this year. The second, "Betas," launches late next week and is about a group of mobile app developers trying to get their startup off the ground. The pilot is available to watch for free here. The other two programs are children's series that are launching soon.

— Vince Horiuchi