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Meanwhile, on the Internet
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'Meanwhile' is a collaborative blog about all the crazy stuff on the Internet. Here, reporters from various Tribune desks tell you what you (almost) need to know about topics ranging from technology to YouTube sensations. Contributors: Michael McFall, Dave Newlin, Matt Piper, Brennan Smith, Erin Alberty. Edited by Sheena McFarland.

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Amazon takes on Netflix with “Alpha House” series

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.

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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

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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