Amazon goes alpha-beta with original series launches

Michelle Clancy | 05-11-2013

After popular pilots went over big on its online streaming service, Amazon is launching full, 11-episode seasons of two original series, Alpha House and Betas.

Alpha House follows four senators-turned-unlikely-roommates, while young tech industry entrepreneurs are the subject of Betas. Alpha House debuts 15 November, with Betas to follow on 22 November.

The first three episodes of each show will be available to all Amazon customers for free via Amazon Instant Video so they can try out the shows and get to know the characters. After that, one episode of each show will become available weekly, exclusively on Prime Instant Video.

"Based on customers' enthusiastic response to the pilot episodes we are counting down the days until we can share more of the political and entrepreneurial exploits of our Alpha House and Betas characters," said Roy Price, director of Amazon Studios. "Our goal is to make great TV shows that customers will love, and we hope they're going to love these shows."

He added: "We will release new episodes via Prime Instant Video week by week so that customers can chat about the shows and build up anticipation. We're constantly experimenting and trying new things and we're eager to hear customers' feedback on this model."

Alpha House, which was written by Academy Award nominee and Pulitzer Prize winner Garry Trudeau and produced by Trudeau, Elliot Webb and Jonathan Alter, is a comedy about four misfit senators (John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos) who rent a house together in Washington DC. The roomies are joined by Cynthia Nixon (Sex and the City), Amy Sedaris (Strangers with Candy), Wanda Sykes (Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Julie White (Go On), who share in the outrageous and sometimes all-too-real follies of Washington politics.

"The first season is about the fight for survival among incumbent Republican senators first elected in the pre-Tea Party era. Even though they're all solidly conservative, three of the four senators living in Alpha House are facing strong primary challenges from the right. The struggle to hold onto their core values drives both the comedy and the drama in our show," said Trudeau. "We think we've kept the show realistic in its essential details, while taking broad satirical liberties you might expect. We also tried to make a few political points along the way, but mostly we wanted the show to be as much fun for the audience as we and the cast had making it."

Meanwhile, set in the land of Silicon Valley start-ups, Betas, written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, follows four friends as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni, Jon Daly, Charlie Saxton, and Maya Erskine star in the show, with special appearances from Ed Begley Jr. Michael Lehmann directs and produces the show along with Emmy Award winners Alan Freedland and Alan Cohen, and Michael London.

"We're thrilled that Amazon has given us the creative freedom to produce a show like Betas," said Freedland. "And we're excited for audiences to watch it on their TVs, tablets, phones ... and devices not yet invented."