Amazon will make its official entry into the world of original programming this month with the launches of "Alpha House" and "Betas," its first two half-hour comedy series. The company announced launch dates for both shows today -- "Alpha House" will premiere on November 15th and "Betas" will follow on November 22nd.
Both series will be getting 11 episode seasons. Unlike internet TV rival Netflix, Amazon won't be releasing full seasons all at once, but instead will be going for something in between that approach and a more traditional weekly rollout. Amazon will be releasing the first three episodes of each series to everyone for free via Amazon Instant Video on Kindle Fire, iPad, iPhone, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii and Wii U, and the web.
After that, one episode of each show will go live weekly, available only via Amazon's subscription service, Prime Instant Video. The company put pilots for eight original comedies online in April (along with pilots for six children's shows), and determined which to order to series with the help of viewer data and feedback.
"Alpha House," which was written and produced by Pulitzer-Prize winner Garry Trudeau (of "Doonesbury") is a comedy about four misfit senators (John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos) who rent a house together in Washington DC. Cynthia Nixon, Amy Sedaris, Wanda Sykes and Julie White are also slated to appear.
"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," explains 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." Watch the pilot here.
Written by Evan Endicott and Josh Stoddard, "Betas" is set in the world of Silicon Valley start-ups follows four friends who are trying to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. Joe Dinicol, Karan Soni, Jon Daly, Charlie Saxton and Maya Erskine star, and Ed Begley Jr. is also slated to appear. “We're thrilled that Amazon has given us the creative freedom to produce a show like Betas,” said producer Alan Freedland. "And we're excited for audiences to watch it on their TVs, tablets, phones... and devices not yet invented." Watch the pilot here.