First Look review: Amazon Prime Instant Video TV series Alpha House
Chris Bryant | On 27, Feb 2014
As Amazon Prime Instant Video launches in the UK, one of its first pieces of new content is the Amazon Original sitcom, Alpha House, which was commissioned on the back of strong public response to a pilot last year.
Does it get the new service off to a good start? We look at the first few episodes of Amazon’s first original programme to hit the UK.
Following the departure of their friend (Bill Murray, whose only line is “Fuck”), three out-of-touch, lazy Republican senators need a housemate. Led by John Goodman, the senators go about their daily political lives appearing bored, confused and dim-witted. You may look the same after watching Alpha House.
Struggling not to come across like frat boys in suits, the trio continue to make poorly-informed decisions before looking blandly shocked at their consequences. While sitting behind a variety of desks, perpetuating the most basic media-driven stereotype of Republicans, they discover a young hotshot (Mark Consuelos) and ask him to join their merry band of two dimensions.
With no political acumen at all, Consuelos’ character exists solely to be younger and more sexually active than his new cohorts. Within two episodes of Season 1, the jokes revolving around John Goodman being overweight have worn thin, the jokes centered on Clark Johnson being black have been made and Matt Malloy is short and bald, so that gets some attention too.
Frankly, it’s a real battle to not dislike any of the characters – with their lack of skills or willpower to do good with their jobs, they hold no real draw or relatability. While the character writing is weak and obvious, the comedy writing is barely existent. Devoid of any real laughs, the gags seem contrived and flat.
With some comic heavyweights and some smart cameos, Alpha House is relatively well put together as a show. The timing and dialogue are correlated well and in spite of the script, the performances help to give the show some actual identity. It’s lit, shot and scored in a manner consistent with its political counterparts. All of which, although creating a sense of familiarity, does beg the question: “Why am I not watching Veep?”
It may well be that Alpha House, like its inhabitants, is just too dim and boring to succeed.