The number of notable series exclusively available on streaming services continues to grow. Starting today, anyone can sample the first three episodes of "Alpha House," created by Garry Trudeau, on Amazon.com. Newer episodes will arrive on a weekly basis and can be watched only by subscribers of Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Goodman and co-stars Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos play four U.S. senators who share an apartment while serving (or avoiding) their constituents in Washington, D.C.
This premise is based on a real crash pad shared by Sens. Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin and Reps. Bill Delahunt and George Miller, who were profiled in a much-discussed 2007 New York Times article, "Taking Power, Sharing Cereal." The senators on "Alpha" are more likely to share bourbon.
This isn't Goodman's first role as a D.C. power broker. He played a conservative, pug-owning speaker of the house who briefly assumed the presidency on "The West Wing." Trudeau wrote "Tanner '88," a great fake documentary HBO miniseries directed by Robert Altman that followed a fictitious candidate (Michael Murphy) over the course of the real primary season of 1988.
The humor in "Alpha" is a tad broader than in "Tanner," but both draw from reality, or a wishful interpretation of reality. "Alpha" lacks the fake Shakespearean pretense of Netflix's "House of Cards" and the slapstick of HBO's "Veep." But it does have Goodman, who inhabits his character, a former college basketball coach turned Republican senator from North Carolina. Goodman's Gil John Biggs is comfortable enough in his skin, his manhood and his popularity to brush off the need to campaign for re-election -- until a rival emerges who just happens to be a more successful basketball coach.
Don't go looking for obvious punch lines. The setting, involving the insecurity of powerful middle-aged men bunking up on sleeper couches, fighting off tea party insurgents and avoiding their wives, is often funny enough.
Look for Bill Murray in a brief, memorable cameo in the show's pilot as a former roommate who goes from the senators' shared quarters to the more secure accommodations of federal prison.
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Kevin McDonough can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.