By Erik Grove
Welcome to a terrifying special edition of Erik's Weekly Watch! It's October 31st and that can only mean one thing for ghouls, monsters and things that stalk the night; the US midterm national elections are happening next week. If you live in the US (with apologies to the Bleeding Cool readers outside of this country) you've probably seen billboards, heard radio advertisements, ignored popup advertisements on some of your favorite websites, and left the room to get some snacks during endless TV commercials for political candidates and state initiatives. In the midst of all this sound and fury, Amazon has unleashed the second season of Gary Trudeau's political satire Alpha House and I can think of no better way to celebrate (and lampoon) this season of horror than streaming an episode or ten.
If you're not familiar with Alpha House, I'll do my best to get you caught up to date while the popcorn is popping. In an effort to compete with Netflix and other online content providers, Amazon Studios produced a volley of pilot episodes that visitors to Amazon.com could vote for to get full season orders. Alpha House was one of the early standouts, a political comedy created by Trudeau in the vein of his long running Doonesbury comic and starring John Goodman, Clark Johnson, Matt Malloy and Mark Consuelos as Republican Senators sharing a house and preparing for the mid-term elections. The show boasts a slew of comedian and political cameos and brims with inside the Beltway references and jabs. The first season was successful and well-regarded enough that Alpha House became the first (and so far, only) Amazon Studios series to produce a second season.
The second season picks up exactly where the first left off, in the middle of election season. Consuelos's Senator Guzman continues maneuvering himself for a run at the Oval Office – with frequent distractions for womanizing and a scandal or two. Goodman's Senator Biggs finds himself pitted against a war hero competitor for his senate seat and a daughter starring on a reality TV show. Johnson's Senator Bettencourt finds his personal life turned upside down as the Love Doctor becomes the Love Sick and Mallloy's Senator Laffer continues to awkwardly and clueless bumble out double entendre. The comedy is as sharp and pointed as the first season but comes faster and more confidently. The satire is sharper and a bit more bi-partisan. Where the first season landed virtually all jokes on Republicans there are a few more elbows thrown at liberals in this season.
Alpha House is one of several politically themed TV shows on the air (and web) but it distinguishes itself by boasting Trudeau's experienced biting humor and the veteran comedic talents of its cast, especially Goodman's quotable Southern senator. Not all of Amazon Studios productions have been up to the same level of quality and have seemed more rushed and unfocused than the original productions from rival Netflix, but Alpha House stands out for all the right reasons. With only 10 half-hour original episodes in the second season, there's a lot of great reasons to binge-watch Alpha House as we count down to the final election day headlines.
Erik Grove is a writer living in Portland, Oregon. You can read his work at www.erikgrove.com and follow him on Twitter @erikgrove