Last week, Amazon Studios posted for all to see the first three episodes of "Alpha House," an original political satire set in Washington, D.C. This week, it jumps coasts and lands in the Bay Area with the Silicon Valley startup sitcom, "Betas." Apparently, Amazon has a thing for the Greek alphabet.
"Betas," follows four tech-savvy pals as they attempt to strike it rich with a new mobile social networking app. The cast is mainly stocked with fresh faces, except for veteran actor Ed Begley Jr., who is a hoot as hippie-turned-investment mogul George "The Murch" Murchison.
The show crackles with witty (and jargony) banter and mostly succeeds at making its tech world fun and engaging -- something Randi Zuckerberg's "Start-Up: Silicon Valley" reality series too often failed to do.
But the problem with "Betas" is that it's an uneven endeavor that's just good enough to make you wish it were better.
For example, it has a standout character in Nash (Karan Soni), a programming prodigy who digs Christopher Cross and Kenny Loggins tunes. He's brilliant, but his anal work habits and introverted ways are holding him back, not to mention the fact that he doesn't like to wear pants. He's sweet and endearing and you instantly want to root for him.
But "Betas" also contains stock characters like Hobbes (Jon Daly), a loud-mouthed, Adderall-popping, porn-loving slacker. At 35, he's older than the other guys and sadly realizes that his window of opportunity may be closing soon.
"Thirty-five is like 95 in valley years," he moans.
Daly does bring some needed energy to the proceedings, but we've seen way too many guys like him on TV and film, and too often, he's more annoying than amusing.
As for the app they hope to hit big with, well it's an iffy proposition -- sucking in a user's private information in order to find his or her perfect match. A female character calls it "a stalker's wet dream."
Oh, and one more little bothersome point to make: We know the Golden Gate Bridge is really pretty and cable cars are fun, but can someone please inform Hollywood that San Francisco is not the heart of Silicon Valley?
As with "Alpha House," the first three episodes of "Betas" will be posted on Friday and be available for free for anyone on Amazon.com. Future episodes will appear on a one-a-week basis and will require a subscription to Amazon Prime.