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The actor John Goodman is blazing a trail as the star of Alpha House, an original comedy series from Amazon Studios that will make its debut next week.

In fact, this whole concept of original television from Amazon is new enough that Jon Stewart, interviewing Goodman last night, wanted to know exactly how it will work. “I didn’t know Amazon did television shows,” said Stewart. “Is that a button you click on the site?”

alpha“I don’t know,” Goodman acknowledged. “I’m selling their product, I’m just a cog in their machine of world domination. As long as they outpoint Walmart, I’m cool.”

He went on to explain that it works through a “gizmo you buy with Amazon” that comes with free TV.

“So it runs only on the Amazon?” Stewart asked, incredulous.

“Yeah, as far as I know,” Goodman said.

OK guys, here’s the deal: The first three episodes of Alpha House will be available for free to everyone starting Nov. 15 via and the Amazon Instant Video apps on a variety of devices, including Kindle Fire, iPad, Roku, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and other platforms. Viewing episodes beyond the first three will require a $79/year Amazon Prime membership, the subscription service that provides free shipping and other benefits.

It’s tempting to take Goodman’s reference to a “gizmo” as confirmation of Amazon’s plans for a set-top box, but given his clear lack of expertise on the subject, that’s probably a stretch.

At any rate, this isn’t a comment on Goodman and Stewart as much as an illustration of the psychological hurdle that Amazon will need to overcome to be taken seriously in the world of original content, competing against Netflix, Hulu and others.

At the end of the segment, Stewart joked that people will “ultimately end up ordering a power washer for no apparent reason” after watching the show.

“But they’re damned good power washers,” Goodman said.

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