Sunday, February 3, 2013

House of Cards Shows a Winning Hand

A very interesting experiment is unfolding on Netflix this week and I predict it's going to be a winner. They've premiered a dark, engaging, top notch political drama....and all 13 of the series episodes are available to download instantly on Netflix.  I think this innovative television approach is going to work because the series stars Kevin Spacy as a Machiavellian politician with a menacing southern drawl.  And there's no better time to show case a D.C. villain than now, with public official approval ratings in America at an all time low.  I think it's also ripe for success because Robin Wright stars as his even colder, meaner, psychopath wife.  And I still haven't forgiven her for being mean to Forrest Gump as Jenny the space cadet hippie.  So she's extra easy to boo and hiss. 

But the real reason I think the time is perfect for a series like this on Netflix is because of tablets.  Kindle Fire and iPad ownership is exploding, and there's nothing quite like curling up in bed with a darling little device that lets you watch about a billion hours of TV in a row.  Studies have actually shown that insomnia has increased because nobody can put down their tablets at night.  There's a small blue glow emanating from the bedrooms of millions of Americans.  It's a new army of Netflix zombies being born.  I don't think it's going to be the end of TV consumption as we know it anytime soon.  But if I was in charge of  Pay-Per-View at any of the cable companies I'd be getting that resume polished.  I personally have not succumbed to overly expensive PPV movies in over a month.  Now, if there's nothing on TV, I'm glued to my Kindle Fire HD and it will take me years to plow through all the stuff I'm finding on Netflix.

I've watched the first two episodes of House of Cards and I'm impressed so far.  The imagery is mesmerizing.  It makes me want to visit the capital and look at the Lincoln monument at night.  Kevin Spacy's character is terrifying and charming.  He's like a political Dexter.  From time to time he narrates the series by staring directly at the camera.  That doesn't bother me as much as some critics, who think this technique is old hat now.  If it was anyone less than Spacy, I'm not sure it would work.

It will be loads of fun to see if this innovation will result in a spike of subscribers for Netflix.  I still remember the howling when they split their business model into streaming vs. DVD delivery.  It didn't make much sense at the time, but boy oh boy it sure does now.  Just as one word defined a generation in the movie The Graduate (plastics!), it's quite possible one word will define a shift in television viewing for the 21st Century.  Tablets!

As they say in the business...stay tuned!

1 comment:

Lisa said...

I agree this show is working -- my husband has watched the entire run and I've done a couple so far. I am still a TV-watcher but watch Netflix overnight a lot on my TV. Definitely a whole new ballgame out there -- I still wonder, though, how everybody's going to pay for the content that's getting eaten up with this consumption, although there's enough to last most people a lifetime...