Netflix, an Internet streaming and DVD rental company, dropped its first-ever original TV series, “House of Cards,” in its full season online on January 31st.
The series is an adaptation of the critically acclaimed U.K. series of the same name, and it has successfully transformed the plot to fit the U.S. political landscape. Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a ruthless congressman who thought his time had come when the newly elected President was supposed to nominate him as the Secretary of State to return his favor, only finds his expectation crushed. He then works with his loyal wife Claire (Robin Wright), who runs a non-profit organization and his Chief of Staff Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) to carefully and mercilessly carry out his plans of revenge. Together, they manipulate the ambitious young journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) and alcoholic congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) to reclaim his political ambitions.
Besides these big name stars in both leading and supporting roles, the series is directed by David Fincher, who also has a record of numerous critically acclaimed films such as Fight Club and The Social Network.
The $100 million gamble on original programming has received very positive ratings, with Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, Ted Sarandos, claiming it to be the most-watched show on the site although he wouldn’t disclose the actual number. The success of Netflix in launching its original programs rattled TV networks, which are worried that TV is soon to become a past page.
Has Netflix become a game changer? I wouldn’t say yes yet. Netflix is changing itself from a streaming platform to a content producer, so in that sense, it definitely has changed its own definition. However, House of Cards is still a TV series, and it completely borrowed from the format cable and broadcasters have established. The only breakthrough Netflix made from TV, aside from having commercial breaks, is that it let people “binge” by dropping the 13 episodes of the season all at once. Binging is definitely a behavior Internet viewers are obsessed with, and because Netflix’s goal is not to draw advertisers but to increase its online subscription, pleasing viewers seems to be its top priority. Fincher and Spacey backed the idea too.
“The world of 7:30 on Tuesday nights, that’s dead. A stake has been drive through its heart, its head has been cut off, and its mouth has been stuffed with garlic,” Fincher once said. “The captive audience is gone. If you give people this opportunity to mainline all in one day, there’s reason to believe they will do it.” Spacey also called the model a “new perspective.”
However, what comes quickly goes quickly too. Without “hooking” viewers with an episode per week, how long the series will occupy viewers after they have binged it on a weekend remains a question. When Netflix satisfies viewers by giving them what they want immediately, anticipation will not build up as it does with traditional TV. When I binged the series on a 2 to 3 episodes per day average, it definitely had me hooked but not itching because I could simply satisfy myself within a click. Also, in the era of social networking, if the show fails to engage people in talking about it constantly on Twitter or Facebook, then it has denied itself the best approach for publicity.
Network Insights has provided statistics of social activities the show has spurred, which indicates that people talked a lot about House of Cards when it premiered initially and slowed down since then, but it did increase slightly over the weekend when most people binge.
The only way Netflix could keep the attraction is to speed up and release the second season as soon as possible and create more original programs, which it already started. It plans to premiere its original horror series “Hemlock Grove” in April and picked up a new season of “Arrested Development” after Fox canceled on it, according to a report by USA Today.
But will the profits subscription brings make money or even cover the cost of producing this original content similar to what big TV networks are doing? How many more subscriptions can it get until it reaches saturation? The temporary success of House of Cards won’t insure the future of Netflix in this fast-changing time.
A new friend I met last week at a dinner party couldn’t help telling me about “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries,” a modernized “Pride and Prejudice” two students put up on YouTube. Although every episode lasts only a few minutes, it has kept running for more than 80 episodes. People are obsessed with it and talking about it online constantly. The actors even created Twitter accounts in the name of the characters’ like Jane and Lydia and tweet live between each other.
Though I don’t expect Netflix to be producing something like this, it shows that there’s boundary in the Internet era. Netflix has already showed its willingness to be the pioneer, to be defined and redefined. It has to dig deeper and look further. How it can utilize all aspects of the Internet instead of bowing to its big brother TV will be a determining factor in whether Netflix will break ground and hasten the coming of a new era.
Star Wars™ Pinball: Star Wars Rebels™
Zen Studios has concocted a ruse of amusement, it’s a trap—of fun. Star Wars™ Pinball: Star Wars Rebels™, established by the critically acclaimed animated TV show on Disney XD, Star Wars Rebels™, releases endorphins chock full of nostalgia and bliss. With all of the Star Wars talk going on as of late, it’s nice to get in your daily need of pew pew! Stormtroopers assemble and try to take down the hero of Lothal, the whole mission thing is a bit nuts. This pinball table goes to a galaxy far far away by delving into an age that has yet to be traversed by the films. Zen studios gets the balance of the force just right, do not try to get this table, do it.
Pinball FX-2 Avengers: Age of Ultron
Zen Studios does it again with Pinball FX2 – Marvel Avenger’s: Age of Ultron. This table is available on PC, Xbox One, and Playstation 4. Avengers Assemble! Age of Ultron quenches a thirst for adventure you didn’t know you had. Players assist Iron Man in finishing his most aspiring venture to date. The profound and climactic soundtrack will rip you out of the comfort of your chair and into the Age of Ultron. Enjoy this audacious addition to the Avenger’s universe, Thor’s might is on your side. The Incredible Hulk, Hawkeye, and Black Widow make a gargantuan attempt at arresting the nefarious Ultron. Pull yourself together and check out this game, you can’t afford more mistakes. The god of thunder favors you.
Shaking the Habitual, The Knife | Album Review
Shaking the Habitual is something every person needs more of in life. Stepping outside of boundaries and entering a new experience can have a confounding effect on the senses. Rhythm and movement resonate from the deepest depths of the soul and project outward in an array of vibrancy.
What starts off like a indigenous ceremony quickly changes to a post apocalyptic nuclear wasteland by the third track, “A Cherry on Top.” Then, finding semblance in a 19 minute interlude, “Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized,” the brother-and-sister duo reemerge in ritualistic fashion with the deep bass line of “Raging Lung”. Ending with an unsettling aptitude, Fracking Fluid Injection precedes the final track, Ready to Lose; providing insight to a larger contextual effect this album has in a world seeming “Full of Fire.”
Although difficult to fully embody the composition of electronic and aboriginal noise heard in The Knife’s new album, Shaking the Habitual, any movement to the music is sure to conjure emotion. At times, the May release represents a more archetypal sound in the art of music.
Tying together components of old and new, the Swedish duo creates a spellbinding effect with the first track, A Tooth For an Eye. Amalgamating dominant instrumentations, subtle synth lines and underlying vocals, A Tooth For and Eye entices the listener with something seldom projected over the airwaves.
Coming off a seven year hiatus, the duo can predominate with an electronic influence, but, ultimately the seamless transition across a spectrum of sound grasps the ear. Delivered in its entirety, the lasting impression might leave one feeling like a participant of a seance.
— Rob Donovan