A dark horse has showed up on this year’s Emmy nominations: the Netflix original series House of Cards, which garnered three nods (Kevin Spacey as outstanding lead in a drama, Robin Wright as outstanding lead actress in a drama, and outstanding drama series). The nominations have catapulted the series into the spotlight, but more than that, they’ve highlighted a growing trend in edgy, fantastic, original programming: you might just find it online.
The long-delayed fourth season of Fox cult hit Arrested Development debuted on Netflix this weekend, to cries of delights from fans—10% of whom proceeded to marathon the show, consuming all 15 episodes in 48 hours or less. I wanted to be one of them, except for one small problem: it wasn’t very good.
Christmas Day brought about the start of a new era on Doctor Who, as the Doctor himself reminded us while we met the woman destined to be his new companion along with the revamped TARDIS and title sequence. It might have felt a little abrupt to wipe the slate clean that way after the fall of the Ponds, but instead it felt more like turning over a new leaf, a reminder that change is constant when you’re a Time Lord, and each change is the start of the next great adventure, rather than something to be mourned.
I find myself oddly mermerised by ABC’s 666 Park Avenue, something I really wasn’t expecting when I first started watching the series. The pilot suggested a run of the mill horror drama that might have a few interesting elements, but ultimately wouldn’t hold my interest very long; this kind of television is not really what I look for, usually. I tend to prefer complex, slow dramas that rely more on subtle shifts of tone and plot to develop the story and the characters while keeping me engaged as a viewer, rather than more showy productions.
Despite AMC’s rivalry with Dish Network, Breaking Bad netted a record number of viewers for its hotly-anticipated season five premiere. This final season of the hit drama will contain two eight episode sections, and there’s a great deal to pack into these 16 episodes if the creators intend to wrap up the story. It’s unlikely creator Vince Gilligan will leave everything neatly packaged in a bow, though, because so much of Breaking Bad is about subtlety and ambiguity.
Watching HBO’s Girls felt like standing around at a party with a bunch of people trading insider jokes I don’t get; at the same time that I was being welcomed as part of the club, it was obvious that I was not one of them. Girls is definitely for someone, but I didn’t get the impression that this someone was me. The question is: who is Girls for?
ABC’s Don’t Trust the B— In Apartment 23 premieres on 11 April as a midseason replacement. It would seem that the network is going both light and swear-avoidant with its midseason pickups; both Apartment 23 and GCB are comedies that have gone through multiple name changes to avoid using the dreaded B-word. This half-hour situation comedy has all of the bark and none of the bite, through. Unlike GCB, it’s not a biting satire on modern society, not is it intended to be.
After a bit of a production delay, Spartacus: Vengeance kicked off the season with a bloodbath from beginning to end, interspersed with the occasional soft-core porn. The Starz adaptation of the Spartacus legend is already noted for its unique production style, meant to evoke the film 300, with an added note of ultraviolence that wasn’t possible in a production intended for theatre audiences. Producers of the series have embraced and fed the apparent desire for blood on the part of cable consumers with a series sopped in nonstop death; viewers either become inured within minutes, or presumably turn the television off out of disgust, depending on their tastes.
Doctor Who fans around the world were far more interested in the landfall of this year’s Christmas special, ‘The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe,’ than they were in the progress of NORAD Tracks Santa, which is incidentally perhaps one of the best defense-related uses of my tax dollars I can possibly imagine. They gathered ‘round their televisions (or torrents) with glee, made sure their beverage containers were fully supplied, and prepared to settle in for a dose of winter magic on the BBC. They were not disappointed.
ABC’s Revenge is bringing some delicious class commentary to the table in what would otherwise be a fairly conventional (though still enjoyable!) television drama. Rich girl goes to The Hamptons to get revenge on the people who orchestrated her father’s downfall isn’t exactly the stuff of which radical television is made, no, not even when she’s swapping identities with someone she met in juvenile detention. Where things start to get interesting in the world of Emily Thorne and the people she’s targeted for revenge is that members of the servant class are not relegated to the background, but instead play fully realised roles in the narrative. Important roles, at that.