Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Netflix One-Ups HBO with 'Orange is the New Black'

Usually, these announcements don't get a lot of traction, but the mention at Bloomberg about Netflix planning a comedy series, 'Orange is the New Black', based on Piper Kerman's memoir subtitled 'My Year in a Women's Prison' is different. Netflix is going head-to-head with HBO with the roll out of  'Lilyhammer' with Steven Van Zandt (yes, from HBO's 'The Sopranos'), and the gearing up of the David Fincher produced political thriller 'House of Cards' starring Kevin Spacey.

Neither 'Lilyhammer' nor 'House of Cards' resonated with me -- not sure the reason. But, with this third original series, it's hard to ignore the Netflix surge. While the other shows certainly seem okay, should be fun, there's something about 'The New Black' that sets it apart. Maybe it's because it's an established property, a memoir that's gotten plenty of notice. Maybe it's because it's a true story about spending over a year in a minimum security facility on drug trafficking and money laundering charges. Maybe it's that title -- so cool, so 'I'm fucked, so I might as well take notes'. Whatever it is, you know off the bat this will have good energy, will be able to sustain itself from one episode to the next. I mean, you'd have to really botch this to make it boring.

Series like this, that run over a period of 10-30 episodes, are the new TV. Not only is production value very high -- often better than feature films in both the look and story/screenwriting -- but it's becoming more possible to watch anyplace/anytime on phones or slates, etc., via wi-fi or even 4G, or at home, at your convenience, on that new 80-inch TV. This is good for me as I don't bother with seeing movies at the theater anymore -- increasingly, the trend these days. In the time it takes to get ready, drive to the theater, find parking, stand in line, stand in line again, sit through commercials and trailers, watch a movie (that you paid at least ten bucks for), then drive back home, I can stream a high-quality one-hour episode of 'The New Black' or something like it online at a fraction of the cost, then get a snack and settle in for another episode (I love to watch two or three in a row). 'Click and Watch' is the only way.

I just dig that cover, those orange shoes, that title. There's a very cool story here -- something that's actually worth my time. Looking forward to the Netflix slate. Will be there.


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