House of Cards and the Expansion of Original Web Series

I envy those people who had the spare 13 hours this weekend to power through Netflix and Kevin Spacey’s new House of Cards show.

I’m over halfway through the Netflix original series, starring Spacey as a U.S. Congressman hellbent on obtaining political power and ruining those who cross him. Everything about the show is well done, from the cinematography and setting to the acting and writing. Spacey though far and away steals the show from an already capable cast, with his penetrating and smirking asides to the viewing audience giving goosebumps.

This isn’t a review though. I’m only halfway through this first season of 13 episodes. That’s seven episodes since it premiered three days ago, on February 1. How? Because Netflix premiered all 13 episodes at once. No week-to-week waiting. No forced anticipation. You, the viewer, can watch all at once or at your own leisure.

Like I said, I envy those who had the time to finish already.

Netflix, to me, feels very reminiscent of TNT, AMC, USA, FX, and such in their earlier years, where they lived on syndicated shows from other networks long enough to begin their own quality original dramas. It’s the Law and Order and Buffy reruns that lead to Mad Men, Burn Notice, Justified and more. Netflix, and its streaming contemporaries, are at this very same transition. Netflix has this and the upcoming Arrested Development revival. Amazon supposedly has a Zombieland television series in the works, which has me excited.

Even YouTube is fostering the original content game, with its promotion and funding of original YouTube channels over the past year. Even outside of that, creators are bringing prime-time quality series to the service popular from cat videos, with the case-in-point of H+: The Digital Series, produced by Bryan Singer of X-Men fame and about implanted technology gone awry.

You could call me a cord cutter, one who discarded cable television, but that makes it sound more of a proactive choice than it was. Every time I move, my roommates and I just decide not to hook up cable. We get all we need from Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime, with the occasional exception (*CoughDoctorWhoCoughNewsroomCoughGameofThronesCough*). I’ve got enough shows and films in my Netflix Instant Queue to keep me busy for months.

This is a good time for original web series, and all that I’ve said above merely scratches the surface of original television series not on television. However, the traditional tube top isn’t going away any time soon. Regular broadcast television is still going to be here for a while. Bulk cable packages aren’t making way for a la carte channel selection as quickly as people would like. When will HBO offer a streaming-only option? No time soon as long as cable providers cut them breaks on advertising and carrying fees.

We still have a ways to go before HBO and its like can break free from the reigns of cable providers. I’ll have to sit on my hands awaiting for my Game of Thrones fix, but that’s fine since I’ve got House of Cards to keep me entertained.

(Besides, I’ve already read to book five in Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire)

Do you watch television online? How about original web content? Any favorites?

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