While Hulu's been adding original series from the likes of Richard Linklater, and Morgan Spurlock and Netflix unveiled Steve Van Zandt mobster dramedy "Lilyhammer" as its own first original show in February, the true test of the impact a TV series created for and premiering exclusively on a streaming site can have is going to be David Fincher's "House of Cards." The political drama, which stars Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and Kate Mara is the highest profile original project in this new in-between medium, and unlike the resurrected "Arrested Development," did not start as a broadcast show (though it is a remake of a BBC miniseries).
And today Netflix announced that it has set a February 1st, 2013 premiere date for "House of Cards," which is produced by Trigger Street Productions in association with Media Rights Capital. More interestingly, all 13 episodes will be made available at once in all of Netflix's territories (North America, the UK, Ireland, Latin America and Scandinavia), rather than being staggered over weeks in the traditional small screen serialized fashion.
This is how series that have already aired on TV usually hit the streaming site, a season at a time, but it also means that the project was theoretically created with this viewing possibility in mind. Eli Roth and writer Brian McGreevy, who are working on their own Netflix series "Hemlock Grove," described their project as "a 13-hour independent movie" rather than something more focused on the episodic aspects of serialized storytelling.
Given that "House of Cards" was created for Netflix with this launch in mind, it'll be interesting to see whether (and how) this effects the way the narrative develops. "In offering the entire season at once," said Ted Sarandos, Netflix's Chief Content Officer, "Netflix is giving viewers complete control over how and when they watch the show."
Fincher, making his first foray into TV with "House of Cards," directed the first two episodes -- James Foley (“Glengarry Glen Ross”), Joel Schumacher (“Falling Down”), Charles McDougall (“The Good Wife”), Carl Franklin (“Devil in a Blue Dress”) and Alan Coulter (“The Sopranos”) are among the other episode directors. Beau Willimon (the playright behind "Farragut North," which was adapted into the film "The Ides of March") is the writer.
The series is set in D.C. and is centered around House Majority Whip Francis Underwood (Spacey), a charming but ruthless politician with an equally ambitious wife named Claire (Wright). Mara, Corey Stoll (“Midnight in Paris”), Kristen Connolly (“The Cabin in the Woods”), Michael Kelly (“The Adjustment Bureau”) and Sakina Jaffrey (“Definitely Maybe”) are also in the cast.
"House of Cards" has already been renewed for a second season due to start production in spring of next year. Fincher, Willimon, Joshua Donen, Eric Roth, Kevin Spacey, Dana Brunetti, Andrew Davies, Michael Dobbs and John Melfi are all serving as executive producers.