Kevin Spacey relaxing on set. (Netflix)
On December 4th Netflix announced that season two of its original series House of Cards will drop the first weekend of February 2014, and all 13 episodes will be available for streaming on Valentine’s Day. I don’t know if that date was chosen based on research into the love lives of HOC fans, but that’s an article for another time. This is about the joy of partaking in one of America's oldest and most treasured pastimes, binging.
But binging isn’t the only thing that makes HOC different, because that’s been going on since Twilight Zone marathons were used to nurse New Year’s Day hangovers.
Years ago, video and DVD rentals gave people the option to watch TV shows without advertisements, but only when the networks decided to release them. Tivo and DVRs sped up that process considerably and put more control in the hands of consumers, but also forced them to play a game in which the viewer tries to stop a commercial playing at 16x speed before going two minutes into the show’s next scene. That game has zero fans.
But HOC may not only kill that game, it may reinvent the way television shows are made. Netflix didn’t simply throw piles of money at twenty different half-baked pilots to see which one scored higher in front of test audiences in Vegas. They assembled a group of talented people including David Fincher and Kevin Spacey to produce a product the company believed in. Tada!