If you told me five years ago that Blockbuster Video was going to start producing and distributing its own original content, I would have laughed -- maybe saying some spiteful things about monkeys with a typewriter and a camera between breaths -- and then ultimately giving into the temptation just to prove myself right. Now, when five-minute YouTube videos have more production value than SyFy’s camped-out, made-for-TV movies, Netflix has an opportunity to further streamline the way we watch our favourite shows – with style.
LilyHammer is the first in Netflix’s planned wave of exclusive, original content in a bid “to become the next HBO with a series of original hits.” Starring Steven Van Zandt of The Sopranos fame, LilyHammer follows ex-New York mobster Frank Tagliano (Van Zandt) as he relocates and adapts to Lillehammer, Norway under the witness protection program. Sure the plot seems trite, but the trailer does a good job of showing off the sort of latent humour that’s bound to follow Tagliano’s attempted transition as an immigrant.
Now that Netflix dominates the realm of video-distribution – turning hundred dollar videogame consoles into portable video stores for a week’s worth of coffee money – they have the perfect medium guaranteed to advertise and distribute their own programming into millions of households. While it remains unclear whether Netflix can transform itself into “the next HBO,” you have to admit it’s an ambitious endeavour; and when your anticipated line-up of new shows includes the project House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, and the exclusive fourth season of the recently-resuscitated Arrested Development, you have a right to be entitled to such grandiose aspirations.
The entire first season of LilyHammer – which comprises eight episodes – is now available for streaming on Netflix. Releasing a whole season at once is a peculiar tactic to say the least, but it affords the audience the chance to forego not only commercials, but the week-long intervals between airings of episodes, making LilyHammer a prime candidate for those inclined to have marathon television sessions.