I have no need to worry about a Valentine’s Day date because regardless of who I’m hanging out with in real life, I know I’ll have Kevin Spacey and the return of House of Cards.
This show had me hooked in the first two minutes of the first episode. The first scene with Kevin Spacey and a hit and run accident in his neighborhood gives you some insight into just how his character, Congressman Frank Underwood, operates, although it’s not really obvious how deep that runs for a few scenes yet. (And wait ’til a few episodes in. Whoa.) This episode was all I needed to commit to the whole season. The introduction of online journalist Zoe and her desire to publish the dirtiest Washington news as quickly as possible, Underwood’s fascinating relationship with his wife, played by Robin Wright, and Spacey’s occasional breaking of the fourth wall done like I’ve never seen it done before are all factors in just how much I like the show. Ultimately, it all adds up to gripping storytelling, and that’s always a hit with me.
House of Cards had a lot of competition among shows I hadn’t watched that I really wanted to try. What finally got me to bite, besides word of mouth from people whose tastes I trust, was an abiding love for Spacey’s work, an appreciation for Wright, and the Washington intrigue subject matter and setting didn’t hurt, either. I live in the suburbs, so it’s always fun to see new areas shown on-screen. I mean, I personally complained about covering local city council meetings when I was a student journalist. When Kate Mara’s Zoe Barnes complains about the very same thing? Well, I just can’t get that kind of entertainment anywhere else.
I could also control my viewing experience, between Netflix and House of Cards On Demand on my TV, and check out some quality original Internet programming, which was another huge plus. Showtime’s Homeland was the last show I truly enjoyed, and I watched both seasons in about a week and a half. I loved Netflix’s approach to providing quality, original, streaming programming that I could binge watch or watch episodically, like usual, depending on my mood and time. Kevin Spacey said back in August: “…We wanted to start to tell a story that would take a long time to tell. We were creating a sophisticated, multi-layered story with complex characters who would reveal themselves over time, and relationships that would need space to play out.” Their Emmy wins last year were evidence that that was working.
What finally sucked me in? Web savvy, multi-platform promotion, GIFs included, mixed up with some of the usual still photo and film trailer suspects.
The first trailer for season two came out in December. (Spoilers all over the place in the commentary here, so if you’re new and want to stay unspoiled, stay clear.)
The second traditional one was released yesterday.
Meanwhile, creator Beau Willimon shook it up, posting the first of several of what he’s calling “cinemagraph GIFs” on Reddit last week.
Yo Reddit, I’m Beau Willimon, showrunner for HOUSE OF CARDS. We created a slew of cinemagraph GIFS for Season 2 and I wanted to share this one with you first. Just a taste for now, but LOTS MORE to come, so keep your eyes peeled, your ears to the ground, and your smart-devices at your finger-tips.
Here’s the GIF. I may be considering just putting it on a loop because there’s something about Spacey and that rubber band that’s really meditative for work breaks.
Netflix series are one of my favorite media developments in the past couple of years of episodic television (or computer-vision, pick your medium.) As pioneers in this medium, it’s unsurprising that the House of Cards team would take promotional cues from the Internet.
No, the promo is not the show, like the medium isn’t entirely the message, but it’s fun to watch this whole House of Cards experience unfold, and I’m still calling this show a winner. No matter how you package something, it’s still got to be good, when the ads are over and the real deal starts. The actual viewing experience, in this case — the visuals, the story, and the writing — add up to the “can’t wait until the next episode” quality that only the best shows have.
I really can’t wait to see what Congressman Underwood is up to this season. I’m serious. It looks like it’s really out there, even for him. Chances are I didn’t see it coming, even with GIFs for references, and that’s my favorite kind of show — online, on my TV, or both.
Image credit: YouTube