9 Netflix original series to watch in 2014
Shows from Vince Gilligan, Marvel and the Wachowskis are on the way
A whole host of new series and original programmes including House of Cards season 2, Better Call Saul and Sense8 are coming to Netflix soon, meaning you’ll no longer be plundering Emotional Sports Films featuring a Talking Dog set in 1970s Russia categories in a bid to find something to watch.
Netflix compounded its rise from a mere mail order DVD service to a paradigm-shifting distribution company last year with a raft of commissions that broke the rules for how television is both made and consumed.
The grand yet gritty House of Cards kicked things off in February and was swiftly followed up with more new offerings including an ambitious resurrection of sitcom Arrested Development and the breath of fresh air that was women’s prison drama Orange Is The New Black.
In addition to new instalments of already established shows there are plenty of exciting new series on the way, including a Breaking Bad spin-off, Andy and Lana Wachowski’s first foray into television and a cartoon about a whiskey-drinking horse. Here’s what's streaming in 2014…
House of Cards (season 2)
Ordering two seasons right off the bat, Netflix clearly had huge confidence in this murky political thriller and with good reason, its first outing having all the intrigue of The West Wing but mercifully none of the Stars and Stripes flags slowly unfurling to the patriotic swells of a brass section.
Season 2 will see Kevin Spacey's wily congressman Frank Underwood finally get 'one heartbeat away from the presidency' but face attacks from all sides. The POTUS isn't happy about Frank's back-alley politics, former paramour Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara) is closing in on the truth (about Russo perhaps?) and his hollow marriage with Claire is being pecked at by the mass media. Expect icy one liners and plenty of rib sauce.
Orange Is The New Black (season 2)
Orange Is The New Black has proved a huge hit for Netflix
Jenji Kohan's Weeds was excellent albeit somewhat overlooked on Showtime, but her next series got the fanfare it deserved on an on-demand platform, telling the story of a white-collar criminal dropped wide-eyed and Mad Men boxset-less into a tough women's prison.
A dark comedy that seemed pitched towards the latter in the pilot, it transformed into a surprisingly macabre insight into how we selfishly cling to love in times of need, bolstered by some moving sub-plots involving the other prisoners.
Better Call Saul
Bob Odenkirk will reprise his role as Saul Goodman in Better Call Saul
OK, so we're not likely to get this AMC show (to be shown exclusively on Netflix in the UK ) until 2015, but such was the hysteria surrounding Breaking Bad that the show's spin-off centring on Walter White's crooked lawyer Saul Goodman will be very much on fans' radars from now until TX.
The show isn't without a sense of trepidation. It may struggle to reproduce the high drama of Breaking Bad with a protagonist creator Vince Gilligan has admitted is 'intrinsically undramatic', and as hilarious a character as he is it remains to be seen whether Saul can carry a comedy on his own, but it will be exciting to lose yourself in the dusty palette of Albuquerque once more.
Speaking of Breaking Bad, how about a cartoon voiced by Aaron Paul aka Jesse Pinkman that follows a whiskey-drinking horse with a bad case of ennui? Thought so.
BoJack originates from a 90s sitcom nobody remembers called Horsin' Around, but Netflix will be hoping to find a new audience with this 12-episode series. Arrested Development's Will Arnett will play the equine degenerate with Paul voicing his human sidekick.
Your answer if you've run out of Archer.
The Killing (season 4)
The Killing refused to be killed last year, saved from the chop for a final season exclusive to Netflix.
It's hard to get excited about these US remakes of Scandinavian crime thrillers, which are often akin to brass rubbings - the shape is there but none of the detail - especially when they're given a limited final season in order to expedite the mopping up of plot lines.
For ardent fans these six episodes should at least provide some closure however.
Directors Andy Wachowski (L) and Lana Wachowski
The always mind-bending output of Andy and Lana Wachowski will be funnelled into the small screen for the first time with this sci-fi series, which like the siblings' recent film Cloud Atlas will focus on a series of seperate and yet interweaving stories - here, eight people scattered around the globe who are connected by a shared, violent vision.
According to TV Line, they include a closeted Mexican telenovela hunk, an Icelandic party girl, a German safe-cracker, a Korean businesswoman, an African bus driver and a transgender American blogger.
No word on a cast yet, but Babylon 5 creator J. Michael Straczynski is on board to help write and direct, with 10 episodes expected late 2014.
Some sort of psychological drama about a family who hate each other
Damages creators Todd A. Kessler, Daniel Zelman and Glenn Kessler apparently left Netflix chiefs 'spellbound' when they pitched this as yet untitled 'suspenseful family drama'.
It will centre on a family whose secrets and scars are revealed when their black sheep brother returns home, which all sounds a bit Brothers & Sisters, only this is Netflix so there will probably be some sex and fratricide in there somewhere.
Notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar has seen several film biopics but comparatively few portrayals on television.
This is set to change with Narcos, which will chronicle his life and death in a collaboration with Gaumont International Television. Details are scant, but RoboCop director Jose Padilha is thought to be on board to direct.
Hemlock Grove (season 2)
While many of the Netflix originals thus far have been just that, original, this series relied on a more bankable and well-heeled premise: sexy werewolves.
The warning of 'mild fornication, fellatio, heavy cocaine use, lesbian necrophilia and violent hemorrhaging' in the first season's trailer was indicative of the show's lust for flesh and general ridiculousness, but fans of True Blood, The Walking Dead etc might find reason to return for this second batch.
Fortunately for the easily bored modern viewer, this nine-chapter series will not focus on the famous explorer's influence on European cartography but his encounters with 'astonishing martial arts, sexual intrigue, political skullduggery and spectacular battles'. Hurray!
Billed as a gripping action-adventure, it is set to shoot in Malaysia soon and debut on Netflix in late 2014.
Multiple Marvel projects
The human race has surely had a surfeit of comic book superhero TV shows and movies in recent years, but they show no signs of slowing down.
As DC gears up for a team-up movie by binding Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman together in its next film, so Marvel sets about raising the profiles of Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Jessica Jones. Each will get their own series, before joining forces for a climactic The Defenders mini-series.
It's a smart idea, allowing viewers to get to know each character individually then paying all their stories off in a comic book orgy of a show, but as ever will depend on how deftly each character is handled.
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