2011 was not exactly a banner year for Netflix. The company suffered the loss of video content from its streaming library, subscriber outrage after a failed attempt to spin its DVD rental business into a separate company called Qwikster, and a mass exodus of customers after a significant price hike. Hoping to turn things around in 2012, the site is now launching its first foray into original programming with three new series. Later this year, we'll see the premiere of Kevin Spacey and David Fincher's drama House of Cards, and the revival of Arrested Development. But first comes Lilyhammer, a crime comedy set in Norway's former Winter Olympics headquarters, starring The Soprano's Steven Van Zandt. A trailer for the show was released Tuesday (watch it below), and on Feb. 6, Netflix will post all eight of the series' first-season episodes online. Will Netflix's gamble pay off?
Lilyhammer shows promise: This is a make-or-break venture for Netflix, says Rachel King at ZD Net. The company desperately needs "a few hit projects in 2012," and it will have to rely on its own original programming for that success, particularly if it "loses any more studio partnerships." Lilyhammer has the potential to be a unique concoction: "In Plain Sight meets Hart of Dixie meets Northern Exposure." That's so crazy it just might work.
"Netflix original series Lilyhammer on the way next month"
And Netflix's programming initiative could change the industry: If successful, Lilyhammer and Netflix's other shows could transform "the idea of online TV itself," says E.D. Kain at Forbes. Netflix has a vast potential audience, and if the Arrested Development venture is successful, it could inspire the company to "revive some other shows lost to the whims of television executives." Joss Whedon's canceled Firefly, for example, already has a cult following. "It wouldn't be much of a leap to turn that following into loyal Netflix customers."
"Could the new Netflix exclusive Lilyhammer give new life to online television?"
Actually, it's not looking good: Netflix has incredibly exciting original content in the pipeline, says Willa Paskin at New York. Anticipation for new episodes of Arrested Development is immeasurable, while the bidding war for the highbrow House of Cards only hints at the project's potential. It's unfortunate, then, that the sure-to-be-scrutinized Lilyhammer is kicking things off. Gauging from this preview, Van Zandt's braggadocio as the wise guy mob boss is "not entirely convincing," and the whole thing looks, laughably, like "The Sopranos in wool Christmas sweaters."
"The Sopranos on Ice; or Lilyhammer, Netflix's first foray into original programming"