A look at the new upcoming Netflix original programs


Watching TV shows on Netflix is all the rage. If you’re a fan of movies or television, it’s very likely you already own a subscription to Netflix, and subsequently view movies or shows on one of Netflix’s variety of streaming app.

Well, if you don’t, you certainly know people that do.

The beauty of Netflix’s streaming capabilities is that for fans of anything — TV dramas; independent film; professional wrestling; seriously, anything — a litany of programming choices is right at their finger tips without ever having to leave home. Of course, this has led to people often watching copious amounts of their favorite programming and going on weekend binges to get caught up on Netflix favorites such as Breaking Bad and How I Met Your Mother.

Netflix obviously sees that in these lean economic times there’s a portion of America that loves spending their weekends throwing on sweatpants and watching Walter White cook meth instead of spending money at the club, so it was only natural for Netflix to seek their own original programming.

The mainstream public will naturally associate Netflix original programming with the reboot of Arrested Development or the recently released, Kevin Spacey starring House of Cards, but Netflix began their original programming with a show called Lilyhammer.

Lilyhammer stars former Sopranos star and Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band guitarist Steven Van Zandt, but I honestly don’t know anyone that has watched it. Maybe it’s because people weren’t aware of it, or weren’t interested in a show set primarily in Norway starring a rock guitarist turned actor, but either way, Lilyhammer has barely registered a blip on the radar of any avid television watcher I know. Even the Wikipedia page is rather barren compared to the pages of other TV shows.

Netflix remedied this problem by bringing in big names and big budgets. I already mentioned Arrested Development and House of Cards, but that isn’t the end of the Netflix original programming queue.

In fact, it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Recently, CAA TV literary agent Peter Micelli addressed how much Netflix is spending (by his estimates) on its original programming at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium. The dollar numbers were large and the future of Netflix original programming appears bright. From the article in Variety:

“The cheapest show is $3.8 million an episode,” Micelli told a crowd of more than 500 lawyers in the entertainment business. “‘House of Cards’ started at $4.5 million and (executive producer David) Fincher took it way above that.”

Micelli ventured further into the Netflix programming pipeline, referencing dollar figures for the upcoming Eli Roth horror series “Hemlock Grove” and the Jenji Kohan comedic drama “Orange is the New Black.”

“The next series is ‘Hemlock Grove’ and they’re doing that for about $4 million an episode,” he said. “‘ ‘Orange is the New Black’ is just under $4 million as well. They’re huge budgets shows, they’re doing things in a huge way.”

Micelli later clarified for Variety that these numbers were only his estimates, as he is not privy to the final studio or network budgets or spends.

Micelli also noted during the panel that Netflix was spending even more than broadcast networks were doling out for hourlong series, which rarely exceeds $4 million per episode. He provided insight on the deals, which are structured to cover multiple regions around the world.

“They’ll pay a large percentage of the budget for it,” he divulged. “They control it for four years exclusively and then you can turn around to re-sell to a linear cable channel.”

The Variety article then details the rest of the growing industry of producing television shows that originally air on non-traditional television channels, but we’ll worry about the original programming futures for XBox and Amazon at another time.

For now, let’s focus on what we do know: Netflix’s three new, original shows in the pipeline for 2013. I didn’t include the new season of Arrested Development since it’s been written about everywhere, and isn’t an original programming startup for Netflix.

Bad Situations

While Peter Micelli name-dropped Hemlock Grove and Orange Is the New Black during his price guestimating talk at the UCLA Entertainment Symposium, he never mentioned Bad Situations. Not much is really known about Bad Situations, which is shocking considering it begins airing at the end of this month. Walt Becker, director of Van Wilder, Wild Hogs and Old Dogs serves as a producer and the show, based on the trailer above, features David Faustino, Julianna Gill, and a brief appearances from Andy Dick.

The show appears to center around a couple that was on the verge of a breakup before accidently starting a forest fire and being forced into 2,000 hours of community service to avoid jail time. Their subsequent adventures while doing the community service and the people doing the community service with them, appears to be the backbone of the show. Time will tell if this is any good, but it’s a troubling sign if little to no information is appearing right now for a show that debuts on March 31st.

Hemlock Grove

With an operating budget reportedly nearing $45 million and the backing of horror savant Eli Roth, who is producing and directing, there’s a lot more buzz for Hemlock Grove than there is for Bad Samaritans. Based on Brian McGreevy’s (who is producing) debut horror novel released in 2012 of the same name, Hemlock Grove centers around the brutal murder of a young girl near the Godfrey steel mill as two of the suspects in her killing –a 17-year-old kid rumored to be a werewolf, and the heir to the Godfrey estate — take up a cause to find the killer themselves. With the backing of a name like Eli Roth, I’m sure horror fans like my brother and Poor Scholars staffer Troy Phillips will be interested in this series from the moment it’s set to debut on April 19th.

Orange Is the New Black

There is no trailer or release date for Orange Is the New Black, the Jenji Kohan produced comedy-drama based on Piper Kerman’s memoir Orange Is The New Black: My Year In a Women’s Prison, but it began production last fall and has a cast featuring Taylor Schilling, Jason Biggs and Kate Mulgrew.

If you’re at all familiar with Kohan’s last project, Weeds, then you might be able to guess the overall tone of Orange Is the New Black, but without a trailer or many plot points besides the show being about a women’s prison, it’s hard to tell much of anything.


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