“Hemlock Grove” is an oddly captivating series, less for its content – it lacks the blatant sexuality of “American Horror Story” as well as its hit-or-miss shock value – than the fact that Netflix is releasing it the same fashion as they did in the case of “House of Cards,” which is the entire series at once as opposed to a more traditional model.
This is a powerful new way of making television that I think other non-broadcast and cable networks will mimic because it almost guarantees viewership of the series, either over a period of days, or in one shot (I am a huge fan of marathon viewing) though I have no idea how they determine if the content is being watched.
Which is very important if you want to know if you’re going to create another series.
What’s also interesting is that it would be a godsend for a series that needs time to build an audience. For instance, I genuinely didn’t care for the first episode. Roman Godfrey (Bill Skarsgård, who looks like a young Steve Buscemi from some angles) seems to be under the impression that a pout is what passes for acting.
This tendency would be less irritating if he didn’t look like an escapee from “Zoolander.”
“Hemlock Grove” is essentially a soap opera, which is an ideal format if you’re dealing with secrets, in the vein of “Dark Shadows” (the original series, not the Tim Burton movie) that involves science run amok, werewolves and gypsies, though murder of a young woman is the catalyst that starts events rolling.
And, like dredging the bottom of a lake, secrets are stirred up that were probably better left hidden.
I am about seven episodes in (despite Eli Roth’s name being bandied about, it appears that he directed only the first episode, and executive produced the rest. The bulk were directed by Deran Safarian) and am not sure where events are heading, which is good if that’s by design, and bad if it’s a sign of mediocre writing.
An odd tendency I have noticed is that most shots of two people holding a conversation while driving are blue screened, yet there have been three or four helicopter shots in the six episodes (so far) that I have seen. If I were an executive producer I would have more shots of people actually driving, and less copter shots. I have no idea who made the creative decision to do things that way, but they need to be flogged.
Penny wise, pound foolish, as my mother used to say.