Cable providers face new competition in original programming from some of online's biggest services.

By JP Mangalindan
September 10, 2012

For online services like Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube, the future isn’t just about streaming second-run Hollywood movies, TV shows, or viral videos anymore — it’s about original programming. Who has the biggest content library may not be as important as who has the most compelling, and content that users can’t find anywhere else could go a long way to putting a service on top. From a revived cult hit to a new show with a familiar face, here’s a look at several of the shows angling for your viewership.


Your Place Is a Deal Breaker

The show: Two-to-four-minute mini-episodes chronicle interventions with co-habitating couples who clash over differences in home decor. In one segment, a couple tries to reconcile one’s love for Japanese design with the other’s fetish for tiger memorabilia. In another, a woman takes issue with her boyfriend’s Barack Obama poster hanging in the bedroom. “Obama has to go, baby,” she says.

The cast and crew: Celebrity designer Vanessa Deleon and a rotating cast of couples.

The status: Twenty-six episodes so far and still going.

What they’re — or well, we’re — saying: It hasn’t caught the attention of many mainstream critics yet, but Your Place Is a Deal Breaker‘s snappy, light pace and knack for finding colorful characters makes it every bit as entertaining as longer, bigger budget makeover show on TLC.


Arrested Development

The show: Filmed with handheld cameras documentary-style, the six-time Emmy award-winning cult hit trails the antics of Michael Bluth and his comically dysfunctional family after his father is imprisoned for fraud.

The cast and crew: Jason Bateman as Michael Bluth, Michael Cera as his quirky son in a role that catapulted him to stardom, and Portia de Rossi portraying Michael’s shallow sister Lindsay.

The status: Ran for three seasons on Fox before getting canned. Rumors of a movie circulated for years before it was announced Netflix would exclusively air 10 new episodes next spring. Co-star David Cross told Rolling Stone that the episode order might be bumped to 13.

What they’re saying: “The writing reminds me of (and this is a high, if random, compliment) Police Squad!, that short-lived TV precursor to the Naked Gun movies, which was packed with raunchy, goofy wordplay. … Smart, unruly, and very fast, Arrested is the ultimate TV series for our TiVo age.” — Gillian Flynn, Entertainment Weekly


Lilyhammer

The show: New York Mafioso Frank “The Fixer” Tagliano joins the witness protection program after testifying at a trial and finds himself relocated to Lillehammer, Norway. Despite the chance to start anew, he quickly takes up his old, underhanded ways, using blackmail and violence to orchestrate deals and get ahead.

The cast and crew: The Sopranos‘ Steven Van Zandt as Tagliano; Trond Fausa Aurvag as Tagliano’s business partner, and Marian Saastad Otteson as Tagliano’s girlfriend.

The status: Season One premiered last February. Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer, has confirmed the show will return.

What they’re saying: “Bumbling about in thick clothes, listening to tapes that teach him the Norwegian for “Sorry, we are out of bread” and “I have no mittens,” Van Zandt — who reliably lightened the tone at The Sopranos — turns in a charming, semi-sweet performance as a person not quite starting fresh.” — Robert Lloyd, The Los Angeles Times


Battleground

The show: The first of Hulu’s original shows to premiere, Battleground follows the day-to-day grind of a Democratic senatorial candidate’s campaign in Madison, Wisc. Manager Chris “Tak” Davis and his young team handle scandals, ward off corrupt competitors, and in the process, learn just how dirty a political campaign can get.

The cast and crew: Created by Two and a Half Men‘s J.D. Walsh and starring Jay Hayden as “Tak,” Teri Reeves as his right-hand Kara “KJ” Jamison, and Jack De Sena as Cole Graner.

The status: Season One premiered last February. Although it hasn’t officially been announced, Walsh has said chances are good “Tak” and his team will get another shot (and another campaign).

What they’re saying: “In between bouts of forced dialog and buffoonery is a plot that, two episodes in, keeps you hooked enough that you may well become a regular.” — Brian Barrett, Gizmodo


Rev

The show: The award-winning British series follows Rev. Adam Smallbone, an Anglican vicar placed in charge of a dusty London parish, who finds humor in the everyday duties of his calling. Along the way, he reveals some little-known tidbits about the profession, like how vicars prefer funerals over weddings.

The cast and crew: Show co-creator and British thespian Tom Hollander as Rev. Smallbone, with Olivia Colman as his wife.

The status: The show was recently picked up for another season.

What they’re saying: “What I’d recommend for those of you who are curious is to let a few episodes build up, then watch them all at once (Hulu is great for this). Once you’ve done that, the show’s rhythms and quiet themes will start to hum to life, and the humor will pop a little bit more, too.” — Todd VanDerWerff, The A.V. Club

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