In either case, "Cards" represents a brash response to the burgeoning new fad of linking TV viewership with social media in a shared "second-screen" experience, which largely depends on watching TV the old-fashioned way: in synch with everybody else when the network dictates.
One more thing: "House of Cards" poses a new challenge to the media critic.
I have regularly felt awkwardness at critiquing the premiere of a TV series without knowing what might lie ahead in future episodes. It's like reviewing the early chapters of a novel I haven't finishing reading and that maybe isn't even written yet.
"House of Cards," with 13 episodes available to me and every subscriber to the Netflix library (another 13 hours are completed but still under wraps), settles that issue. Now I know where the season is going and how well it gets there, and so can you, whenever you choose.
But what do I, as a spoiler-averse critic, feel comfortable disclosing, and when, with every viewer watching "Cards" at their own pace?
I can say this: The first episode doesn't capture the power of the series, nor has Spacey yet hit his stride. But stick around and you'll be treated to remarkable performances, a wickedly twisted plot, and unforgettable moments like what I'll call the bathtub scene in episode 5, one of the greatest moments in film I can recall.
And until the final fadeout of episode 13, "House of Cards" keeps the pressure on. It's a driving force. Not unlike Francis Underwood.
With Netflix my enabler, I was helpless to resist.
Frazier Moore is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. He can be reached at fmoore(at)ap.org and at http://www.twitter.com/tvfrazier
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