Hoping to hook potential subscribers on its original series House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey, Netflix said today (Friday) that it is making the first episode free to anyone visiting its website. In a statement, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said. By offering the first episode for free, including to non-members, we are opening up this fascinating world for everyone to see and are confident they'll want more. The first and second episodes are directed by David Fincher, who is also co-producer. All thirteen episodes of the series were made available to Netflix's streaming customers today. It received mixed reviews from critics. Kyle Smith of the Washington Post maintained that it seems to have no idea how Washington politics actually plays out. This series is about as inside-the-Beltway as Fiji, and Fincher's main plan to compensate for the stupidity level is to have the gentlemen whip off their glasses and the ladies whip off their clothes, he writes. On the other hand, David Wiegand commented in the San Francisco Chronicle: In the end, it's easy to overlook some of the credibility gaps because the writing is otherwise so fine, as are the direction and the performances. Although Netflix has made all thirteen episodes of the first season available to its subscribers, Alessandra Stanley in the New York Times advised that it is probably seen best one episode at a time. It's a delicious immorality play with an excellent cast, but the tempo is slow and oddly ponderous -- a romp slowed down to a dirge. Time magazine's James Poniewozik warned his readers that his review is based solely on the first two Fincher-directed episodes. So if you're considering signing up for Netflix solely on the basis of this series and its reviews, caveat subscriber. Poniewozik's conclusion: It's a brassy, confident new drama series. And at The Week magazine, Scott Meslow wrote, I'm crossing my fingers that the remaining 11 episodes of House of Cards find a way to introduce some nuance into what's currently an utterly predictable morality tale.
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