Netflix’s next original series, “Hemlock Grove,” is set to be released on April 19, and the first review already indicates it's a potential disaster.
According to the official synopsis, “Hemlock Grove” “Revolves around the eccentric residents of a dilapidated former Pennsylvania steel town and the murder of 17-year-old Brooke Bluebell. Through the investigation, the town's seamier side is exposed, revealing that nothing is what it seems.” Marketing campaigns revealed that one mystery of the town involves werewolves.
Netflix has been riding high thanks to the success of their first original series, “House of Cards,” and the upcoming season of “Arrested Development.” With “Hemlock Grove” being the next original series released by the company, the pressure was on to continue Netflix’s hot streak.
“Hemlock Grove” received plenty of hype thanks to the participation of Eli Roth, who served as executive producer and also directed the first episode, as well as for being Netflix’s second original series. The horror series also had the challenge of following “House of Cards,” which set the standard for Netflix’s entry into the world of original programming while “Arrested Development” received the bulk of attention from the media.
While “Hemlock Grove” did not have the pedigree of the two other series, Netflix believed it could be a solid entry into their roster of original content. “House of Cards” was an adaptation of a critically acclaimed British series, it starred Kevin Spacey and its first two episodes were directed by David Fincher (“Fight Club,” "The Social Network"). “Arrested Development” had three critically acclaimed seasons on Fox and a cult following after it was canceled.
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“Hemlock Grove” is an adaptation of Brian McGreevy's novel of the same name and was developed by Gaumont International Television, which also developed NBC’s “Hannibal.” McGreevy served as the show’s executive producer and also wrote five episodes. With all 13 episodes of “Hemlock Grove” to be released on April 19, the first review from The Hollywood Reporter is not encouraging.
In THR’s review, critic Tim Goodman says to Netflix, “Welcome to the content business -- here comes the company’s first truly bad series.” Goodman says Netflix deserves the praise it has received for releasing a whole season at once but that does not apply to the quality of “Hemlock Grove.”
THR’s review cites bad acting and poor writing as the reasons for the show’s failure. Goodman says “Hemlock Grove” is full of poor choices, clichés, “unintentionally campy” moments and the first two episodes were so boring that he couldn’t get to the third episode. Goodman sums it up by saying “Hemlock Grove" “... isn’t scary. It isn’t creepy. It barely makes sense, much less sense you want to decode.” The failure of "Hemlock Grove," according to Goodman, is not an indictment of Netflix as all networks have their share of flops.
Goodman only reviewed the first two episodes, so there could be hope that “Hemlock Grove” improves as the season progresses. During the MipTV conference, Roth previewed footage of the werewolf transformation scene and the Guardian noted that there was plenty of gore to be had. Roth seemed excited about the series and believed it could play well to horror fans.
Fans can judge for themselves as all 13 episodes of “Hemlock Grove” will be released on April 19. A recently released clip of the series can be viewed below.