'Orange is the New Black,' 'Derek' promise big things for Netflix

Final scene from season one of Orange is the New Black. (Courtesy Netflix)

Final scene from season one of Orange is the New Black. (Courtesy Netflix)

Sean Fitzgerald, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:31 PM ET

So that’s what the sun looks like. Somehow, June has finally arrived, bringing us a warm reward for dealing with one of the toughest Canadian winters in recent memory.

But I’m not here to discuss the amazing weather, folks, so tuck away those frisbees, sunglasses and picnic baskets for the moment, because it’s time to talk about one of my favourite indoor activities – Netflix.

This is a huge moment for Netflix Originals, as the second seasons for Derek, Orange is the New Black and Hemlock Grove are all hitting the streaming service around the same time.

And if the solid sophomore season of House of Cards is anything to go by – that show keeps getting better and better – then we should be expecting some great things.

It’s fascinating to watch these programs grow into multiple-season properties.

Can a streaming series last as long as a hit on traditional television? We’ll have to see. And before Netflix rolls out its Phase 2 of its original content – which includes the Wachowskis’ Sense8 and the untitled family drama from the creators of Damages – we’ve got these next few months to see how these sophomore seasons do.

Let’s take a look at some of the returning shows.

DEREK: Ricky Gervais’ optimistic mockumentary series about a British nursing home just returned on Netflix last week. The new season contains some interesting storylines, such as Hannah trying to have a baby, Derek’s once-estranged father moving into the Broad Hill care home and the continuing antics of the janitor with the best haircut on television – Dougie, played by Karl Pilkington. While Gervais has said that the project is his “favourite thing” of anything he’s done, reviews for the second season have been fairly negative. Perhaps the show’s sweetness overload – even the new season’s trailer is filled with Derek saying sentimental lines like, “That’s the amazing thing about life, you can just start again” – has given viewers one toothache too many.

ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: Clear your weekend plans! This Friday, June 6, Netflix brings us back to Litchfield Penitentiary for 13 more episodes. Orange is the New Black scored huge numbers when Season 1 arrived last summer, performing better than House of Cards or Arrested Development despite the lack of big-name actors (please send my apologies to members of the Jason Biggs fan club). The show’s black humour and raw storylines seemed to win over pretty much everyone, and lead star Taylor Schilling’s performance earned her a Golden Globe nomination. Netflix even recently confirmed a third season. Can Season 2 maintain the momentum?

HEMLOCK GROVE: Eli Roth’s supernatural thriller comes back for a second round on July 11, when the residents of this Pennsylvania town are forced to deal with the aftermath of last season’s bloody finale. While this series didn’t earn the same accolades as House of Cards or Orange is the New Black, it seemed to find its target audience, picking up decent numbers and earning two Emmy nominations. If you’re a fan, you’ve probably already seen the creepy new teasers on Vine, with Bill Skarsgard’s menacing teeth making a prominent appearance. The second season contains 10 parts, and if you combine that with the shows I’ve mentioned above, it means you’ve got 29 new episodes to take in. That’s a lot of stuff to watch, so make sure you don’t waste your summer doing something healthy like throwing the frisbee around in the sunshine. That would just be a shame.

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