Viau’s View/Scott Viau

Netflix has been on a roll lately and is quickly proving itself to be something of a powerhouse when it comes to original content. “House of Cards,” “Arrested Development” and now the new series “Orange is the New Black” have all received critical acclaim and with reason. They’re all compelling shows with interesting characters and great plots.

“Orange” focuses on Piper Chapman, who carried a suitcase full of drug money several years ago for her then lesbian lover and is now paying the price for it: 15 months in a women’s federal prison. Chapman leaves behind a doting fiancee and a life relatively full of leisure. Chapman’s stay in prison will test her both emotionally and physically, but will also open her eyes to the challenges faced by the other inmates.

“Orange is the New Black” comes from “Weeds” creator Jenji Kohan and is based on the memoir of the same name by Piper Kerman. Kohan again shows off her strong writing skills with this new series. The characters are well developed and not merely caricatures of women in prison. They have problems, strengths, joys and heartaches like anyone else. While Piper is undoubtedly the main character of “Orange,” each episode also delves into the past of the other inmates, giving us a feel for what kind of people they were – either good or bad. “Orange” actually reminds me of “Lost” with its use of flashbacks to show the women’s life outside of prison. I’m hoping when the series begins to wind down they do flash forwards to show what their life is like after prison. Let’s just hope “Orange” concludes before it wears out its welcome, which was a hole that “Weeds” fell into.

Piper is played by relative newcomer Taylor Schilling, who really knocked it out of the park performance wise. She’s able to convey the fear of being in a terrifying new place all while adding a sense of comedy to it at the same time. The same can be said for nearly all of the performances, with the possible exception of Laura Prepon, who is good, but just doesn’t seem to have the acting chops to appear legitimately sad or teary eyed. It was also a pleasant surprise to see Constance Shulman. Never heard of her? You’ve probably heard her voice in Nickelodeon’s mid-90s show “Doug” as the voice of Patti Mayonnaise. At least if you’re around my age you have.

And like with all other Netflix series, viewers can sit and watch all 13 episodes of the first season in one sitting. The only problem with that is when the show is over, you’ll more than likely be sad at the idea of having to wait another year for more episodes. Fortunately, we are able to watch the episodes over and over again until the new season begins. Luckily, “Orange” is good enough to warrant multiple viewings. Caution:?Once you start watching, you won’t be able to stop.