LOS ANGELES - Streaming video giant Netflix is hoping for another hit with its latest original show, family feud drama "Bloodline," lavished with praise even before its release this week.
TV critics have already given the thumbs-up to the latest series by the pioneering service behind "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black," due out Friday.
The Netflix format - you can watch all 13 episodes in one go, or as quickly or slowly as you want - suits the show perfectly, said its co-creator Daniel Zelman, who co-produced legal thriller "Damages."
"It's like one of those summer beach read books... Every episode is a chapter, and you get to the end of the chapter and the next chapter is right there," he said.
"It creates a certain freedom in the storytelling, to not have to hold an audience for a week," he added, referring to traditional cable or network TV series broadcast one episode per week.
Set in the Florida Keys, the show tells the story of an inn-owning family grappling with the skeletons in its cupboards after the return of the black sheep son to a supposedly festive family reunion.
Family patriarch Robert Rayburn (played by veteran Sam Shepard) and his wife Sally (Sissy Spacek) welcome back their children led by John (Kyle Chandler), a detective who plays a narrating role in the unfolding drama.
Two other children live nearby - lawyer Meg (Linda Cardellini) and boatyard owner Kevin (Norbert Leo Butz).
But the family's real demons focus on Danny (Ben Mendelsohn) who left home years ago, and whose "return ignites a slow-burning fuse among the clan that leads to a violent explosion," the programme makers note.
Battle of streaming services
Netflix has set the pace in producing original programming over the last few years, starting with the award-winning political thriller "House of Cards" in a move which has overturned the traditional TV landscape.
But rivals led by online retail giant Amazon are rapidly making up ground: Amazon scored its first ever Golden Globe in January for best comedy series "Transparent." Netflix is all too aware that it has a reputation to live up to - and pre-release reviews of the show suggest "Bloodline" will help cement its image as premium content creator.
"With its first forays into original television content... Netflix came out swinging as an aggressive challenger to cable and network domination," wrote the Hollywood Reporter, in its review of the new show.
"Chalk up another forceful punch with Bloodline, a riveting, superbly cast slow-burn family drama set between the oceanfront paradise and the murky mangrove swamps of the Florida Keys," it wrote.
Fellow industry journal Variety called it "a very good, extremely well-cast" drama, adding: "Even without flashy bells and whistles, this sort of serialized drama would still seem to be ideally suited to its distribution approach."
That distribution approach is increasingly beloved of actors and programme-makers, as it takes over from theatrical movies as the premier format for long-form drama.
Emmy winner Chandler, whose credits include Osama bin Laden raid thriller "Zero Dark Thirty" and hit TV show "Friday Night Lights," said the ability to watch the hour-long episodes back-to-back is key.
"The way I look at it, it's a 13-hour movie," he said, adding that the creators "are very smart with what they're doing, and I was more than willing to jump off the diving board that they presented me."
Of the family demons at the heart of the tale, he added "I think the problem with the Rayburn family is that someone decides to tell the truth.