on February 16, 2013
"West Wing" gave viewers a taste of a White House populated by government folk who fought the good fight and had its citizenry foremost in their concerns. No such luck here. In this outing, the people of the United States barely exist in the minds of government. They are fodder for those seeking to gain, or seeking to stay in, power.
Here's the scoop. Kevin Spacey plays congressman Frank Underwood, a very bright, savvy individual who knows his way around Capitol Hill. He knows how to get things done because he knows what's in people's souls and how to play them to his advantage. His wife, Claire (Robin Wright) heads up a a more socially conscious organization in the private sector but is no less addicted to power than her husband. They have a peculiar relationship to say the least. This is almost a diary of the various 'projects' in which they are involved and how they play them, even when unforeseen things happen.
This is some ugly, scary stuff. In my heart of hearts I don't want to believe this view of our government, but I fear it is probably a closer take on reality than is "The West Wing." The manipulation of people, the press and other politicians will make you puke in your shorts. The relationship between Frank and Claire alone can only make me wonder what world they must have lived in as children that allowed them to grow up in a way that would make them think behavior like this was Okay.
David Fincher (one of my favorite directors) helmed the first 2 episodes and well establishes the color and tone for the rest of the series. There is a greenish pallor to it which gives it a sickly feel. All the acting is top shelf and a fleet of veterans are on hand to insure that. The directing is good. The writing is exceptional. This is as good as any series I've seen on TV. My hat is off to Netflix in that they didn't feed it to their audience one episode at a time. They released the entire series in one fell swoop allowing their viewers to watch it when they please.
This is a remarkable effort and I hope the ratings are such that Netflix keeps it going.
on February 15, 2013
Kevin Spacey shines as congressman Francis Underwood. A modern day Machiavelli. There is no good and evil in the world of politics, only power. Netflix hit a homerun with this series. An outstanding cast, script, and direction. David Fincher's brilliance shines through in this look at the interworkings of U.S. politics. With some dark twists and turns and a nuanced look at people's ambitions and fears, House of Cards stands stronger than its title'd metaphor. Robin Wright as Claire Underwood is excellent and at times more cunning than her husband. Kate Mara shows great promise as an up and coming reporter looking for a fresh scoop. The rest of the cast is also very strong. Not a weak character or element to the show. My wife and I devoured the entire season in less than a week. Highly recomend.
Don't start watching this series unless you have a free weekend, because you may want to have a marathon viewing. This is one of the most addictive series I have viewed.
The premise is great: Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is promised the Secretary of State position in thanks for helping to get a new president elected. Once elected, the new president conveniently changes his mind and doesn't even bother to meet with Underwood to tell him. He lets his chief of staff notify Underwood he has been passed over, and asks for his continued support of the president in the Congress as Majority Whip. Underwood promises his support, but lets us, the audience, know differently.
Now the fun begins. The joy of this series is seeing how Underwood continually outwits and outmaneuvers other politicians who seem just as integrity-challenged as him, but less bright. And because Underwood has been skewered by the Prez and his team, you really don't mind when Underwood acts in a Machiavellian manner to get the better of them.
Kevin Spacey is mesmeric as Frank Underwood. The casting is superb. The dialogue is intelligent and inspired. You can't wait to see what schemes Underwood has concocted each episode and how they are going to play out. If this series is fairly true to life, no wonder our government is in the mess it is in right now.
Hope Netflix continues to create original, quality drama such as this show. HOUSE OF CARDS is only going to increase in popularity as more people watch it. Looking forward to season 2 of this series.
on March 3, 2013
This is one of the best shows I have seen in recent times. The acting is Academy Award caliber. Kevin Spacey's performance is outstanding. He delivers the best performance I have ever seen in a series made for TV (or Nextflix, in this particular case). Others have gone into some detail on what the show is about so I won't repeat the same in my short review here. I highly recommend this show and I am sure you will be blown away by it. Make sure you have some free time as the watching experience gets addictive. You will probably want to finish seeing the whole season in one shot. It starts out a bit slow but it gets better very fast. I think Netflix really hit the nail right on the head with this great show. I highly recommend it.
on February 9, 2013
The show premiered all at once and awed me enough to get me to watch the entire season with very little breaks between episodes. I highly recommend this and will purchase it on Blu-ray, despite being able to watch it on Netflix. The cast is fantastic, with Kevin Spacey nailing his role as the smart and evil Francis Underwood, the series is also well written and has enough twists to shock you.
on February 12, 2013
The Netflix original series "House of Cards" features some extraordinary performances from well-established actors, as well as a well-written script and smooth and competent direction. The real star of the series though is raw naked ambition, and how it infests and steers the lives and thoughts of the three main characters: husband-and-wife and partners-for-power Congressman Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey) and environmental NGO head Claire (Robin Wright), and cub political reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). In their own pursuit of power and glory, the lives of these three individuals inevitably become entangled, snaring those who unfortunate enough to be in their way or silly enough to want to be in their way.
Of all the characters, Congressman Francis Underwood has turned the pursuit of power into his own personal religion. The series starts off with a newly elected president denying Underwood the position of Secretary of State, which motivates Underwood to dream and scheme for a higher position. Throughout the first season's 13 episodes he relentlessly pursues his ambition.
That is not true of his wife though. Claire is supposed to be his husband's true and faithful partner, and in one revealing scene she confronts a man who has always hated Francis Underwood for corrupting her. Claire then explains that she chose Francis because he could see her for her true nature, but the explanation is so violent that we as viewers must think she only says this to mask to herself her grave doubts about the grave she and her husband are digging for themselves. Indeed, throughout the series, while Francis is energized (buying a rowing machine and eating salads for lunch, as a consequence) by the political intrigue that he has unleashed, Claire becomes burdened by a weary festering but ultimately fettered conscience.
"House of Cards" is a political thriller with a not particularly interesting plot. What redeems it is its attention to detail, to nuance, and to subtlety, and the decision of the directors and producers to portray political power as honestly as mass television would permit. It seems that everyone is tainted and corrupted by power so that redemption is never a possibility in "House of Cards." The series also makes we viewers the personal confidante of Francis Underwood so that now and then he turns to us, winks at us, and tells us how the game is really played in Washington. In this way, we're tainted and corrupted as well.
"House of Cards" is supposedly based on the British novel and the BBC mini-series, but I suspect that the series' real inspiration and source material is Robert Caro's biography of Lyndon Baines Johnson's path to power. Like Johnson, Underwood is a Southerner with a gift for gab, for telling stories, for understanding the minute mechanisms of Congress, for reading people, and ultimately for corrupting people.
A lot of viewers will think "House of Cards" too cynical, but I think it's too naive. In real world politics, every politician has the ambition and amorality of Francis Underwood, but in real world politics no politician has his cunning and strategy. Evil may be banal, but it's also stupid, crass, and lazy.
"House of Cards" doesn't rise to the same genius as "The Wire," but in many ways "House of Cards" is far more entertaining and relevant.
on November 29, 2013
House of Cards is like The West Wing except that characters in House of Cards lack any and all forms of morality. This series is based on the British series of the same name which is in turn based on Shakespeare's Richard III. The story follows Frank Underwood, House Majority Whip, and his quest for power. He is supported by his wife who is just as power hungry as he is. Together they make backroom deals, manipulate the innocent and guilty, and kill people to achieve the end that they want.
The show starts of quickly but quickly gets mired in minutia and starts to drag through the second half of the season.The show is easy to binge watch the first couple of episodes, but as the show moves later into the season and it slows down it becomes harder to watch.
The blu-ray set contains no additional content. There are no special features, making of..., or cast interviews. This limits the market for the blu-ray set to the people who are huge fans of the show. So, unless you don't subscribe to Netflix or you're a huge fan of the show there is no reason to buy the set over just watching it on Netflix.
on September 23, 2013
House of Cards is such a well written, well directed, and well acted series showing the double dealing, back stabbing, power hungry, manipulators,con men and women, and political narcissists, that is mirrored after our federal government. So well acted by Kevin Spacey that you begin to believe he really is the person he's playing. This series shows Washington at its worst,the underbelly of what we rarely see. This first season shows Spacey playing the majority whip in the House of Representatives,and his wife as a so-called leader of a charitable organization both screwing literally and figuratively to get what they want. That's not all they are capable of, doing, as you'll see, in this spellbinding tale as season one unfolds. Frank Underwood[Kevin Spacey] is almost likeable at times and as smart as they come. The supporting cast is very good Robin Wright is outstanding as his tall, beautiful, proud and cunning wife. Her character should,but doesn't come off as a person to despise,she has her vulnerable side, which can be very deceiving. This series is not a story necessarily of all politicians being bad or corrupt,but it does show a side that probably does exist.Again,a masterful performance by Kevin Spacey, this is not just your run of the mill program of power hungry politicians but much more and in much more detail. Highly recommend it.
on February 25, 2013
Emily over at BluntReview (dot) com says: House of Cards is one of the scariest dramas this viewer has ever seen - and that includes both seasons of American Horror Story. The reason HoC's is so intense? Simple: it plays so terribly true.
Politics are known to be a tad nasty. But, you aint seen nothun' yet.
Story goes...Your about to get a peek behind that curtain. But know now this is an adult geared drama fine tuned into a heady work of fiction so real, you want to see the consulting credits.
Through one particularly creepy Senator, Francis Underwood (Kevin Spacey), we watch as people we voted in to office finagle Bills, puppet people like modern day Geppettos, and ambitious career climbers' find themselves sunk deeply into the left pocket of some game they're playing; for no other reason than a favor is needed by an opposing member...or for an agenda planned well down-the-road.
In the role of loving wife you are served one Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). She is a smart, conniving, shapely barracuda disguised in the season's finest frocks. Slithering beside Claire, as Underwood's personal lap dog we meet Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly). Yeah, if that lap dog was a rabid Maltese with its eye on a prime rib...in or out of the source's anatomy.
And ladies and gentlemen, may we introduce rising journalist Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara). Here's a chickbabe that doesn't mind using - and being used. Where is she getting those scoops?
Finally, but certainly not to be out done in anything-for-the-career is a young go-get-'er other-side-of-the-shipyard politician in the hairs of Underwood's plans, Peter Russo (Corey Stoll). This guy will make your jaw drop a few times at the shear depths he's willing to peruse in the name of personal success.
Everyone in and around the plots and subplots of House of Cards is riveting. The lengths the characters go to for...well what ever it is they want - and here read WANT! - complete with a foot-stamping tantrum in mind. Each episode intertwines a personal life soap operetta with the everyday cogs-in-motion of a few people in various stages of political power. You watch in horror as "We the People," vote in these masked pontificators, who with our unknowing nods of approval, cut 12000 jobs to garner a mere 3000 for no other reason than it suits their personal agendas or that of the corporation that supports their campaign.
As all the remarkable drama unravels you may start to feel a bit heavy-hearted, as the realization that this "show" is part of what happens in our government branches happens every single day...It is politics as usual in deed.
That being typed, there's nothing as usual from this cast. The acting is precise; look at the cast. Kevin Spacey as Underwood is gonna give you acid reflux. You know this person under another name, is up at "The Hill" weaving Bills and laws without an iota of care for where his constituents chips may fall. And Mr. Spacey does bad so good.
Stoll as Russo makes your skin crawl. He's just an ass. But his pliability by those larger up on the political food chain knows at your comfort level. You may need a jar of caramel sauce handy for quick infusions of happy endorphins; the chemicals and high fructose corn-syrup subsidy in today's decadent faux creation seems entirely appropriate.
But even as the men are swimming amongst the sharks, it is truly the gals that tend to steal the show. The womens' roles are smartly written and there are no wilting flowers in this bunch of grab-you-by-the-throat ladies. Zoe is chilling. Claire is a delight to watch weave her web of decided devotion vs. self-agenda.
Uber-talent, Robin Wright, plays Claire on a razor's edge. Just when you think she's got a pulse, she'll go and, well, do something, momentarily reminding you just how sociopathic she has become. Ambition is the undercurrent for both she and Zoe.
And Kate Mara takes her version of Zoe from a persona-to-the-world of a doe-eyed newbie, to the werewolf headline seeker she is in 0-to-80. Zoe's goal is to be someone - and to hell with anyone in her way. Brava Ms. Mara. A gal role with titanium balls.
on March 24, 2014
No one should expect this remake of the utterly brilliant BBC 'House of Cards' to be quite as good. I was just happy to see some great actors take up the game. But this 'Original Series' is itself a house of cards. Where is the fun? The guilty pleasure of hoping 'That Charming Devil Francis' prevails. Are there 10 bits of joy in the entire 9 episodes? (Yes I watched it all. I LOVE Spacey and Wright and Politics the way amateur triathletes like their pain.)
The violent sex and pervasive foulness that seems to have shocked some reviewers is a matter of taste. This is no stronger than HBO fans have come to expect. What really rankles is the pretentious tone of 'serious' drama. You'd think the fall of the Ukraine had led to World War III. What we have here is 600 minutes of a regional water bill and a stand-off with the teacher's union. Oh my.
The critical and popular success of the series may indicate how desperately we want to watch a politician being really bad. What we get is slow pacing, very little 'Inside the Beltway' savvy and Kevin Spacey trying to keep us from laughing for the wrong reasons. House of Cards is kind of a 'Sweat Act, injecting grimy melodrama in lieu of any real story or point of view. For those of us with too much time on our hands, it'll do.