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House of Cards [DVD] 
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Box set containing the Urquhart trilogy: three series based on the bestselling novels by Michael Dobbs, starring Ian Richardson as corrupt politician Francis Urquhart. In 'House of Cards', Urquhart is a long-serving MP who has his eye on the top job, and will stop at nothing to fulfil his ambition. As the trusted Chief Whip, he has insider knowledge that could bring down the already precarious Prime Minister, and in order to unleash his power he draws innocent young journalist Mattie Storin (Susannah Harker) into his schemes. 'To Play the King' continues to follow Urquhart's career. Having been made Prime Minister at the end of the last series after murdering an investigative reporter, he now crosses swords with the newly crowned monarch (Michael Kitchen) - a passionate man with firm liberal beliefs on the future of the country. In the final part of the trilogy, 'The Final Cut', Urquhart is well on his way to becoming Britain's longest-serving Prime Minister, and is starting to plan his retirement. He still has the Cyprus peace treaty to tie up, however, and the dark secrets from his past are beginning to come back to haunt him.
Important product note: The DVDs in this box set play on both sides, and therefore no printed information or artwork appears on the discs.
Political drama doesn't get more near the knuckle than Michael Dobbs' House of Cards trilogy, adapted for the screen by Andrew Davies and originally broadcast in the post-Thatcher years of the early 1990s. A splendid dissection of naked ambition, greed and rampant hypocrisy in the corridors of power, the original four-part series House of Cards documents in thrilling detail the rise of Tory Chief Whip Francis Urquhart (magnificent Ian Richardson), a man who likes to "put the stick about a bit" and has unwavering contempt for those with "no background, no bottom". With the downfall of Margaret Thatcher, a bitter internecine power struggle ensues within the Conservative Party. Urquhart schemes more devilishly than Iago to depose Thatcher's colourless John Major-style successor. And even Machiavelli would baulk at Urquhart's methods: any and every act--including murder--are legitimate as the end very much justifies the means. Idealistic journalist Matti Storin (Susannah Harker) becomes embroiled in Urquhart's nefarious plans (and ends up in his bed) as she attempts to question him about what's really going on: "You might think so, I couldn't possibly comment," is Urquhart's mantra of hypocrisy.
In To Play the King, the second part of the trilogy, we find our anti-hero comfortably installed as PM at No. 10 but facing a fresh challenge in the person of the newly crowned King (Michael Kitchen in a pitch-perfect Prince Charles impersonation), who wears his social conscience on his sleeve and publicly opposes Urquhart's hardline policies. With the help of political analyst and new mistress Sarah Harding (Kitty Aldridge), as well as that of his ambitious wife Elizabeth (Diane Fletcher), Urquhart is forced to resort to still more underhand plots. Then, in The Final Cut, we find Urquhart determined to last as long in office as Mrs Thatcher (whose statue, much to his chagrin, is about to be unveiled in front of his window). But ambitions to make a mark on the world stage, as well as his wife's desire to provide themselves a comfortable retirement nest egg, lead him into the choppy international waters of the Cyprus situation. The temptations of corrupt businessmen and his wife's goading might just have pushed Urquhart's luck too far this time.
Throughout, Richardson is a delight as the hypocritical, arrogant patrician who loathes the hoi polloi whose favour he must court at election time, and manipulates all his minions with a ruthless singlemindedness of purpose. However much a monster he seems, though, the viewer might just find themselves secretly admiring his determination and his lion-like strength of will: in contrast to many drab modern politicians, at least he knows what he wants, and makes sure he gets it. If it's strong leadership you want, Urquhart's your man.
On the DVD: The House of Cards trilogy has the three four-part series on three double-sided discs, with two hour-long episodes on each side of each disc. The first episodes come with a commentary from Andrew Davies and Ian Richardson, who share their memories and anecdotes. --Mark Walker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
And there's a bonus in the shape of commentaries over the first episode of each of the three series by Richardson, Davies and Producer Ken Riddington, which are both enlightening and at times amusing.
Would I recommend the purchase of this DVD set? You might very well think that...
It is the story of naked, ruthless ambition in British politics that shows a staggering realism whilst at the same time allowing for dramatic flights of story. Richardson's Urquart is beautifully played, and the character makes me uneasy in the same way that the Shield's Vic Mackey does: you absolutely know he's a villain, he has done despicable things but damn.
My only wish for television these days is that they invest in drama like this: it is a thoroughly watchable drama, and gets the full five stars for being so.
It details the rise and rise of Ian Richardson character through the houses of Parliament, a dark and dangerous place that has a lot of sharks and predators waiting for the unwary. As the story unfolds thought his interaction with Susannah Harker's character you find out the he is the biggest predator of them all.
The acting of the two main stars is fantastic, as is the dialog. Giving us such memorable lines as
"You might say that, I couldn't possibly comment" which deserves to go down in history with such lines as "Broadsword calling Danny-Boy"
A great series, of political goings on, a lot darker and griping than The West Wing and the likes.
Although the first installment is widely regarded to be the best, i agree with the first two episodes. They are the best of the whole series, and the finale on the rooftop is just shocking, but the overall best series for me always has been "To play the king" because Michael Kitchen is just fabulous as the monarch and strong opponent to Urquhart. The last series "The final cut" has this air of sadness all through it, and is basically a farewell to Urquharts character. He gets what he deserves for sure, but the viewer is left oddly unsatisfied with the end. It's just sad in my view. Overall it is almost eleven hours of high quality political satire with shocking moments, unforgettable bonmots and the best British acting has to offer.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A simply stunning piece of work.
The sound & picture quality on this collection are very good.
I hugely enjoyed these series when they were first shown by the bbc, and i am delighted that they have been released on dvds. Read morePublished 7 days ago by JANET SLINGSBY
Superb!! I am looking forward to seeing American version of this, but i can see no way that they can compare with it.
This was the late Ian Richardson at his very best.
This delightful original recording has been much watched and enjoyed and can heartily recommend it. A gem.Published 12 days ago by P. Drummon Thompson