Top critical review
13 people found this helpful
Some good points but a pale shadow of the original
on 8 November 2013
I am rather bemused by all of the 5-star reviews of this series. It's okay, and we watched it all the way through, but it never even remotely approaches the heights of its illustrious predecessor. I can't help comparing it to the original, and in two key ways it falls far short.
Firstly, the plot of this version is flabby and unfocused. It suffers greatly from the fact that they obviously had to fill 13 episodes and leave room for the future. This means that the story meanders along and gets rather lost in the middle of the season. There were two or three very tedious filler episodes around two thirds of the way through, and the whole series lacked real drive. In the original, it was sharp and focused, and the plot pulled you precisely through the story.
Secondly, Kevin Spacey is OK but he doesn't approach the deliciously venomous heights of Ian Richardson in the original. Francis Urquhart is by turns charming, hard-nosed, seductive, playful, ironic and ruthless, and Richardson played every aspect of this character flawlessly.
There are other good points and bad points - the lack of any kind of climax to the series left us wondering whether we'd finished, for example. The translation to a US setting has been well done, as far as I can judge as a Brit. The characters are of variable quality. It's more polished than the UK series was (which shows its age a bit in the production), but the slightly less polished gem that was the original shines far brighter than this version.
In the end, perhaps the best aspect of this series is that it will draw a lot of people to watch the original who would otherwise never have heard of it. I'd like to see the reviews of those who have watched the two series in the reverse order.