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149 of 153 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in television
The House of Cards saga is a tremendous achievement in television: expert direction including the use of 'piece to camera' monologues, beautifully constructed tension and an acting triumph by the main player, Ian Richardson. If shows like the West Wing capture our ideal politics, then House of Cards drenches it all in filthy water.

It is the story of naked,...
Published on 15 April 2006 by Jason J. Wood

versus
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Total lack of information
This excellent series is marred by the fact that the three DVD's have no marking on them to indicate which is the first, second or third in the series. In addition I have discoverd that they are double sided, again with no indication to say so. How are we supposed to kjnow which DVD we need to load into the player if we have nothing to tell us on the DVD? Had I known this...
Published 5 months ago by Peter Blache


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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoroughly enjoyable, 6 July 2007
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
Gripping! I will not repeat what others have said here, some of the best television I have seen in a long time.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars House Of Cards Trilogy - The best political drama ever? You might think that, but I could not possibly comment!, 29 Nov 2011
By 
Victor (Hull, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
I have to say that this highly original, intelligent and well crafted drama series has to be one of the best things I have ever seen on TV. It tells the story of Francis Urquhart, loyal member of the Conservative Party and chief whip. In the first series he appears as a loyal party man. He is motivated purely by what he perceives to be the good of the party and the good of the country. It just so happens that what he thinks would be best for party and country is him as Prime Minster, and we are treated to an exceptional tale as we are told of all the machinations he must go through to achieve his aim. In the second series, Urquhart's grip on power, and the policies he sees as essential for the country, are threatened by the open opposition of the new King, and Urquhart plays a desperate game in order to cling to power. In the final series aspects of Urquhart's past come back to haunt him, as he faces the challenges of any long serving prime minister in fighting off the young upstarts who want his place.

It is the telling of the story that is unique and makes this special. Ian Richardson, in what was one of his best ever performances, draws us into the tale and the mind of Urquhart with a series of knowing asides to the camera that makes the viewer feel an intimate, almost a part of the proceedings. Because of this the viewer feels as though they are being treated with some respect by the writer, and even though the machinations are necessarily complex and Machiavellian it is easy to follow. Richardson's carefully nuanced performance, each syllable perfectly stressed and delivered whilst all the time he acts as much with body language as speech, is a masterclass, and you could really believe that Urquhart is a real person and not the construct of the actor and writer. His character is a complex one, and the facets of it are brought forth wonderfully. He is a man of great charm, and at the end of each series, at the make or break point, you are really rooting for him, even though by this point you know what he is capable of, and the acts that he has committed to get to, and stay at, the top. Also of note is Michael Kitchen as the King, in a performance of equal charm that delivers the naive yet idealistic stance of the man who is the only serious threat to Urquhart. Colin Jeavons shines as the loyal Stamper, Urquhart's almost indispensable aide.

The three series are presented on three double sided discs in a fold out card case the size of a normal DVD case. The picture and sound are pretty good, though I suspect there has been little or no cleaning up. All episodes appear to be complete with no cuts that I can detect. In all it's a decent presentation with no obvious flaws, and no unnecessary fripperies.

A thoroughly adsorbing and worthwhile piece of TV. Almost as good as Alec Guinness in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, which, coincidentally, also starred Ian Richardson.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Who said all political careers end in failure?, 14 Dec 2004
This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
Kept me glued to the screen desperate to know what happened. This series pulls no punches in it's portrayal of Westminster as a corrupt old boys club, where cynical chancers exploit everyone and everything around them for their own sinister ends.
And none is more sinister than Francis Urqhart. Ian Richardson is impressively menacing as the Machiavellian chief whip, who will stop at nothing to get to the top.
It's everything you always suspected was really going on behind the scenes of British politics, but prayed it wasn't true.
The first series of House of Cards is truly mesmerising and the next two series keep up the tension right until the final denoument.
What's also nice is that, being spliced up into 12 nice hour long segments it's also good for while away the long winter nights.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good show, but this release is rather poor quality., 23 Jun 2011
By 
A. Hosking "A" (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
I would give this series 5 stars, but unfortunately this DVD is based on the original early '90s telecine, now I wasn't expecting a HD scan akin to what they did with Pride and Prejudice, but I wasn't expecting a transfer from the original telecines either, so rather than going back to the original film reels, it looks to me like they just did a transfer from the broadcast tapes.
This could be to get people to buy it again when they do decide to go back to the original negatives.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars FU - The man we love, 24 Feb 2012
By 
Layton Lewis "Welsh15" (Wales, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
I bought the box set as my memory is a little foggy as to the way this played out - esp. the first Series (The House of Cards). Although I do remember enjoying it. Ian Richardson is superb as Francis Urquhart (or 'FU'), the highly intelligent and intuitive politician. We meet him first as Chief Whip for a floundering Tory administration. By managing to stay about 10 moves ahead of everyone else, he eventually reaches the top job of PM. The short pieces to camera are hilarious at times - although a little dark.
The Second Series has Francis as PM, but at loggerheads with a new king (whose mannerisms are very identifiable with our Queen's first son!)
The third, again has FU - but nearing the end of his tenure as PM, but none the less wiley. Still a force to be dealt with, we see him setting out plans for the day he leaves No.10, but an incident from his days in the Army during the Turkish occupation of Cyprus come back to haunt him

Excellent - a def 'BUY IT' rating and well worth the price
Shame the BBC don't make enough drama's of this quality these days!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars You might very well think that..., 27 Dec 2005
By 
Kurt Messick "FrKurt Messick" (London, SW1) - See all my reviews
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House of Cards, a BBC production done at the time of Margaret Thatcher's downfall, is one of the best modern political intrigue/satires done. The cast, the story, and the exacting attention to detail make this a piece worth watching and re-watching, to see what details escaped notice the first time.
The Plot
As the story opens, Thatcher has just resigned. There is a brief glimpse of an inner-party election for a new leader, and the moderate, middle candidate Henry Collingridge wins the post, and proceeds to barely win the next General Election. Almost immediately following this event, tempers begin to flare as Urqhart is denied the promotion he had sought, and is disgusted with Collingridge's 'politics as usual' stance.
Francis Urqhart, Conservative Party whip and functionary, with the unwitting assistance of a junior political reporter Mattie Storin, and the manipulated support of party functionary Roger O'Neill, sets out to undo the Prime Minister, involving the PM in scandals that rock his fragile majority and ever-loosening grip on power. Ultimately, Urqhart's schemes against Collingridge bring the PM down, and the stage is set for another leadership election.
Urqhart, at the urging of his wife Elizabeth, works toward the leadership and works toward solidifying the loyalties of his minions, who include the ruffian Tim Stamper, an associate whip in the Commons, and Benjamin Landless, a newspaper proprietor. However, it is in making Storin his bedroom partner and virtual worshipper that Urqhart has his strongest support; this support is not absolute, something he recognises. This relationship is done with the blessing, nay, with the urging, of his wife Elizabeth.
Urqhart uses his inside knowledge to make short work of all but the top contenders for the job, and then casts his lot for the job at the last moment, splitting the ticket. Knocking one contender against another one final time, Urqhart carries the election. However, O'Neill is unstable and unsure of the propriety of his dealings in bringing down Collingridge, and Storin realises at the last moment that she has been a pawn in a master political chess game. O'Neill's cocaine problem leads to his demise, as Urqhart plants poison in his drugs and permits O'Neill's nature to do him in. Storin discovers this murder plot, and confronts Urqhart, who confesses, but then proceeds to throw Mattie Storin bodily from the roof of the House of Commons.
But, there was a tape recorder running, setting the stage for the sequel...
`To Play the King' is the sequel, in which Urqhart matches forces against the newly installed King, played by Michael Kitchen. The King sees himself as the champion of the underdog and underclass Urqhart has abandoned, and it is a literal battle royale to the end. Storin has been replaced by Sarah Harding, who finds Urqhart is more than a match for her minor turncoating as well.
Finally, `The Final Cut' brings things full circle, as Urqhart beats Thatcher's record of unbroken days in office. However, his lust for power drives him into reckless foreign affairs, and his wife comes into her own with scheming beyond measure.
The Cast
Ian Richardson is masterful as Urqhart, the scheming blackheart Chief Whip/Prime Minister. His voice, his subtle inflections and tones are perfect for the subtext in the words he speaks. His sidewise glances and knowing expressions to camera as the action plays out is worth far more than any words. He is a perfect snobbish, upper-class politico who considers political office as patrician right, and despises pretenders to the role.
Diane Fletcher is superb as Elizabeth Urqhart, the equally manipulative wife. She is under utilised in this part of the trilogy, coming into her own as a character and an actress in later parts of the trilogy. One gets the strong sense of muted ambition and greed, but not amorality or power for power's sake from her, a distinction hard to play out on video. Fletcher succeeds beautifully.
Susannah Harker plays Mattie Storin, the troubled, intelligent and inexperienced journalist who falls for Urqhart. Her psychological instability and intelligence are played beautifully. Harker can make quite a statement just with the movements of her eyes, making her a good counterpoint to Richardson.
Miles Anderson plays the drug addict/party operative Roger O'Neill, doing a good job at playing the cad, the coward, and the fearful go-along with Urqhart's schemes. A rat trapped, O'Neill is at the breaking point, and Anderson plays this admirably.
Perhaps the best secondary roles were performed by Alphonsia Emmanuel, who plays O'Neill's assistant and lover Penny Guy, and James Villiers, who plays Charles Collingridge, the deposed Prime Minister's troubled brother. Their roles shine brilliantly despite the relative lack of screen time.
In the second series, Michael Kitchen as the King and Kitty Aldridge as Sarah Harding take primary roles, and Colin Jeavons as Stamper repeats his performance of the earlier episode, this time with much more panache. In the third series, Isla Blair as Claire Carlsen and Paul Freeman make a good show, if not altogether convincing as the final opponents for Urqhart.
One gets the impression that everyone in British politics is brilliant and troubled. Well, the truth would be about half that.
The Play's the Thing...
This production, in writing and execution, is full of Shakespearean nuances. There are indirect and direct references to Richard III, and Urqhart is a Machiavellian manipulator in the Duke of Gloucester's image, recast for modern dress and situation, complete with stage whispers and asides to audience. The depth of the characters, while still remaining caricatures, is fascinating. Perhaps the best-known line for a while was Urqhart's attempts to get information out to the journalist Storin without actually telling her, and being guilty (by the letter of the law) for leaks and disclosures. She would hint and speculate, at which Urqhart would reply, `You might very well think that. I of course couldn't possibly comment.'
John Major used this response in one of his own question-time exchanges, a use that was appreciated by the Members on both sides of the House.
Conclusions
For those who know nothing of British politics, this is actually a fascinating way to learn. For those who take an interest in British politics, this provides an intriguing fictional tale that is, in many ways, so close to reality on so many levels as to be positively unnerving.
Richardson rightly won BAFTA awards for his portrayal of Urqhart in each of the three installments, House of Cards and its sequels To Play the King and The Final Cut. These sequels were possibly only because of a BBC change to Dobbs' original manuscript, which had Urqhart rather than Storin falling from the rooftop garden of the House of Commons.
A bonus for the viewer.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 24 Sep 2007
By 
Jason Mills "jason10801" (Accrington, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
The first series, "House of Cards", traces Francis Urquhart's manipulative and murderous rise to power. It's a little superficial but very entertaining, with Ian Richardson's confiding asides to camera irresistibly turning the viewers into co-conspirators. (Much as he's great in this, I still think Richardson's finest hour was alongside Michael Elphick in "Private Schulz".)

The second series, "To Play The King", is the strongest for my money, building up a plausible constitutional confrontation between Urquhart PM and the King. Michael Kitchen is excellent as a fictionalised version of Prince/King Charles, and Colin Jeavons gets to sink his teeth into a role for once. There's a moral debate at the centre of this one that's powerful and boldly articulated.

The third series, "The Final Cut", is essentially more of the same, but less successful. All the players are too compromised to enable us to cheer or condemn one side. Urquhart's aide, Clare, is a crucial character, but so hedged in ambivalence that we get no clear sense of her motives. The denouement is a tad contrived and carries little moral force.

Nonetheless, it's good TV throughout. It's presented on 3 double-sided discs, each featuring 4 episodes of 45-60 minutes. The first episode in each series has a commentary; other than that there are no extras.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars How's your Dutch?, 7 July 2014
By 
J. Manning (UK) - See all my reviews
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Previous reviewers have made comment on this excellent BBC series from the 1990's and there is nothing more that I can add. Of the three series, the second is the weakest (To Play the King) with the otherwise excellent Michael Kitchen trying to be the future King Charles, complete with fairly dodgy impersonation. That aside it still ranks as one of the finest BBC dramas from that era.

However, the technical details make no mention of the fact that this is a Dutch import (fortunately still Region 2) and that the trailers and indeed the menu page are in Dutch! Subtitles appear by default, although they can be turned off at the menu page. An irritation, but nothing more and should not dissuade anybody from acquainting (or re-acquainting) themselves with these excellent dramas.

Five stars all round.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars At last on DVD....... but only Region 1 !!!!!!!, 10 Dec 2003
By 
Robert M. Mee - See all my reviews
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I have to admit that I haven't in fact seen this DVD, as I don't have a Region 1 DVD player. I have, however, for a couple of years hunted high and low for "House of Cards" on DVD, as it is probably the best ever political satire to grace the TV screens. I only hope it will be followed soon by a DVD that can be played in the country in which the series originated!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ageless, 17 Mar 2010
By 
Mr. T. Spiers (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
A great story combined with magnificent acting and directing makes this DVD a timeless classic. Ian Richardson is frighteningly believable as Francis Urquhart, a right wing politician who believes the end always justifies the means.
At the current Amazon price, this Trilogy is amazing value.
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The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD]
The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] by Ian Richardson (DVD - 2004)
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