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128 of 132 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!
The House of Cards Trilogy must surely be rated as one of the best contemporary dramas ever made. Ian Richardson's performance is simply breathtaking, and Andrew Davies' scripts the work of a true genius. As well as the stunning central performance by Richardson, the cast and crew as a whole deserve great praise.
And there's a bonus in the shape of commentaries...
Published on 22 July 2004 by Ms. S. Mail

versus
15 of 15 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 14 months ago by Peter Blache


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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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Bottom of the Deck!, 17 July 2007
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
What if Shakespeare's Lord and Lady Macbeth had been temporally transported into twenty-first century Britain? They would certainly be reincarnated into the insidious Francis Urquhart and his formidable spouse Elizabeth. In their new personae, 'MacUrquhart' would still be haunted by guilty visions but would shed any qualms about committing murder in the interests of power, and 'Lady MacUrquhart' would waste no more time sleepwalking but sustain her role as the actual but invisible control over the man with titular authority.

The "House of Cards Trilogy," which includes "To Play the King" and "Final Cut," not only portrays such a ghastly scenario, but also demonstrates the disastrous consequences for a post-modern Britain when such a pair first insinuates itself into a position of power and then seizes and maintains an unrelenting grip on that power, even if, in the final analysis, it has to provoke a bloody war to do so. Thanks to Andrew Davies' darkly comedic script, Ian Richardson's brilliant portrayal of Francis, and a splendid supporting cast, the viewer is locked in suspense and held in a state somewhere between laughing and cringing at the political shenanigans, too many of which resound with an uncomfortable ring of contemporary probability.

The humor derives from Richardson as Francis, who ruptures the invisible barrier between illusion and reality by taking the audience into his confidence. In "House of Cards" he does this with such wry wit that viewers are drawn easily into his thrall, so much so that despite their better natures and common sense, they find themselves liking and identifying with this charming unapologetic scoundrel. Somewhere in the middle of "To Play the King," however, they realize, to their increasing horror, that by sharing in his most intimate thoughts, they have actually become co-conspirators in the machinations of Urquhart, who in a literal blink of the eye transforms congeniality into the mesmerizing malevolence of a king cobra. By the time they have become absorbed in the plot of "Final Cut," they are inextricably tied to Urquhart's fate, as on a runaway train. Thus the scenario becomes metaphorical for the public's unfortunate propensity to be seduced by plausible but unscrupulous politicians who draw them into situations that they might not realize are unsupportable until it is too late. The repeated use in "To Play the King" of Urquhart's initials, F.U., illustrates this proposition.

The late Ian Richardson's ability to keep the audience enthralled in the destiny of this despicable rogue testifies to his incomparable subtlety as an actor, who will be sorely missed. The lynchpin of the tale, Richardson is amply supported by an ensemble cast, including Diane Fletcher as his horrific wife; Colin Jeavens as Tim Stamper, his `whip' who wields 'a bit of stick'; Nicholas Grace as Stamper's toadying successor, Geoffrey Booza-Pitt; and Nick Brimble as the sinister Corder. Among Urquhart's memorable victims are Michael Kitchen as the well-meaning king, Susanna Harker as the unstable Mattie Storrin, Kitty Aldrich as the altruistic Sarah, to name only a few. All characters in this cautionary tale are vulnerable to the enticements of power, even those who begin as honest idealists. When Corder informs the nobly motivated Tom Makepeace, who eventually succeeds Urquhart as leader of the party, that "we"--meaning Corder, Elizabeth, and the rest--are "right behind" him, one understands the story's message that all politicians, even those with the best of motives, are liable to being corrupted absolutely by the acquisition of absolute power.

PS: I just purchased the remastered Blu-Ray edition, and it is *splendid*!!!
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good stuff, 24 Sept. 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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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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26 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From the Bottom of the Deck!, 17 July 2007
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
What if Shakespeare's Lord and Lady Macbeth had been temporally transported into twenty-first century Britain? They would certainly be reincarnated into the insidious Francis Urquhart and his formidable spouse Elizabeth. In their new personae, 'MacUrquhart' would still be haunted by guilty visions but would shed any qualms about committing murder in the interests of power, and 'Lady MacUrquhart' would waste no more time sleepwalking but sustain her role as the actual but invisible control over the man with titular authority.

The "House of Cards Trilogy," which includes "To Play the King" and "Final Cut," not only portrays such a ghastly scenario, but also demonstrates the disastrous consequences for a post-modern Britain when such a pair first insinuates itself into a position of power and then seizes and maintains an unrelenting grip on that power, even if, in the final analysis, it has to provoke a bloody war to do so. Thanks to Andrew Davies' darkly comedic script, Ian Richardson's brilliant portrayal of Francis, and a splendid supporting cast, the viewer is locked in suspense and held in a state somewhere between laughing and cringing at the political shenanigans, too many of which resound with an uncomfortable ring of contemporary probability.

The humor derives from Richardson as Francis, who ruptures the invisible barrier between illusion and reality by taking the audience into his confidence. In "House of Cards" he does this with such wry wit that viewers are drawn easily into his thrall, so much so that despite their better natures and common sense, they find themselves liking and identifying with this charming unapologetic scoundrel. Somewhere in the middle of "To Play the King," however, they realize, to their increasing horror, that by sharing in his most intimate thoughts, they have actually become co-conspirators in the machinations of Urquhart, who in a literal blink of the eye transforms congeniality into the mesmerizing malevolence of a king cobra. By the time they have become absorbed in the plot of "Final Cut," they are inextricably tied to Urquhart's fate, as on a runaway train. Thus the scenario becomes metaphorical for the public's unfortunate propensity to be seduced by plausible but unscrupulous politicians who draw them into situations that they might not realize are unsupportable until it is too late. The repeated use in "To Play the King" of Urquhart's initials, F.U., illustrates this proposition.

The late Ian Richardson's ability to keep the audience enthralled in the destiny of this despicable rogue testifies to his incomparable subtlety as an actor, who will be sorely missed. The lynchpin of the tale, Richardson is amply supported by an ensemble cast, including Diane Fletcher as his horrific wife; Colin Jeavens as Tim Stamper, his `whip' who wields 'a bit of stick'; Nicholas Grace as Stamper's toadying successor, Geoffrey Booza-Pitt; and Nick Brimble as the sinister Corder. Among Urquhart's memorable victims are Michael Kitchen as the well-meaning king, Susanna Harker as the unstable Mattie Storrin, Kitty Aldrich as the altruistic Sarah, to name only a few. All characters in this cautionary tale are vulnerable to the enticements of power, even those who begin as honest idealists. When Corder informs the nobly motivated Tom Makepeace, who eventually succeeds Urquhart as leader of the party, that "we"--meaning Corder, Elizabeth, and the rest--are "right behind" him, one understands the story's message that all politicians, even those with the best of motives, are liable to being corrupted absolutely by the acquisition of absolute power.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great piece of British television drama, 1 Mar. 2012
By 
N. Young (London, UK) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
This was one of the great British TV programmes of the 1990s, and clear proof (if ever it were needed) that us Brits don't just do period costume dramas. It looks a bit dated visually, but a lot of the political stuff still resonates. The main draw is, of course, the main character. Watching this trilogy again is worth it just for Ian Richardson's incredible performance as the devious Urquhart, a villain of Shakespearean proportions (the breaking of the fourth wall demands rather than invites comparisons with Richard of Gloucester) who puts real-life politicians in the shade.

As far as a comparison between the three series is concerned, it's a case of the law of diminishing returns. `House of Cards' is by far and away the best, with `To Play the King' is a strong second (Michael Kitchen's impersonation of Prince Charles is truly inspired) and `The Final Cut' is a bit of a let-down after the first two. As far as that's concerned, though, it's worth bearing in mind that the man who wrote the books (Tory adviser turned novelist Michael Dobbs) never had a trilogy in mind when he started.

As for why I have only given it four stars - well, unlike Urquhart I could possibly comment on that. I don't like the double-sided DVDs.
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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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping and thought-provoking., 21 May 2013
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I'd heard great things about this series and always meant to get around to watching it, especially given the recent Kevin Spacey remake, and this Blu-ray release was the perfect opportunity. Asides to the camera are usually frowned upon, but Urquhart's character has such a disparity between his thoughts and actions that it works extremely well. It's all very Shakespearean, having strong parallels with Macbeth. Urquhart's politics are as frighteningly relevant today as they were in the Thatcher/Major years.

The picture quality of the Blu-ray is impressive, given that House of Cards (the first of the three mini series) was originally broadcast in 1990. If you have an aversion to the picture not filling the screen, be warned that this is a 4:3 presentation, meaning black bands at both sides on an HDTV. I prefer to watch things the way they were intended to be seen, so this wasn't a problem for me.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great series but CD's could be finished better, 20 April 2009
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This review is from: The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] (DVD)
The series is wonderful viewing and its great to have all three series in the one box.

One tiny complaint however. These are the reversible type of CD's, where there are two episodes on one side and two episodes on the reverse of each CD. However, all the CD's are completely unmarked - just blank silver discs on both sides. This makes it hard to remember which side you have watched and means that you have to be careful not to mix them up. I overcame this by naming the CD's with a special marker pen, but you don't expect to have to do this on any box set.
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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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The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD]
The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD] by Ian Richardson (DVD - 2004)
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