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152 of 156 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

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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 6 months ago by Peter Blache


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152 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellence in television, 15 April 2006
By 
Jason J. Wood - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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, 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.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It doesn't get much better than this!, 28 Oct 2007
By 
Sophie Masson (Armidale, New South Wales Australia) - See all my reviews
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We watched this astonishing series over three white-knuckle days, drawn immediately into the corrupt, cynical, ambitious, frightening, murderous, elegant world of Francis Urqhuart as easily as flies drawn into a spider's web! This is so beautifully plotted, magnificently performed and brilliantly scripted that you run out of superlatives. It also has a marvellously intriguing ''alternative history'' feel that works really well because it evokes both the distant past--the trilogy is stuffed full of Jacobean allusions and atmosphere--but also the less distant past, like the post-Thatcher era, and the present. Political thrillers don't get much better than this!
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118 of 122 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 22 July 2004
By 
Ms. S. Mail "possibly comment" (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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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 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...
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc, 25 Oct 2008
Sorry about the title but it seems so apt - "After it, therefore because of it". I first saw this series when first broadcast way back when and I remember it being brilliant. However I have, in similar fashion, bought other series and programs from my dim and distant past released on DVD and been bitterly disappointed when I watched them (testament to a fading memory or a desperate attempt to cling on to my childhood). One or two exceptions (Edge of Darkness and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy being most notable) kept my faith. So, I bought it, unwrapped it, placed it in my DVD player and instantly lost the next 4 hours of my life! It is quite simply the best British TV drama the BBC has ever produced! Forget period time pieces (yes, ladies, even Mr. Darcy climbing out of a lake) this is the most engaging TV I have ever seen. Ian Richardson inexorably draws you in to his spider's web of intrigue, you become complicit when he confides in your directly through the camera and you end each episode feeling vaguely guilty and you're not sure why! If you remember HoC first time around, buy it! If you didn't see it first time around, buy it! If you simply appreciate first class, gripping drama and first rate acting, buy it! Otherwise, buy it anyway!
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88 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply the best, 20 July 2004
Everything has been said about the artistic merits of this series. Yes, the acting is fantastic, yes the dialogue is sharp, sarcastic and very eloquent and the characters are just wonderfully entertaining to watch. But there are three main reasons why this series is legendary. First, the actual events overtaking the original broadcast with the resignation of Margaret Thatcher, second, the fantastic Ian Richardson, and third, the direct-to-camera acting of the main character, dragging the audience into his evil deeds. I taped the series when it was broadcast over here in Germany, I bought the tapes from the BBC and finally I own the whole thing on DVD. I know it by heart anyway, because I must have seen it a thousand times, and I'm still not tired of it, because Richardson alone makes this so entertaining.
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.
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7 of 7 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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26 of 28 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
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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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars You might say that I couldn�t possibly comment ..., 4 July 2004
House of cards is a classic (real old school bbc)
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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Total lack of information, 8 Mar 2014
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This review is from: House of Cards [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
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 was so badly presented I would not have bought it. Shame on you BBC!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What excellent drama !, 28 Oct 2007
By 
Mr. Mg Reynolds "Carry On fan" (Oxfordshire UK) - See all my reviews
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This was very well written & the cast did a superb job of depicting the characters from the novel . It is pure Shakespeare the way that Urqhurt talks to the camera and despite how the fact he is so very wicked one cannot help but like this political survival artist . The late Ian Richardson certainly had his finest hour in this season with House of Cards & To Play The King being an interesting critique of the political class , the Royal Family ( more so in To Play The King ) and their relationship with the press barons . The editing is of a high standard and the theme tune catches the powerfull nature of the series admirably . The Final Cut while being above average as a drama is found wanting as it was never going to beat the first two in the trilogy in terms of quality and the stroyline is a bit fantastical and not as true to the novel as House Of Cards or To Play The King . Perhapes by the time The Final Cut was filmed we had all got a little too used to Francis Urqhurt and the threat he posed anyone who stood in his way . Be that as it may this is a fine bit of work from the BBC drama department and Ian Richardson steals the show without a doubt !
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House of Cards [DVD] [1990]
House of Cards [DVD] [1990] by Ian Richardson (DVD - 2013)
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