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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
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From what I remember of the 1990 BBC version of House of Cards, this one is spiritually faithful but sufficiently different to make watching both a satisfying experience. The central dynamics remain - the sociopathic politician whose asides to the audience reveal the Machiavellian nature of his schemes & the extent of his contempt for those around him, like a predator curling up its nose at its prey; his equally ruthless wife, for whom getting her own way is justified by virtually any means; the naive yet ambitious journalist who lets Underwood manipulate her in exchange for career progression; and occasionally they even slip in that tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of hypocrisy, the memorable mantra 'you may think so but I couldn't possibly comment'. Indeed, the opening credits cite Michael Dobbs (writer of the original novels) & Andrew Davies (who adapted them for UK screens) as being Executive Producers for this series.

Nevertheless, transplanting the story to the good old US of A with its different political system has ensured this series is very different from the British one. This newer version is more visually striking, no doubt due to the reigns being held by David Fincher, director of aesthetically bold Hollywood films including Fight Club. Fincher decided to work on an ongoing series because of its greater scope for character development & analysis, which this setup delivers in spades. Fincher previously worked with Spacey in Seven & has gotten a superb performance out of him here. His Underwood is boiling rage tempered only slightly by cold contempt, masked with Southern charm & held in place with inhuman self-control & subtlety channeled with animal cunning. Yet part of what kept me hooked throughout this series were the occasional moments of ambiguity surrounding both Underwood & his wife (particularly, in my view, the latter) as to whether they really are as uncaring as they often seem, or whether they have a small chance at redemption.

In summary - brilliant acting, fascinating characters & some beautiful cinematography which does for Washington what The Apprentice does for London. It's going to feel like a long wait for series 2. This was Netflix's first stab at creating its own original programmes for its online streaming service & one which is bound to leave an indelible mark on the map.

Incidentally, I've just watched the first episode of Boss - Season 1 & feel it may appeal to fans of this series, just as long as you can stomach its wobbly camerawork without getting dizzy.
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on 6 March 2014
At first, I was a little sceptical whether this American version of "House Of Cards" would be a poor rehash of the earlier extraordinary TV series starring Ian Richardson. I thought our version could not be topped. However, whilst both series are set in the world of politics, this new series had me gripped very quickly and stands on its own merits, due to great writing but the fantastic acting skills of Mr Can't-Put-A-Foot-Wrong Kevin Spacey and the rest of the cast. I cannot recommend this series highly enough - great viewing.
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on 14 June 2013
The future is now, that is according to popular downloadable TV services. Why wait a week for your TV fix, when you can grab an entire series in one go. Boxset fans have known about this for years, readily absorbing entire runs of a show in a weekend, rather than waiting until 9pm on Thursdays. `House of Cards' promises to be the future, yet here we find it out on boxset, the place we all know and love. Show run by David Fincher `Cards' is very well shot and the HD version of the physical medium is the best option, but what of the show?

Kevin Spacey plays Francis Underwood, a Machiavellian politician who even The Prince would be wary around. He uses his political and none political influences to steer the President, Senate and Congress to his way of thinking. Over the course of a series he pulls the strings of power leaving him on the precipice of great things. Here is a man willing to do anything to gain power, but behind every great man is a greater woman, in this case Claire Underwood (Robin Wright). She has her own agenda as well as selling the Underwood brand. As a couple that make Macbeth and his Lady look like the amateurs they were, can they succeed where the Scottish Play did not?

`Cards' is an incredibly intense and rich viewing experience. The acting, writing and direction are all top-notch and leave you clamouring for more as every episode ends. Spacey is charming as Frank, a horrible man, but someone I really wanted to see succeed. He appears to show us the true face of many politicians. It would not matter where a show like `Cards' starts off its broadcasting life as it is the quality of talent that matters. Anytime, anywhere `House of Cards' would be great telly.
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on 8 March 2013
I have the original BBC series of the same name on DVD. There is no connection between the two, except the name. Every character in "House of cards-USA" is an irredeemable, amoral, nasty, self-obsessed, insanely driven and selfish monster who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. Normal rules of civilisation do not apply. A Wife is fully cognisant of her husband's affair and even approves as the affair may help achieve a goal. Murder is carried out to avoid bad publicity. Power of high office is used almost arbitrarily to crush human obstacles. The glib acceptance of this sociopathic behaviour by the main characters as normal is one of the most striking and well-written aspects of each episode. The incessant and unrelenting tsunami of vile people doing vile things to each other and to innocent bystanders never becomes wearying. The portrayal of the most powerful people in the land as being the most corrupt is an old story but has rarely been told so well. Kevin Spacey will undoubtedly acquire the acting awards here. His character makes my skin crawl, such is the ferocity of the performance. He rarely raises his voice but he is a smiling, softly-spoken, southern gentleman and savage predator. In short, I absolutely loved every episode and I look forward to the next series.
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on 29 July 2014
This is one of those rare shows that treats the audience like adults, with a brain.
It's powerful and subtle, nuanced and wonderful.
A lot of the plotting and interactions between characters is unsaid, implied or runs as a tense undercurrent - it's all there, if you're watching - and this is one show that demands your undivided attention - so put your phone down and watch it, you'll be rewarded.
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on 28 February 2014
This deserve more than five star.

It is a well made television programme. Kevin Spacey at his best. The writing is sharp, engaging and clear, and the characters are interesting and well developed. The editing helps: it is tight and keeps the plot moving briskly, making the political intrigue both exciting and easy to follow.

Looking forward to watching Season 2. I hope Amazon Instant and Prime Instant Video will added to their list.
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on 13 January 2014
I always enjoy Kevin Spacey's work. Having seen the original House of Cards I was interested to see what the Americans would do with it. I was pleasantly surprised when I realized that the story is only loosely based on the original so I cannot guess exactly where this is going.
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on 11 August 2015
I give it almost five stars but not five because I think Borgen and The Wire are more original, intelligent, complex and politicsl than this. But this is the top of glamour, entertainment and politics if you watch tv, it's shakespearian, sometimes in an easy way. (Thanks to Kevin Spacey and his fantastic wife) even though the original series (yes, it's a remake of a nineties bbc series, much simpler and poorer visually) was very audacious and smart script-wise. It's an american moral tale, very puritan in a way but at the same time very thought provoking, if you consider the audience it is addressed to. Visually great. Fincher made a sort of 12 episode film that has nothing less than his real films.
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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.
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on 31 March 2014
The British thriller starring Ian Richardson and set in Whitehall and Westminster has been parachuted into Washington DC. Not entirely succcessfully. Unless one is familiar with the American form of government something gets lost in the translation. Brits knew where the characters fitted into our system and could, therefore, relate to them. This need not have been a major problem had the US plot been tighter. The UK plot was clear-cut and logical. It moved steadily towards the goal. This US series lacks pace. Kevin Spacey is a fine actor but, by Disc3, does one really care any more what happens to him? Robin Wright, as his wife, plays a character who makes Lady Macbeth seem cuddly - yet it is a two-dimensional character; a one-note instrument. I suspect this series will indeed appeal to Americans but, for me at least, it was a disappointment.
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