I heard about this year’s other new show (after The Americans) House of Cards from a few different people before I finally got around to watching it. And then I was captivated and hooked! It is a fantastic, riveting show with an extraordinary performance from Kevin Spacey as the completely amoral House Minority Whip Frank Underwood. Despite being from New Jersey, Spacey affects a perfect South Carolina accent – just enough to know you are just south of the Mason-Dixon line but north enough to be comprehensible to Yankees. Like House of Lies, Spacey’s character is always breaking the fourth wall and talking directly to us in the audience (and sometimes just glaring or smiling at us) and explaining his understanding of how Washington works, what he is working on, how he is manipulating people and situations, what he fears…it is captivating television. And he is an evil mofo. Because I want you to go immediately to Netflix and download and watch this, I will not give any spoilers. [Speaking of Netflix, isn’t it interesting that this killer of Blockbuster has now started producing its own shows? My reading says that they outbid HBO, Showtime and AMC to capture this masterpiece!] I found this far more compelling than West Wing for which I could only last about 6 or 8 episodes of the first season. Robin Wright as his wife Claire is a perfect Machiavellian match for Frank as she also is willing to destroy lives in order to further her ambitions and her acting is spectacular. The quiet scenes at their window as they smoke and plot and chat are some of the best written in the entire show. The sultry Kate Mara plays Zoe Barnes, a journalist cut from the same cloth as Frank and Claire. She plays a huge role throughout the season with some superb twists thrown in – no spoilers I promise! The show is rich in minor characters (one of my favorites being Reg E Cathey’s Freddie who owns Frank’s hidden barbecue haven) and abounds in plots and subplots. There are NO dull moments here. Beau Willimon‘s writing (10 out of 13 episodes including Executive Producer credits alongside Spacey himself and a bunch of others) is balanced, nuanced, and subtle – he doesn’t overplay or undersell his characters. OK, so sometimes the lines of, say, Pete Russo (played amazingly by Corey Stoll) are a bit dead-pan, but I think that overall it was very close to flawless. If I had to choose, I’d say that the pilot and Chapter 8 were among the best along with Chapters 12 and 13 but honestly, my heart was pounding end-to-end. Yet another series for which I will be breathlessly waiting the next instalment in 2014.
- Why you should watch House of Cards immediately (thefirstruleoffilmclub.wordpress.com)
- Kevin Spacey talks politics, ambition and ‘House of Cards’ (washingtonpost.com)