Created by: Beau Willimon, adapted from the BBC series of the same name that was based on the novel by Michael Dobbs.
Starring: Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Kate Mara, Kristen Connolly, Michael Kelly, Corey Stoll, Sakina Jaffrey, Larry Pine, Nathan Darrow, Sandrine Holt, Constance Zimmer, Michael Gill and many more.
I should have known this series about Francis Underwood, the Majority Whip who vengefully manipulates his way up the White House ladder, was based on a) a book and b) a BBC series. This is not your average American Political Drama. It has the literary feel of the BBC with exceptional character development, the mood of a David Fincher movie (who directed the first two episodes) and the intrigue of a well thought out crime novel.
What I like: The series deftly presents itself as a modern tragedy. There is a dark, eerie feel to the setting that mirrors the action. The dialogue is poignant without being verbose and the characters are ambitious to a man but with humour and complexity. Kevin Spacey relishes his role as the puppet master and he should, because our eyes follow him in anticipation of his next aside. Robin Wright masks her ambitions and fears with masterful stoicism. All told, the show is excellently executed.
What I don’t like: House of Cards is too smart to rely on cliff-hangers to engage audiences and it unfolds slowly to develop each plot or character with precision. However, it does prevent me from watching the next episode immediately. I have no trouble taking time off between episodes, something I couldn’t do with Damages though the characters on that show had less redeeming qualities. Also like Damages, there is really no character to root for, least of all the smug young journalist who might be intended to engage our sympathies but does not. My lack of emotional investment might also explain why I only watch one episode at a time, despite the fact that Netflix made the entire first season available in one shot.
My rating: Not sure how it can get better but I have a feeling it will.
Airs: Season One is available on Netflix.