Game of Thrones
Star – Kevin Spacey & Robin Wright
Genre – Drama
Run Time – 12 x 50 minutes
Certificate – 18
Country – USA
Amazon – £14.90 DVD (Blue Ray £19.90)
Awards – Won 1 Golden Globe and one nomination
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So here we all are for season three of House of Cards on DVD and Season Four up and running on TV right now. It’s an adaptation of the unforgettable British drama from the 1980s with the brilliant Ian Richardson as the devious Francis Urquhart, and American being Americans, decided they could squeeze two box sets out of the original 4 hour long episodes by British writer Michael Dobbs 80s series and then add two more to make a ton more money for Netflix. You can’t blame them as it was a risk to stream the series live on their new platform in what was a brave TV experiment at the time and so they had to cash in with four series to keep earning new subscribers. They are not selling solid discs to pass around but home cinema tickets with no commercials. A $20 million dollar tax incentive helped from the Maryland Governor certainly helped though to cut that risk though.
The story so far is that conniving, sinister, ambitious and brutal South Carolina Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) has worked his way up from House Majority Whip to Vice President in season one and then President of the United States by the end of season two. He and his wife Claire (Robin Wright) will stop at nothing to get to The Whitehouse. But now they are there where can the series go?
Kevin Spacey as……….. Francis "Frank" J. Underwood, the President of the United States
Robin Wright as…….. Claire Underwood, the First Lady of the United States
Michael Kelly as……….. Douglas "Doug" Stamper, Frank Underwood's Chief of Staff
Elizabeth Marvel as……… Heather Dunbar, the United States Solicitor General.
Mahershala Ali a………….s Remy Danton, the White House Chief of Staff
Derek Cecil as………… Seth Grayson, the White House Press Secretary.
Nathan Darrow as………. Edward Meechum, a United States Secret Service agent
Molly Parker as………….. Jacqueline "Jackie" Sharp, the House Deputy Minority Whip.
Jimmi Simpson as………….. Gavin Orsay, a computer hacker and FBI informant
Paul Sparks as………… Thomas Yates, an author hired by Underwood to write a biography on him
Kim Dickens as………. Kate Baldwin, a journalist and White House Correspondent
Alexander Sokovikov a………….s Alexi Moryakov, the Russian Ambassador to the United Nations
Jayne Atkinson as…………. Catherine Durant, the United States Secretary of State
Lars Mikkelsen as………….. Viktor Petrov, the President of the Russian Federation
Kelly AuCoin as…………. Gary Stamper, Doug Stamper's brother
Benito Martinez as……………. Hector Mendoza, the Senate Majority Leader and a Republican United States Senate.
Larry Pine as………… Bob Birch, the House Minority Leader.
Reed Birney as Donald Blythe, the Vice President of the United States
Jenna Stern as……….. Eliana Caspi, the Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations
Rachel Brosnahan as ……Rachel Posner / Cassie Lockhart
Reg E. Cathey as……… Frederick 'Freddy' Hayes ...
Curtiss Cook as…….. Terry Womack, the House Minority Whip
Vice President Underwood has taken office as the President after skillfully and cynically getting President Walker to resign and now has 18 months to the next election, time to start plotting again. In the US four year election cycle you have to do your best stuff in the first two years as the next two is making deals and campaigning to get a second term and then once you are in again the role is more ceremonial as the next person is lined up for The Whitehouse.
Underwood plans to get reelected through his jobs plan ‘AmWorks’ to put 10 million Americans back to work through public funding to the tune of $500 billion dollars. The Republican Party are hot happy as to fund it Underwood intends to cut welfare and entitlements that mostly go to older people, Republic voters. As they fight him more on the plan he decides to localize the AmWorks to The Whitehouse home state of Maryland and fund and find work for 50,000 Americans to prove the plan works, if and when, it’s scaled up. Queues of American getting job snot five blocks from the Whitehouse is a great advert for it. But to fund it he decides to raid FEMAs budget, the emergency and relief department. With 40% of the budget gone he better pray to God a hurricane doesn’t hit.
The First lady quickly tires of her role and wants Frank to get the job with the UN so she has grounds to stand for President herself one day. They deicide on US Ambassador and Clair soon called into action when the Russians start playing up, macho President Petrov (Lars Mikkelsen) showing she is out of her depth. But Underwood knows his wife is ambitious and he has to feed her raw meat or she may even turn on him.
Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) is recovering from his attack by Rachael Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) and soon looking to get back to work with the President. But Underwood has a new team now and Doug unlikely to be needed. He will have to prove his undying loyalty once again if he is to get back into the inner circle.
Meanwhile Frank starts to weave his evil magic to deter potential Republic challengers to running for his job with Solicitor General Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel) and House Minority Whip Jacqueline Sharp (Molly Parker as) the main challengers, two attractive intelligent women more than a match, making Claire feel even more alienated from the top job. Underwood’s Chief of Staff Remy Dalton (Mahershala Ali) still has thing for Sharp and so tension there.
With AmWorks slipping away Frank decides to employ a writer, Thomas Yates (Paul Sparks), to promote America and Underwood’s jobs program. But the writer wants to write and digs rather too deep, unleashing emotions in Clair and Frank that threaten to break their solid partnership. Secrets and resentments that may lose the Big House…
So, Season One extremely good, Season Two also good but by then Underwood is in The Whitehouse ,his and the wives objective, and the journey over and so no point in any more series, right? But, like I said, this is American television and they will squeeze the life out of boxset drama and comedy until it stops making money, the case here. Season three seriously fell flat here and glad to get it done so I can move on to ‘The Newsroom’ in my pending boxset pile.
The main problem with season three is it’s essentially no longer the House of Cards, and so what that was all about and so made it good, and simply an inferior lesser version of The West Wing with a republican, not a Democratic, president. West Wing creator Aaron Sorkin said he would never make a Republic version of the West Wing as he had no passion for their politics and so no surprise House of Cards creator Beau Willimon did just that to full the vacuum and prolong his gig.
Season one and two were close enough to the original British series but season three feels like feminist soap opera revenge as President Underwood has been deliberately weakened by the writers as President - when in real life he would be getting stronger - so Claire and some strong females can be introduced to be more PC. The real life Donald Trump soap opera is far more interesting now. The Russian President is clearly based on Putin and so that feels odd and personal and all the love interest and inter-bonking feels forced to get that female audience on board. The less than subtle gay/bi-sexual thing with Spacey is back again and if you haven’t yet figured out that the only point of the film American Beauty was so Spacey could out himself for his own reasons then you don’t know film.
On the whole is a big disappointment and I can’t really recommended you go on with the series after the first two. The cliffhanger is more Dallas than The West Wing and I am not left gagging for more. It’s a bit like Prison Break 2 where they brothers are out and have played their ingenious plan to escape and now running around aimlessly in tight shirts trying to drag out yet more box sets. Even the great Breaking bad stretched four into and unneeded six box sets.
Imdb.com – 9.0/10.0 (345,214) votes
Rottentomatos.com – 77% critic’s approval
Metacritic.com – 76% critic’s approval
The Mail –‘Whatever your takeaway, the performances of Spacey and Wright remain assured and now ingrained in a series that ranks as one of the best body politic drama ever’.
New York Post –‘Spacey plays Underwood with his usual unctuous aplomb, and Claire’s crazy controlled persona is on full display, but with private moments of longing and neediness that are wonderful to behold’.
Cleveland Times –‘While the political dynamics have changed greatly, House of Cards remains an addictive mixture of over-the-top soap opera, wicked dark comedy and sly melodrama’.
The Memphis Bugle –‘When I first started watching house of cards, season 1 and 2 were absolutely captivating for me. I was watching 4 or 5 episodes well in to the night. Season 3 however, just did not have that same power to hook me as the first’.
The Mirror –‘The show has dispensed with a lot of the real-world elements that made it so coldly compelling.... On the other hand, though, that purging of minor characters is setting the stage for a bigger drama entirely: the showdown between Claire and Frank.... It is a satisfying’.
The Hollywood reporter –‘ After all the cream-puff politicians and supposedly brilliant strategists that the Underwoods have fooled all too easily in the first two seasons, a little payback and a little failure plays well for House of Cards’.
The New York Times –‘ Without Zoe Barnes, prostitutes, corrupt lobbyists and dissipated members of Congress to perk up the landscape as in seasons past, the show feels monotonous. It certainly looks it’.
Never having experiencing other channels except English channels I was quite suprised with this Irish Channel with its different range of programming. The picture quality and sound are quite good although I think they could be better. A typical nights viewing ranges from all mixed up a good quiz show, dot what a technology programme, Fair city a soap opera and not forgetting Pat Kenny in the Late Late show. You may also catch some concerts I have seen one from the Corrs and Danny O Donald. It’s an experience well worth a look at just to see what other cultures are watching.