Written by / 2/11/2015 / No comments / , , ,

BEGINNING A BELATED BINGE ON HOUSE OF CARDS: CHAPTER ONE

2013  rating: ****
Who would have thought Secretary of State was that important? Well for Kevin Spacey’s Francis Underwood, a Congress Whip for the House Majority who more than helped get the President Elect elected in the first place, it’s just about everything. When he gets pushed aside for the coveted position, we’re catapulted into a cerebral revenge-driven original Netflix series that, judging by the David Fincher directed pilot already seen and beloved by millions, HOUSE OF CARDS could make an entertaining ride for this Pop Culture Fanatic desperately in need for some serialized escapism…

And it isn’t the first time an established movie actor, much less a two time Oscar winner, is “downgraded” from movies to television – those days are over. The quality of cable TV shows have actually trumped what we overpay for on the big screen. It’s no wonder people usually only flock to particular features based on comic book or teen novel sagas. And what used to be theatrical quality writing is now experienced inside the living room…

For instance, Quentin Tarantino hasn’t done anything that comes close to Vince Gilligan’s BREAKING BAD since… well… the nineties. And yet, without QT’s inspiration, BAD (or LOST or a handful of others) might not have been so good… At least not without the non-linear approach wielding a groovy hybrid of ultraviolence, twisted dark comedy and a retro soundtrack. And all the George Clooneys in the world, attempting to rebuild the Robert Redford 1970's political thriller template, can't come close to even this first hour of HOUSE OF CARDS wherein Kevin Spacey’s performance is more subtle than melodramatic, and shockingly non-polarizing...

Bitch killed ORANGE
Whether manipulating those around him, or narrating the twists and turns directly to the audience (like Woody Allen, Ferris Beuller... or before them, Sally Field's Gidget), the talented cast falls nicely under his formidable shadow and hypnotic spell: including an injured dog, the white rabbit of the series. Particularly intriguing is Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, a persistent blogger who, along with a few others, quickly becomes a puppet to the master’s string-pulling genius. And that genius took an intense actor like Spacey to bring to life – without trying very hard. The good ones make the most complicated roles seem all too easy.

So it’s a breath of fresh air to discover this show after having fallen prey to the woman-in-prison drama/comedy ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, which began splendidly. But since the side-characters took over the ship (especially that annoying brown-toothed tweaker zealot), the eclectic ensemble has completely imploded upon itself, pushing the two best players (Piper and Alex) into a benign backseat. Thus, like Eugine's ruse in THE WALKING DEAD, for the time being Washington D.C. holds the only cure. OVERALL RANK FOR HOUSE OF CARDS CHAPTER ONE: Jedi, Rebel, Droid, Sith...
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