I think about a world to come where the books were found by the golden ones, written in pain, written in awe by a puzzled man who questioned, "What are we here for?" All the strangers came today and it looks as though they're here to stay.

-David Bowie "Oh! You Pretty Things"

Friday, February 8, 2013

House of Cards S01E01: "Chapter 1"

Frank Underwood is the House Majority Whip and architect of the president's recent successful election strategy, two facts that should clinch him an appointment to Secretary of State. In fact, this cabinet position was promised to Frank when he put his name in support of the president. House of Cards follows the drama that unfolds when Frank's victorious colleagues deny him what is rightfully his and Frank decides to dedicate his devious political prowess to vengeance against those who wronged him.

By episode one, I can already tell that this is some of Spacey's best work in years. He is multifaceted and downright frightening like he was in the Usual Suspects. He is matter-of-fact, sarcastic and somewhat conceited like in American Beauty. He acts, he reacts, he narrates, and if he doesn't win awards, I will be incredibly surprised. The supporting cast does their job, but nobody is stealing the spotlight from Spacey. Perhaps this is because of his brilliance, and perhaps it has more to do with his character's need to be vindicated. I originally thought Spacey talking to the camera like he was Zack on Saved by the Bell or Wayne in Wayne's World was weak and it underestimated the intelligence of the viewers, but now I believe that there is no other way to deliver the complexity of Spacey's character on the screen.

The big talk about House of Cards is that Netflix invested mounds of money in this series. The money was invested wisely, at least in terms of artistic value: House of Cards is written, directed and acted superbly. The series gives credit to a hypothesis that I have been developing that subscription services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are going to be the future refuge of well-written scripted television. Of course, two things remain to be seen, whether Netflix can make back at least as much money as they have put into this original series, and whether their risky move of releasing the entire first season of House of Cards at once will sit well with viewers. I will have to admit that the only negative I could think of in regards to this new series was that it feels weird not having a new episode each week, but like the many changes to Facebook that everyone always complains about, I think I will get used to it.

What I look forward to in House of Cards is how Frank Underwood is able to get revenge on the highest ranking members of his party without jeopardizing his party, his personal beliefs, the good of the people, and his soul in the process. Since the entire first season is already out, I'm sure there are those of you out there who already know that answer. For the sake of the rest of us, keep it to yourself.

I've syndicated this review at Examiner. You can read it here. If you click on it a few times, spend some time there, or navigate to a new page, I might get some money. But I'm only asking that of you if you liked reading the article here and want to show your appreciation.


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