#REVIEW: “HOUSE OF CARDS” (SEASON ONE)
Although 2013 has only just begun, Netflix Series House of Cards sure has raised the bar way high for any other Drama Series hoping to make its debut this year. Based upon the BBC Series of the same name, the first season of House of Cards was released in its complete 13-episode entirety at once, an unprecedented move which both is amazing and admittedly a bit frustrating for Fans who feel as though they’ve been served Dessert first, now on a low from the euphoric Sugar Crash. Confident in its success, Netflix already has green-lit a second season and really, it couldn’t come any sooner.
At the center of it all is Congressman Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who is passed on an opportunity to become Secretary of State, despite an arrangement being made prior with the President (Michael Gill). Together with his fabulously coiffed Wife and Confidante Claire (Robin Wright), they plot ruthlessly to take the President down, using and disposing of Political Pawns one by one en route to their end goal becoming President and First Lady of the United States. Their love by no means is as expressive say, as that of Barack and Michelle‘s, but they completely are in unison, in sync when it comes to what it is they want most. It is this passion which reinforces their love for one another, even if it sometimes means the goals of Claire‘s Non-Profit Water Organization being derailed for the sake of the greater goal for both her and her Husband. We learn she too may have a distraction or two of her own, making that end goal a real challenge.
Brought into the equation are troubled Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll), a Man of many vices, perceived widely as an Underachiever in the Political landscape. Even more unlikely is a young Political Reporter Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), struggling to make a name for herself amidst all the Bureaucracy at The Washington Herald. She muscles her way to Frank by force and matters become complicated the closer she gets to him. Frank gives her unprecedented access to information, catapulting her to the limelight much to the chagrin of her more seasoned and suspicious Colleagues. In turn, she is willing to sacrifice everything for the sake of her advancement, soon learning why it is wise not to mix business with pleasure.
What makes House of Cards remarkable is not only the A-Game delivery of its immensely-talented Cast, but it also is its Storytelling of the highest caliber. Visionary Directors David Fincher and Joel Schumacher enable us to know the Players of the Game as real individuals with high-level insight into their complex struggles. There is nobody here without a flaw, and that makes these Characters oh so multi-dimensional and full of intrigue. As bloody heartless as Frank Underwood truly is, we never question that he truly is convinced his actions are for the greater good. After witnessing the corruption in his World, he just might well be justified in doing what he does.
That being said, Spacey has not shown this level of gumption in quite some time and it would be an absolute pity if rules and guidelines for Awards Season weren’t updated to reflect the game-changing presence of Internet-based Television. His Shakespearean Soliloquies are delicious and we realize soon that only Kevin Spacey truly could play this role. Wright at long last gets the meaty role we all knew she was deserving of, her slow-burning coolness lingering like a potent Mint long after your Streaming Device is turned-off. Mara after having been in the shadows of Big Sis Rooney, places herself front and center here – a real revelation in all her daringness. Stoll sizzles, irresistible as a Bad Boy on-the-mend in his grueling battle with personal demons. Supporting turns also from Michael Kelly as Frank‘s unwavering Right-Hand Man and Kristen Connolly as Peter‘s Secret Lover are solid and impactful.
House of Cards Season One is available now on Netflix Canada. Think: the Betrayal of Mean Girls, the Intensity of Homeland and the Stylization of Mad Men. Preview the first episode in full right here.