Rohan Morbey reviews the first season of Netflix’s political drama series House of Cards…
Forget the fact that Netflix has released all 13 episodes of their US remake of the British show House of Cards all at once rather than the traditional one-per-week – the question is should you watch it? The answer is yes, but it’s not must-see television (should that be ‘must-see streaming’?) and doesn’t make me wish for every other show to be available on-demand either.
Without giving an in-depth review of each episode and storyline, House of Cards is about Congressman Francis J. Underwood (Kevin Spacey), who plots his way to becoming the Vice President after being overlooked for Secretary of State and he doesn’t care who he has to use, step on, sabotage or destroy to get what he wants.
Overall, the show is good and is always watchable but never anything out of the ordinary; we’ve seen crooked politicians and cheaters in positions of power plenty of times before on both film and TV – and in real life too – and this show doesn’t add much more to what you may have seen before. This isn’t a commentary on the show’s production values as they are excellent throughout, but perhaps they are deserving of something more important or cutting edge than these 13 episodes.
The show is partly produced by David Fincher which gives the show gravitas during the title sequence and can be seen throughout the 13 episodes; the pallet is dark, grey and green, and is without hardly any humour or comic relief. Moreover, Fincher directs the first two episodes which look far too similar to his feature film work (the trademark angles, the cinematography) to work as a made-for-TV production, whereas the following 11 episodes take their cues from what Fincher had established but look far more suited to television in terms of how they are shot. The directors of these episodes include James Foley (Glengarry Glen Ross) and Joel Schumacher (Batman Forever, Tigerland) who, although not in the same echelons as Fincher, are still competent film directors with some great work to their name.
There will be a second season to House of Cards which comes as no surprise. I think the show would have worked better if it were just the one-off season and developed a tighter story with more at stake and less room for the overriding feeling of having seen it all before.