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One night I happened to be channel surfing looking for the next sci-fi, action, horror thriller when I happened upon PBS's broadcast of the BBC's "House of Cards." I put down the remote for a good 4 hours because what I was experiencing was something truly special. "House of Cards", of course, does not have aliens or chainsaw wielding maniacs. "HOC"'s monster is instead someone frightfully believable. Thanks to Ian Richardson's amazing performance, one can believe such a monster exists and can become PM or President. I won't beat the Shakespeare comparison horse (other users have done so and you can read their comments) but Mrs. Urquhart could easily hold her own in a series focused solely on her. Indeed, all of the characters are well-written and not dumbed-down to the viewer. If only American TV had the guts to produce something like "House of Cards" and let it end instead of dragging it on forever like the American version of "Queer as Folk." That aside, Dobbs and Davis have written a nice tidy political thriller which made me hunt down the DVD years after I saw the TV showing and made me recommend the trilogy to all my friends. I say give "House of Cards" and the sequels a try. Your remote and your intellect will thank you for it.
This is no doubt one of the best TV drama serials I've ever seen. I got
it on DVD and it was so well-done that I saw the first installment
(House of Cards) during one night, and the following two installments
(To Play the King and The Final Cut) the following two nights. I just
could not stop watching it until it was finished. It is very
suspenseful, in addition to being intelligent, revealing, and I must
say quite cynical. It is based on the book of the same title by Michael
Dobbs, who has been a political insider and was at one point Deputy
Chairman of the Conservative Party. He clearly knows the kinds of
things that can happen in the highest echelons of power.
If one is to choose the single best thing in the serial, it is no doubt the performance by Ian Richardson. He is a highly capable and versatile actor and this may well be his best performance. It is really priceless to hear him saying "You might very well say that, I couldn't possibly comment" throughout the series. All the other actors are excellent, the screenplay is of the highest quality, and the whole production is exceptional.
"House of Cards" is an entertaining and frightening tale. Ian Richardson,
playing the intelligent and ruthless Francis Urquhart, immediately draws the
viewer into the tale with his wry comments to the camera, discreet
confidences just between the two of you, and compels you to accompany him as
the tale moves from an amusing political fantasy to something altogether
The writing and acting is spot on (I must give kudos to Susannah Harker whose fine performance as Mattie Storin has, I think, been overlooked by many viewers), and the pace of the show doesn't slow until the final, shocking end.
I am constantly recommending "House of Cards" to friends, to the point of hosting viewing parties at my place every few months, and I'm not tired of watching it, yet! :) I find that anyone who enjoys such pieces as "I, Claudius" or any other involuted, political drama, will enjoy "House of Cards".
This film is excellent (10+ stars).
The characters are well cast. All the acting is excellent (there is not a bad actor in it, all are good). The directing, and especially script writing is well done (excellent).
The film drags you in so that at the end of the hour of each episode you would crawl naked across poison ivy just to watch the next episode. Although at first it may seem unusual that he talks to you; you will soon grow to love it!
With a devious wife, a brilliant affair and a whole crew of supporting actors this movie deserves awards!
I found the series at Best Buy (House of Cards, To Play the King and The Final Cut) all packaged together. I was really excited, because I think this is one of the best to come from the BBC. Ian Richardson was superb. Wicked and cunning. I watched the first installment the other night and was glued to my chair for 4 hours. I highly recommend this series.
This is without any doubt the best political thriller I have so far seen. Not only does everything seem so chillingly possible, I also think the actors are great, especially Ian Richardson. What I liked best was the end - it is different than the ending in Michael Dobbs' book. One should of course despise Francis Urquart, but his charm makes that very difficult. House of Cards is a must!
I'm a sucker for both British television and political thrillers in
general. So having heard much about this miniseries, the first of a
trilogy of miniseries's, I have been looking forward to seeing this for
some time. Having seen it, I found that my expectations have not only
been reached but surpassed as well. House Of Cards is one of the finest
examples of the political thriller that you are likely to see anywhere.
If there is any single element that makes this miniseries as much of a success as it is, it is lead character, Francis Urquhart as played by actor Ian Richardson. Richardson plays Urquhart as a modern day (modern day being an alternate version of late 1980's or early 1990's UK) version of Shakespeare's Richard III. Urquhart is a man who,as the Chief Whip who feels unappreciated by the Prime Minister he helped to elect, sets out to bring down the Prime Minister, and then take the job of for himself. Like Richard III, Urquhart does this by laying out traps, rumors and blackmail while all the while delivering soliloquies to the audience relaying them to us the viewer. For all intents and purposes, Urquhart is a man we should hate as he does all of those things. Yet it is Richardson makes this work incredibly well and makes Urquhart a man who is ruthless yet immensely charming and likable nonetheless. It is a compliment to Richardson and his skills that he can make it all work, especially the soliloquies, while being evil yet charming all at the same time.
Backing Richardson is a fine supporting cast as well. There's Diane Fletcher as Urquhart's wife who, like Lady Macbeth, pushed her husband and his plans along which makes her a character that is almost as fascinating as her husband. There's Susannah Harker as the young, attractive reporter Mattie Storin who begins using Urquhart as a source before they start going in a dangerous direction which leads to an incredible finale. There's Miles Anderson as Roger O'Neill and Alphonsia Emmanuel as his girlfriend Penny Guy who both end up snared by Urquhart's traps and end up victims of that. There's Colin Jeavons as Urquhart's protégé Tim Stamper who has a marvelously sleazy feel to him. Last but not least there's David Lyon as the targeted Prime Minister Henry Collingridge and James Villiers as his brother Charles, who end's up being part of Urquhart's plans. Theses are only a few of those amongst others in what is a fine cast backing a great leading man.
House Of Cards is also blessed with fine production values as well. There's some fine production design by Ken Ledsham who creates the worlds ranging from the Houses of Parliament, 10 Downing Street, press rooms and beyond. There's the cinematography of Jim Fyans and Ian Punter which brings a fine sense of atmosphere and shadows to the world of the miniseries. There's also the music by Jim Parker, especially with the main title and end title pieces which serve as a perfect start and closing to the four episodes of the miniseries. All of this, under the direction of Paul Seed, makes for some fine production values to the miniseries.
Last but not least is the script. Andrew Davies adapts Michael Dobbs novel into a fine political thriller about the effect of power on one man and how far he will go to gain power. There is a definite Richard III vibe running throughout the entire miniseries as Urquhart decides to seize power and begins to lay plans to do so. As a consequence, the plot can get fairly complex at time with Urquhart playing numerous plans at once which will require the viewer to pay just a bit more then perhaps they usually would. Also, Davies knows how to write fine dialogue especially for Urquhart including the famous line "You may think that, but I couldn't possibly comment." The script never fails to deliver right up to the shocking finale.
House Of Cards is a fine example of what the political thriller can be. From the performance of Ian Richardson as Urquhart, the performances of the supporting cast, good production values and a fantastic script as well. It is a complex story with a complex protagonist that takes a look at power and its ability to corrupt and how far one will go to achieve it and is a fine one at that.
"The House of Cards", based on a novel by Michael Dobbs, is a television
series that is based upon one character's use, abuse and manipulation of
political system to achieve his own political goals.
Ian Richardson's performance as the malevolent Francis Urquaht is outstanding and the standards of acting in this series are upheld by Susannah Harker and Diane Fletcher.
This series of political intrigue and deception is an excellent one and I wouldn't recommend missing an episode.
That is one of the many great quotes from this film. Ian Richardson
plays the character of Francis Urquhart for all it's worth, and the
rest of the supporting cast is quite stellar. Paul Seed does a
competent job of the direction, and has a good talent for photographing
The way the Francis frequently comments (breaking the 3rd wall so to speak) encourages viewer participation, and I found myself agreeing with him, or even yelling at him during the course of the film.
If it ever comes on television, do yourself a favor and watch this one. It is long (clocks in at about 4 hours, 1 hour per episode), but it's certainly worth your while. I'm eagerly looking forward to the next part in the series, "To Play the King", which I've heard is just as good.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Attention: spoilers ahead...
FU is definitively the greatest villain ever. If you think of him as such, anyway. Ian Richardson himself deserves a Knighthood for this work of art! When I watched the whole trilogy I found myself looking at FU as a modern-day Rasputin: mysterious, women can't resist his appeal, his fate is similar (assassinated) and he was able to climb the ladders of power, assuming complete control of his position.
And for those who can compare them, this trilogy is far better, in my view, than 'The Godfather' and even 'Once Upon a Time In America'. I've never seen anything quite like this, really...it gives you a completely realistic perspective on corruption and/or corrupted politics, and each scheme set by FU is itself worth watching. There's also some dark British humour in all this, which is absolutely delightful and prevents the episodes from being boring. And it introduces beautifully the ultimate 'participative narration', as FU makes the viewer the only person he can ever trust. If you've seen it, you know what I'm talking about. If not, go see it right away.
I could write about this forever. But I'd rather not :] I'm looking forward to read the books, and I rate the whole trilogy 10 stars. And is it really worth 10 stars? 'You might very well think that...I couldn't possibly comment.'
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