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On the box

18 Mar 2014

Despite falling into the almost passé category of a high-profile TV show filled with even higher-profile film actors, House of Cards fails to disappoint.

Kevin Spacey leads an accomplished cast through this dense political thriller drama.

Immediately, it’s almost expected of me to make a comparison to another high profile political drama, but this is not the West Wing.  If anything, after seeing Spacey command your attention as the truly evil Frank Underwood, you’ll be calling out for the warm and fuzzy Martin Sheen to make you feel better.

Frank Underwood’s story of the back dealings of Washington DC is delivered at break-neck pace that contrasts with its thick political subject matter. This is occasionally broken up by Underwood’s breaking of the fourth wall to address the audience directly – almost as if to remind you that it’s definitely “his” show.  

Spacey’s Underwood is a truly menacing villain, whose obsession with power drives his ambition to rise up the political ranks. Frank Underwood is a calculating and despicable senator, who manages to always have the upper hand over his enemies.

House of Cards tells a story of a political system rife with the taint of corruption, with every move seemingly having little to do with party politics and more to do with personal agenda and profit.

Underwood has pawns on both sides of politics and his ruthlessness is hidden underneath his charm and southern accent. Frank’s manipulation of the other characters in the show is so absolute, that it makes the interesting point in showing that the real power in politics doesn’t always sit in the oval office.

Kevin Spacey is definitely a dominant force in the program but he is supported brilliantly by Robin Wright who plays Frank’s wife Claire. Claire is an equally toxic foil who carries the tradition of calculating villainesses in the vein of Lady Macbeth. Claire is the perfect partner to Frank, as both are obsessed with their schemes and desires and openly plot Frank’s rise together.

House of Cards is compelling television. The dark themes of corruption, deception and disloyalty are so extensive that through the run of the show, it seems as if none of the main characters are the typical “good guys” – in Frank’s world, everyone is trying to get ahead and serve their own interests, by any means.

One of the things that sets House of Cards apart from a lot of the other shows that are out there at the moment, is the level to which it is been intricately created. From scripting to set design, House of Cards could easily pass off as a series of films that have been broken down into hour-long portions.

House of Cards is definitely worth a look, currently in its second season, it can be found on Foxtel’s “on demand” service.

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