In an attempt to be less dramatic and more positive, I think it’s best to focus on those things that are positive.
Believe it or not, I’ve not seen Netflix’s House of Cards. Well, wait – that’s not quite true. You see, I’ve seen the first two or three episodes of it, and that shouldn’t really count as “seeing it,” as far as I’m concerned. It’s something that I’m hoping to rectify soon.
I’ve have to confess that I wasn’t interested in seeing what little I did. I remember the original British House of Cards, and thought that it was a masterpiece that could never be duplicated. Not without a lot of Americanisms, which I felt (at the time) would not work with that type of story. I honestly can’t say what was going through my mind so many years ago when the original premiered; I just know that I remember being very adamant that this was one program that Hollywood should definitely leave alone.
I think part of that anti-Hollywood attitude towards British programs was due to a rumor that an American version of Prime Suspect, a gritty British police procedural which starred Helen Mirren, was in the works – and would star Barbara Streisand. Think about that for a minute. If you’ve ever seen the original Prime Suspect (and I strongly suggest that you do if you haven’t), then you can probably imagine just how bizarre the rumor seemed. My attitude was that if Hollywood wouldn’t respect its source material, then I wanted Hollywood to leave the “good stuff” be. Gee-whiz, make up something new that no one cares about. Can’t be that hard, seeing how they do it every year!
Anyway, Ian Richardson is excellent as the Member of Parliament-now-Prime Minister Francis Urquhart who reeks havoc after he’s passed over for his dream appointment. It was dark satire and real life rolled into one, and at its release, a very timely look at the post-Margaret Thatcher era of British politics. After rising to the top in the first film, Urquhart finds his primacy challenged by a Prince Charles-like heir who becomes the next king of England. He also has to deal with betrayal within his own camp – someone knows Urquhart’s “dirty little secrets” and has an agenda of their own. A final film completes the series. The Prime Minister has leveled all of his foes, only to realize that his most destructive enemy is himself. This is about as safe as I can be in describing the series without exposing key elements of the plot. It’s excellently acted from start to finish – a glimpse into the world of a manipulative master politician.
I was a fan of Kevin Spacey’s throughout much of the 1990s, with his performances in The Usual Suspects, LA Confidential, and Glengarry Glen Ross, and I still think he’s a fabulous performer. But years ago, a then-friend of mine saw Spacey perform in London on the stage – I forget the play – and, being a big fan, she waited in hopes that she could catch him for an autograph. According to her, he refused and walked off, and it was clear that this one minute of interaction did not leave a good taste in her mouth. For whatever reason, her recounting of the incident left a bad taste for me, now, too – and my respect for the actor began to decline. Call it a sympathy reaction.
So it was with a bit of reluctance that I found myself actually watching the first episode of House of Cards. I figured I’d give it a shot so that I could say that I’d seen it – and found myself surprisingly hooked. Spacey’s performance was key, but it brought back a lot of memories of wanting to enter politics when I was younger. And the soundtrack is interesting, to say the least. I’m intrigued. I’m going to try to make time this weekend to watch a bit more. Maybe not binge-watch, but definitely see more of Spacey’s character development.