Friday, February 08, 2013

Netflix, Kevin Spacey and David Fincher: "House of Cards": That's what Washington is

I watched episode 1 of Netflix’s own “House of Cards” political drama series by Beau Willimon, with David Fincher and Kevin Spacey among the executive producers.

Kevin Spacey leads as Francis Underwood (why not “Frankie”?), US Congressman from South Carolina and Democratic whip.   His wife Claire (Robin Wright) runs a non-profit connected to Frankie’s political shenanigans.  Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) is another Democrat from Pennsylvania, who acts as an ally, and Garrett Walker (Michael Gill) is getting inaugurated as a Democratic president.

Frankie learns that he won’t get the appointment to a cabinet appointment that he had coveted, and pretty soon his loyalty is fractured.  His wife decides that she needs to fire half the staff of her non-profit for political reasons – the scene with the office manager is quite telling as to the “values” of non-profit solidarity.  A reporter (Kate Mara), a reporter for the “Washington Insider” wants to deal illegally for scoops.  (This isn’t an allusion to the right wing “The Washington Times” is it?)  Peter gets stopped by a DC cop for DWI, and Peter acts like this is a game of “Shear Madness”.

I have a trouble with the idea of being committed to a long political series like this (supposedly priced at $100 million), although I used to watch “The West Wing” a lot.  Fincher says that he prefers the mini-series format for material like this because it gives him time to build his material gradually.  But are there any real stakes here?

I also have a problem with the “reality” of any series with a fictitious president.  The earliest time this series could take place is 2016.

Netflix instant play subscribers can watch the episodes (all 13 were made available on February 1) at any time.

Note: My Netflix records say that I watched Episode 2, but I think it was the Pilot. 

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