'House of Cards' a revelation, the future of entertainment
When Robin Wright steps onto the screen in a little white dress, her frosty blond hair clipped short and as controlled as her tight, dead smile, I swear the temperature in the room drops 10 degrees.
She is just one member of the amazing cast of Netflix's thrilling series "House of Cards." She is Claire Underwood, the Lady MacBeth to Kevin Spacey's crooked Majority Whip Frank Underwood.
No fiber of the warm and noble Princess Bride remains. Here is no princess. Here is the ice queen she was born to play.
So much about this series caught me by surprise. Suddenly Kevin Spacey is cool again, a usual suspect kind of cool rather than a Pay It Forward disappointment. Netflix is a place for original entertainment rather than just a dumping ground for canceled series and old movies. Washington politics are dangerous, dark and sexy here and somehow whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, the show appeals just the same.
Spacey plays a middle-aged man who craves only one thing -- power. Money is just a tool for gaining it. As a prominent member of the majority party in U.S. Congress, he has power, but he wants more.
He and Claire are full partners in a scheme to put him in control. Everything they do from working the press, other politicians and lobbyists serves their big picture objectives, ones they stew over during late night sessions smoking by their townhouse window.
The pawns on their board include Zoe Barnes, an ambitious journalist frustrated by the slowness of her newspaper's move into the 21st century. She is played with brilliant cynicism by Kate Mara. As a newspaper man, I didn't really agree with this dark depiction of the newspaper industry. In real life, most journalists carry seeds of idealism under their jaded black overcoats, but this show is much more fun as a soapy guilty pleasure than it would be as a true-to-life depiction.
Corey Stoll plays weak, flawed, tragically likeable Rep. Peter Russo. He's a complex character in this. He's a warmhearted dad whose constituents grew up with him on tough streets. He's as comfortable throwing punches with the boys in the bar as he is talking politics on the hill. Unfortunately, he can't quite say no to hookers and booze. Throughout this season, you will see he stands at the crossroads between epic success and utter disaster.
The whole show was released at once on Netflix. You can watch it one episode per week, theoretically, but everyone I know who tried it ended up burning through the whole season in less time than it takes to read a "Hunger Games" paperback.
This is how people consume entertainment these days. Even like seven years ago, I would rent entire seasons of Lost or Battlestar Galactica and watch them over the course of a weekend. The problem, however, is what to do while waiting for the next big thing.
I'm beside myself waiting for the next episode of Walking Dead or for Breaking Bad to come back from hiatus. For that matter, I can't wait for the next season of House of Cards.
Check it out, but one last piece of advice: have a plate of ribs ready to eat while you watch.
Dan's Grade: A