Are you watching House of Cards on Netflix? Because I’m not. Well, not ACTIVELY, I suppose. See, I watched the first two episodes, and for some reason—I’m just not FEELING it, and I’m not entirely sure why.
The acting is impeccable. Kevin Spacey stars as Francis “Frank” Underwood, chicken-fried Democratic congressman and House Majority Whip. He’s ruthless and dedicated and all of the things a complex political character should be. His wife is a cool, calculated environmental activist played by Robin Wright. Rising beauty Kate Mara is Zoe Barnes, a greenhorn Washington Herald reporter whose inexperience has nothing to do with naivety; she only needs a source, who she finds in Underwood. He’s totally pissed off because he was passed over for the Secretary of State position that he was promised, and, much like the morning plate of ribs he devours at the end of the first episode, he commits himself to methodically dismantling those who have wronged him.
Deceit! Betrayal! Morning BBQ!
These are all things that make for interesting viewing, but in spite of this—and the aforementioned outstanding acting—it’s just not doing it for me.
Perhaps my brain is rotted from years of Nintendo and obnoxiously flavored Mountain Dew, but the first two episodes (DESPITE being directed by the oft-thrilling David Fincher) alternate between sluggishness and hyperactivity. A lot of shows suffer from this, really, so in the regard, HOC is not alone. One minute, Underwood is contemplatively smoking a cigarette at the window in his townhome, planning his power-moves under the DC moon, and the next, there’s a press conference where everyone is screaming things, machine-gun style, and I’m struggling to keep up.
There’s a rogue congressman (?) doing blow with a former high-school reporter in order to glean info about the would-be Secretary of State and a drunken driving arrest and a bunch of smelly interns writing an education-reform proposal with light jokes about their growing odor and plenty of real life talking heads! making cameos and is Robin Wright a TOTAL bitch, or just a shrewd, effective business woman, because I can’t tell? Oh, and, spoiler alert—Kevin Spacey talks directly to the camera a lot and smirks knowingly and within the first three minutes of the pilot episode, he breaks a dog’s neck to end its suffering after it gets hit by a car. (That’s how we know he “takes care of business.” This is called “character development” in the “biz.”)
So it’s a busy show, but also really, really boring at times.
I’m going to give it another episode or two, though, mostly because I’m tired of hearing “OMG DID YOU WATCH HOUSE OF CARDS?!” and having to explain, “well… I watched the FIRST two episodes,” and then, “WHY DID YOU STOP THERE?” and then me shrugging and walking away. See, there’s no excuse of “well, I’m just not caught up yet,” because this isn’t Breaking Bad with last week’s episode languishing in your DVR queue; in a slightly unorthodox move, the Netflix original series released all 13 episodes of the first season at once. This is perfect for binge-series watchers—a breed of television viewer born within the past few years BECAUSE of services like Netflix—and I think it’s a pretty interesting move. I myself prefer to watch no more than a couple in a row, partly because of my attention span issues and partly because I like to savor the goodness. (That said, if Netflix treats Arrested Development in the same bulk-release manner this May, I’ll probably be completely incommunicado for a full weekend.)
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