House of Cards (U.S. TV series)
|House of Cards|
|Developed by||Beau Willimon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||between 46-56 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Media Rights Capital|
|Picture format||1080p (HDTV), Univisium (2:1 Aspect)|
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original run||February 1, 2013– present|
|Related shows||House of Cards|
House of Cards is an American political drama series developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC miniseries of the same name which is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs. The entire first season premiered on February 1, 2013, on the streaming service Netflix. A second season of 13 episodes is currently in production.
Set in present day Washington, D.C., House of Cards is the story of Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey), a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and the House Majority Whip, who after getting passed over for appointment to Secretary of State, decides to exact his revenge on those who betrayed him. The series also stars Robin Wright, Kate Mara, and Corey Stoll in lead roles.
Cast and characters 
Main cast 
- Kevin Spacey as U.S. Representative Francis "Frank" J. Underwood, a graduate of the fictional school "The Sentinel" (which is made to strongly resemble the real life school The Citadel, a military college) and Harvard Law School, a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th congressional district and the House Majority Whip. He often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the viewer. His name is derived from The Right Honourable Francis Urquhart MP, the protagonist of the BBC version and the novel version of House of Cards. Morally speaking, Underwood does not have limits and is capable of committing homicide.
- Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, Francis' wife. She runs the Clean Water Initiative, a non-profit that often gets mixed up in Frank's political scheming.
- Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, a reporter for The Washington Herald (later Slugline). Desperate for a break, she makes a deal with Frank for insider information.
- Corey Stoll as U.S. Representative Peter Russo, a Democrat from Pennsylvania's 1st congressional district. Russo becomes loyal to Underwood after Underwood threatens to expose his alcohol and drug addiction. He is eventually murdered to prevent his knowledge becoming public.
- Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper, Underwood's Chief of Staff, abettor and confidant.
- Sakina Jaffrey as Linda Vasquez, the President's newly-appointed White House Chief of Staff.
- Kristen Connolly as Christina Gallagher, a headstrong congressional staffer involved in a secret relationship with Peter Russo.
- Constance Zimmer as Janine Skorsky, a reporter for The Washington Herald (later Slugline) who becomes suspicious of Zoe's success.
- Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas Goodwin, an editor at The Washington Herald.
Recurring cast 
- Sandrine Holt as Gillian Cole, the leader of a grass-roots organization called World Well that provides clean water to developing countries. Through the Clean Water Initiative, she grapples with Frank and Claire's interests.
- Michael Gill as Garrett Walker, the President and former Senator from California. He increasingly relies on and trusts Underwood.
- Dan Ziskie as Jim Matthews, the Vice President and former Governor of Pennsylvania.
- Ben Daniels as Adam Galloway, a photographer who is living in New York City, Claire's lover.
- Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, a member of the U.S. Capitol Police and Underwood's bodyguard and driver.
- Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton, works as a lobbyist for a natural gas company, having previously worked for Underwood.
- Reg E. Cathey as Freddy, the owner of Freddy's BBQ, an eatery frequented by Underwood.
- Jayne Atkinson as Secretary of State Catherine Durant and former Senator from Missouri.
- Kevin Kilner as Michael Kern, the President's original choice for the position of Secretary of State.
- Boris McGiver as Tom Hammerschmidt, editor-in-chief for The Washington Herald.
- Lance E. Nichols as Gene Clancy, the mayor of Gaffney, South Carolina.
- Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner, a former prostitute dragged into Underwood's plans by Doug Stamper.
- Gerald McRaney as Raymond Tusk, a wealthy businessman who runs a nuclear energy company.
- Al Sapienza as Marty Spinella, a union lobbyist.
Real-life media figures such as Donna Brazile, CNN's Candy Crowley, CNN's John King, Fox News Dennis Miller, CNN's Soledad O'Brien, HBO's Bill Maher and ABC's George Stephanopoulos make cameo appearances as themselves.
Independent studio Media Rights Capital, founded by Mordecai Wiczyk and Asif Satchu, producer of films such as Babel, purchased the rights to House of Cards with the intent of creating a series. While finishing production on his 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, David Fincher's agent showed him House of Cards, a BBC miniseries starring Ian Richardson. Fincher was interested in producing a potential series with Eric Roth. He said that he was interested in doing television because of its long-form nature, adding that working in film doesn't allow for complex characterizations the way that television allows. "I felt for the past ten years that the best writing that was happening for actors was happening in television. And so I had been looking to do something that was longer form," Fincher stated.
MRC approached different networks about the series, including HBO, Showtime and AMC, but Netflix, hoping to launch its own original programming, outbid the other networks. Ted Sarandos, Netflix's Chief Content Officer, looked at the data of Netflix user's streaming habits and concluded that there was an audience for Fincher and Spacey. "It looked incredibly promising," he said, "kind of the perfect storm of material and talent." In finding a writer to adapt the series, Fincher stated that they needed someone who could faithfully translate parliamentary politics to Washington." Beau Willimon was hired and completed the pilot script in early 2011. Willimon saw the opportunity to create an entirely new series from the original and deepen its overall story.
The project was first announced in March 2011, with Kevin Spacey attached to star and serve as an executive producer. Fincher was announced as director for the first two episodes, from scripts by Willimon. Netflix ordered 26 episodes to air over two seasons. Spacey called Netflix’s model of dropping all episodes at once a "new perspective." He added that Netflix's commitment to two full seasons gave the series greater continuity. "We know exactly where we are going," he said.
Fincher stated that every main cast member was their first choice. In the first read through, he said "I want everybody here to know that you represent our first choice — each actor here represents our first choice for these characters. So do not fuck this up." Spacey, whose last regular television role was in the series Wiseguy, responded positively to the script. He then played Richard III, which Fincher said was "great training." Spacey supported the decision to release all of the episodes at once, believing that this type of release pattern will be increasingly common with television shows. He said, "When I ask my friends what they did with their weekend, they say, 'Oh, I stayed in and watched three seasons of Breaking Bad or it's two seasons of Game of Thrones." He was officially cast on March 18, 2011. Robin Wright was approached by Fincher to star in the series when they worked together in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. She was cast as Claire Underwood in June 2011. Kate Mara was cast as Zoe Barnes in early February 2012. Mara's sister, Rooney, worked with Fincher in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and when Kate Mara read the part of Zoe, she "fell in love with the character" and asked her sister to "put in a word for me with Fincher." The next month, she got a call for an audition.
Season one (2013) 
Francis "Frank" Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is an ambitious Democratic congressman and the House Majority Whip. Following his assistance in ensuring the election of President Garrett Walker (Michael Gill), Underwood is informed by Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez (Sakina Jaffrey) that the existing agreement to appoint him Secretary of State will not be honored. Furious at Walker's betrayal, Underwood and his wife Claire (Robin Wright), a development activist, begin seeking out pawns in a protracted political war against Walker. Soon brought into the fray are troubled Congressman Peter Russo (Corey Stoll) and Zoe Barnes (Kate Mara), a young political reporter for the Washington Herald newspaper.
International Broadcast 
House of Cards began broadcasting on showcase in Australia on 7 May 2013. Australian subscription TV provider Foxtel, and owner of showcase, offered the entire first season to showcase subscribers via their On Demand feature on Foxtel set top boxes connected to the internet, as well as through the Xbox 360, Internet TV, and mobile (Foxtel Go) services. Although the entire season was made available on demand, it maintained its weekly timeslot on showcase.
Critical response 
The first season received positive reviews from critics. It currently has a score of 76 out of 100 on Metacritic, based on 25 reviews.  USA Today critic Robert Bianco praised the series, particularly Spacey and Wright's lead performances, stating "If you think network executives are nervous, imagine the actors who have to go up against that pair in the Emmys." Tom Gilatto of People Weekly lauded the first two episodes, calling them "cinematically rich, full of sleek, oily pools of darkness." In her review for The Denver Post, Joanne Ostrow said the series is "Deeply cynical about human beings as well as politics and almost gleeful in its portrayal of limitless ambition." She added: "House of Cards is a wonderfully sour take on power and corruption." Writing in The New York Times, critic Alessandra Stanley noted that the writing in the series sometimes fails to match the high quality of its acting: "Unfortunately Mr. Spacey’s lines don’t always live up to the subtle power of his performance; the writing isn’t Shakespeare, or even Aaron Sorkin, and at times, it turns strangely trite." Nevertheless she lauded House of Cards as an entertainment that "revels in the familiar but always entertaining underbelly of government." Andrew Davies, the producer of the original UK TV series, stated that Spacey's character lacks the "charm" of Ian Richardson's, while The Independent praised Spacey's portrayal as a more "menacing" character, "hiding his rage behind Southern charm and old-fashioned courtesy."
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