House of Cards (U.S. TV series)
|House of Cards|
|Created by||Beau Willimon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||13 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||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, 13 episodes, 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 House Majority Whip who, after getting passed over for appointment as 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.
On July 18, 2013, Netflix earned the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for original online-only web television. House of Cards received nine of Netflix's fourteen total nominations. Among its nine nominations were Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Kevin Spacey, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series for Robin Wright, and Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for David Fincher.
House of Cards' second season is currently wrapping up production with a premiere date scheduled for February 14, 2014. Rumors were circulating that season two could possibly be the final season for House of Cards, but Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos stated that they are currently in negotiations for a third season and beyond.
- 1 Cast and characters
- 2 Synopsis
- 3 Production
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Broadcast
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Cast and characters
- Kevin Spacey as US Representative Francis J. "Frank" Underwood, a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th Congressional District and House Majority Whip. He often breaks the fourth wall to speak directly to the viewer. His name is derived from Francis Urquhart, the protagonist of the BBC version and the novel version of House of Cards, and Oscar Underwood, the first Democratic House whip.
- Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, Francis' wife. She runs the Clean Water Initiative, a non-profit that often gets involved with 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 US 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.
- Michael Kelly as Doug Stamper, Underwood's Chief of Staff 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.
- 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 of the United States, a former Senator from California. He increasingly relies on and trusts Underwood.
- Dan Ziskie as Jim Matthews, the Vice President of the United States, a former Governor of Pennsylvania.
- Ben Daniels as Adam Galloway, a photographer who is living in New York City, and who is Claire's lover.
- Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, a member of the US Capitol Police and Underwood's bodyguard and driver.
- Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton, who 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, a former Senator from Missouri.
- Kevin Kilner as Michael Kern, a Senator from Colorado and the President's original choice for the position of Secretary of State.
- Boris McGiver as Tom Hammerschmidt, editor-in-chief of the 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 number of companies with significant holdings in the nuclear industry.
- Al Sapienza as Marty Spinella, a union lobbyist.
- Kathleen Chalfant as Margaret Tilden, the owner of The Washington Herald.
Real-life media figures such as Donna Brazile, CNN's Candy Crowley, CNN's John King, Fox News's Dennis Miller, CNN's Soledad O'Brien, HBO's Bill Maher and ABC's George Stephanopoulos make cameo appearances as themselves.
Francis "Frank" Underwood is an ambitious Democratic congressman from South Carolina and House Majority Whip. Underwood helped ensure the election of President Garrett Walker, who promised to appoint Underwood as Secretary of State. However, before Walker is sworn in, Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez announces that the president will not honor the agreement and will instead nominate Senator Michael Kern. Linda tells Frank that they want him to continue helping their administration from within the House of Representatives. Furious at Walker's betrayal, Underwood and his wife, Claire, seek to exact revenge and ultimately gain power. Underwood, with the help of his chief of staff and confidant Doug Stamper, begins a highly intricate plan to disgrace his enemies and obtain a cabinet position. Underwood, who has few scruples, uses every opportunity to gain favor with those who can help him, and those he finds weak he squashes with manipulation and dishonesty. He and his wife Claire have an open marriage. They work independently to further their own goals and political agendas: Underwood on Capitol Hill, and Claire with her high-profile, non-profit activities. Often there are blurred lines between their activities in their quest of the pursuit of power, and they find themselves working together in their scheming, which includes sexual escapades with other lovers, as a tool for a means to their ends.
After being told he is no longer being considered for the position of Secretary of State, Underwood is tasked with the creation of an education reform bill which he promises he will have on the floor of the House in the first 100 days of Walker's presidency. He has little commitment to the promise, but plans to ensure that he has something drafted for the president who promises the American people a new education bill will be passed.
In order to raise his profile without doing much, Underwood begins acquiring pawns in his scheme to get a bill on the floor. He goes so far as to procure interns from other congressmen to work around the clock on writing the bill, manipulating them into thinking that they were contributing to law that would change education in America. He contributes little and has inexperienced underlings preparing an ambitious document which he barely takes the time to read. One of Underwoods "children" as he calls them, Zoe Barnes, a young 20-something aspiring political reporter for the Washington Herald, trades insider information with Underwood, starting with releasing an unrevised copy of the education reform bill to discredit Congressman Donald Blythe and allow Underwood to gain control over the bill. During their constant text exchanges related to information, sexual innuendos become a part of Underwood and Barnes discussions, and they finally take their relationship to an intense sexual level, although Underwood is conscious of their significant age difference. In the meantime, Claire becomes aware of the affair but understands that it is needed to help further both their aspirations. All the while however, Claire has been resuming a flirtatious and eventual sexual affair with Adam Galloway, a worldly professional photographer who has supported Claire's non-profit organization with donations of his famous photos for auction at fund raising events. Underwood suspects their affair, but also respects her choices, knowing that she will always stand beside him when he needs her. They spend their time at the end of the day, sharing wine and smoking cigarettes on the window ledge of their apartment, trading information they've learned, and creating plans for gaining more power, money, image and sex.
Meanwhile, Underwood blackmails Rep. Peter Russo by threatening to expose Russo's drug addiction and dubious moral behavior with prostitutes after arranging for Russo to be released without charges following a drunk driving arrest. By using Russo, Underwood is able to slander Kern and eventually have him replaced with his own choice, Senator Catherine Durant, for Secretary of State.
While negotiating terms in the new education bill, Underwood deals with a strike by the teacher's union. By manipulating Russo to close the shipyard in his home district, Underwood is able to get the congressional support he needs to end the strike and delivers on the promise to pass the education bill, furthering his prestige with the president.
Because the new vice president is the former governor of Pennsylvania, a special election is to be held for governor. Underwood props up Russo, sobering him up and creating a campaign machine with the intent to eventually break his sobriety and see to his downfall near the end of the election. When timetables move up, Underwood is forced to enact his plan early, while Russo, heartbroken and drunk, states that he will come clean on everything, including Underwood's actions. Underwood murders the drunken Russo to silence him, locking him in a garage with a running car so that it appears to be suicide. With the Pennsylvania special election in chaos, Underwood is able to convince the Vice President to step down and run for his old position of governor. It is revealed that this was Underwood's plan from the start in order to seek the vice presidency.
Instead, Underwood is tasked with vetting the President's new choice for Vice President, billionaire Raymond Tusk. Tusk reveals that in fact he is vetting Underwood for the position. Meanwhile, after Underwood brings their affair to an end, Zoe begins to piece together clues about Underwood's plots. The season ends with Underwood being offered and accepting the nomination for Vice President.
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. Fincher 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 publishing 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. In a speech at the Edinburgh Television Festival, he also noted that while other networks were interested in the show, they all wanted a pilot, whereas Netflix - relying solely on their statistics - ordered the series directly.
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.
Filming for the first season began in January 2012 in Harford County, Maryland. Filming in 2013 centered primarily around Baltimore, Maryland. According to the Maryland Film Office, the state spent $11.7 million to subsidize the production costs.
Season 1 (2013)
Francis "Frank" Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is an ambitious Democratic congressman and 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), the head of a large not-for-profit, 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 - a fictitious newspaper.
Season 2 (2014)
The entire first season premiered internationally on February 1, 2013, on Netflix.
In Australia, where Netflix is not available, the series was broadcast on showcase, premiering May 7, 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 - services similar to those offered by Netflix (see List of Netflix compatible devices). Although the entire season was made available, it maintained its weekly timeslot on showcase. The series was also made available via Apple's iTunes and Apple TV services.
The first season received positive reviews from critics. It 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." In Politico, however, Joshua Braver characterizes the plot as "preposterous" and argues that this is the inevitable result of adapting a "parliamentary" storyline to a "presidential" one. Critics such as Time television critic James Poniewozik and Hank Stuever of The Washington Post compare the series to Boss.
Awards and nominations
On July 18, 2013 Netflix earned the first Primetime Emmy Award nominations for original online only web television for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2013. Three of its web series, Arrested Development, Hemlock Grove and House of Cards, earned a combined 14 nominations. Among House of Cards' nine nominations, "Chapter 1" received four nominations for the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards and 65th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards becoming the first webisode (online-only episode) of a television series to receive a major Primetime Emmy Award nomination: Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for David Fincher. This episode also received several Creative Arts Emmy Award nominations, including Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series, and Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Original Dramatic). "Chapter 1" joined Arrested Development's "Flight of the Phoenix" and Hemlock Grove's "Children of the Night" as the first webisodes to earn Creative Arts Emmy Award nominations. Although Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series is not a category that formally recognizes an episode, Spacey submitted "Chapter 1" for consideration to earn his nomination. On September 15 at the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Award presentation, "Chapter 1" and Eigil Bryld earned the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series, making "Chapter 1" the first Emmy-awarded webisode. On September 22, Netflix made history with a total three wins including Fincher's Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series for directing the pilot episode "Chapter 1" in addition to the pair of Creative Arts Emmy Awards, making "Chapter 1" the first Primetime Emmy-awarded webisode. None of the Emmy awards were considered to be in major categories, however.
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- "House Of Cards A Delicate Balance Of Politics And Drama". NPR.