House of Cards (U.S. TV series)
|House of Cards|
|Created by||Beau Willimon|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||2|
|No. of episodes||26 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||46–59 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Media Rights Capital|
|Picture format||Univisium (2:1 Aspect)
1080p (HDTV) (season 1)
4K (UHDTV) (season 2)
|Audio format||Dolby Digital 5.1|
|Original run||February 1, 2013– present|
|Related shows||House of Cards|
|[Netflix Page Website]|
|[Kevin Spacey's website Production website]|
House of Cards is an American political drama television series, developed and produced by Beau Willimon. It is an adaptation of a previous BBC miniseries of the same name and 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 premiered on February 14, 2014. On February 4, 2014, ten days prior to the first available streaming release of the second season, Netflix announced that the show had been renewed for a third season.
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. The show also earned 4 Golden Globe Award nominations on December 12, 2013, earning the first major acting award for an online-only web television series when Wright won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama.
- 1 Cast and characters
- 2 Plot
- 3 Production
- 4 Episodes
- 5 Broadcast
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Cast and characters
- Kevin Spacey as Francis J. "Frank" Underwood, a Democrat from South Carolina's 5th Congressional District, House Majority Whip, Vice President of the United States in the second season and 46th President of the United States in the final episode of season two. 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. Just as Urquhart does in the BBC version, Underwood often breaks the fourth wall by speaking directly to the viewer. (Seasons 1–2)
- Robin Wright as Claire Underwood, Francis's wife. She runs the Clean Water Initiative, an NPO, and often gets involved with Frank's political scheming. (Seasons 1–2)
- Mahershala Ali as Remy Danton, who works as a lobbyist for a natural gas company, having previously worked for Underwood. (Seasons 1–2)
- Sebastian Arcelus as Lucas Goodwin, an editor at The Washington Herald. (Seasons 1–2)
- Rachel Brosnahan as Rachel Posner, a former prostitute dragged into Underwood's plans by Doug Stamper after sleeping with Peter Russo. Stamper discovers that she is having a relationship with someone she met at church, which makes him question her loyalty. (Seasons 1–2)
- Kristen Connolly as Christina Gallagher, a headstrong congressional staffer involved in a secret relationship with Peter Russo and, later, as personal assistant to the President. (Seasons 1–2)
- Nathan Darrow as Edward Meechum, a member of the US Capitol Police and Underwood's bodyguard and driver. In season two he joins the Secret Service and engages in sexual relations with Frank and Claire Underwood. (Seasons 1–2)
- Michel Gill as Garrett Walker, 45th President of the United States, former Governor of Colorado (Seasons 1–2)
- Sakina Jaffrey as Linda Vasquez, the President's White House Chief of Staff. (Seasons 1–2)
- Michael Kelly as Douglas "Doug" Stamper, Underwood's chief of staff and confidant. (Seasons 1–2)
- Kate Mara as Zoe Barnes, a reporter for The Washington Herald (later moving to Slugline following an altercation with her boss). After meeting Frank Underwood, she quickly forms an intimate relationship with him with both of them using each other for advancement in their careers, with Underwood using her to leak stories to hamper the progress of his opponents. She was killed by Underwood after she tried to uncover the reason behind Peter Russo's death. (Seasons 1–2)
- Gerald McRaney as Raymond Tusk, a wealthy businessman who runs a number of companies with significant holdings in the nuclear industry. (Seasons 1–2)
- Molly Parker as Jacqueline Sharp, a congresswoman tapped by Underwood to succeed him as Majority Whip when he is made Vice President. (Season 2)
- 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. After going sober and running for Governor of Pennsylvania, he is killed by Frank Underwood when he tries to come clean about the events that Underwood was blackmailing him with. (Season 1)
- Constance Zimmer as Janine Skorsky, a reporter for The Washington Herald (later moving to Slugline) who becomes suspicious of Zoe's success but eventually joins her after Zoe gets her a job at Slugline. Following Zoe's death, she moves in with her mother. (Seasons 1–2)
- Jayne Atkinson as Secretary of State Catherine Durant, a former Senator from Missouri. (Seasons 1–2)
- Gil Birmingham as Daniel Lanagin, a Native American casino owner in Missouri and friend of Raymond Tusk. (Season 2)
- Reg E. Cathey as Freddy Hayes, the owner of Freddy's BBQ, an eatery frequented by Underwood. (Seasons 1–2)
- Derek Cecil as Seth Grayson, a sinister political operative who becomes Press Secretary for Vice President Underwood. (Season 2)
- Kathleen Chalfant as Margaret Tilden, the owner of The Washington Herald. (Season 1)
- Terry Chen as Xander Feng, a corrupt Chinese businessman and backchannel diplomat who is Raymond Tusk's business partner. (Season 2)
- Curtiss Cook as Terry Womack, House Majority Leader from Missouri's 5th congressional district. (Seasons 1–2)
- Ben Daniels as Adam Galloway, a photographer who is living in New York City, and who is Claire's lover. (Seasons 1–2)
- Joanna Going as Patricia Walker, wife of President Garrett Walker and First Lady of the United States. (Season 2)
- Jeremy Holm as Agent Nathan Green, the White House/FBI liaison. (Season 2)
- 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. (Seasons 1–2)
- Kevin Kilner as Michael Kern, a Senator from Colorado and the President's original choice for the position of Secretary of State. (Season 1)
- Mozhan Marnò as Ayla Sayyad, a tenacious journalist working for the Wall Street Telegraph. (Season 2)
- Benito Martinez as Hector Mendoza, a Republican Senator from Florida and the Senate Majority Leader. (Season 2)
- Boris McGiver as Tom Hammerschmidt, editor-in-chief of The Washington Herald. (Seasons 1–2)
- Lance E. Nichols as Gene Clancy, the mayor of Gaffney, South Carolina. (Season 1)
- Elizabeth Norment as Nancy Kaufberger, secretary to Frank Underwood and Doug Stamper. (Seasons 1–2)
- Samuel Page as Connor Ellis, a smooth talking media consultant who becomes Communications Director for Claire Underwood. (Season 2)
- Larry Pine as Speaker of the House Bob Birch. (Seasons 1–2)
- Al Sapienza as Marty Spinella, a union lobbyist. (Season 1)
- Kate Lyn Sheil as Lisa Williams, a social worker who befriends Rachel Posner. (Season 2)
- Jimmi Simpson as Gavin Orsay, a hacker and informant for the FBI. (Season 2)
- Libby Woodbridge as Megan Hennessey, a former US Marine Private who was sexually assaulted by General Dalton McGinnis. (Season 2)
- Dan Ziskie as Jim Matthews, the Vice President of the United States, a former Governor of Pennsylvania. (Season 1)
Real-life media figures such as Donna Brazile, Morley Safer; CNN's Candy Crowley, John King, Ashleigh Banfield, and Soledad O'Brien; Fox News's Dennis Miller and Sean Hannity; HBO's Bill Maher; ABC's George Stephanopoulos; MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Chris Matthews; and CBS's Major Garrett make cameo appearances as themselves.
Francis "Frank" Underwood is an ambitious Democratic congressman from South Carolina and House Majority Whip. He helped ensure the election of President Garrett Walker in return for his own appointment as Secretary of State. Before Walker is sworn in, however, Chief of Staff Linda Vasquez tells Underwood that the president wants him to promote his agenda in Congress and will not honor their agreement. Furious at Walker's betrayal, Underwood and his wife, Claire, seek to exact revenge and ultimately gain power.
Underwood begins a highly intricate plan to disgrace his enemies and obtain a cabinet position, acquiring pawns he can manipulate in his power play. He uses his extramarital relationship with Zoe Barnes, a young political reporter, to leak damaging stories about his rivals in the House. Meanwhile, he blackmails Peter Russo, a troubled congressman from Pennsylvania, into helping him undermine Walker's pick for State, Senator Michael Kern, and eventually has him replaced with his own choice, Senator Catherine Durant. Underwood also uses Russo in a plot to end a teacher's strike and pass an education bill, which improves Underwood's standing with Walker.
Because the new Vice President is the former Governor of Pennsylvania, a special election is to be held for governor. Underwood helps Russo get clean and props up his candidacy, but intends to break his sobriety later and trigger his downfall shortly before the election. Shifting political fortunes force Underwood to enact his plan early, Underwood stages Russo's suicide after he threatens to go to the press with Underwood's actions. With the Pennsylvania special election in chaos, Underwood convinces the Vice President to step down and run for his old position of governor – leaving the vice presidency open to Underwood, as was his plan all along.
Walker appears to have other plans. Underwood ends up vetting a surprising choice for Vice President, billionaire Raymond Tusk. Tusk later reveals that in fact he is actually vetting Underwood for the position. Meanwhile, after Underwood brings their affair to an end, Zoe begins piecing together clues about Underwood's machinations. 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 users' 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, who has served as an aide to Charles Schumer, Howard Dean and Hillary Clinton, 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 International 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, which ran from 1987 until 1990, responded positively to the script. He then played Richard III at The Old Vic, 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.
According to the Maryland Film Office, the state spent $11.7 million to subsidize the production costs.
- For season 1, the company received a final tax credit of about $11.6 million because filming costs were $63.6 million, more than 1,800 Maryland businesses were involved, and nearly 2,200 Marylanders were hired with a $138 million economic impact.
- For season 2, the company might get a tax credit of about $15 million because filming costs were more than $55.5 million, nearly 2,000 Maryland businesses benefitted, and more than 3,700 Marylanders were hired with a $120.5 million estimated economic impact.
- For season 3, the company has filed a letter of intent to film and estimated that the filming costs and economic impact similar to season 2. Under the 2014 formula, "the show would qualify for up to $15 million in tax credits."
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.
Season 2 (2014)
As the newly appointed Vice President of the United States, Frank sets out to eliminate all ties that connect him to the murder of Congressman Peter Russo at the end of season 1, while dealing with domestic and international problems. As problems begin to stack with his new administration, Frank realizes that he is positioned to surmount them while gaining more power, and begins maneuvering his pawns into play.
Season 3 (2015)
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 their 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 service. Season two returned to showcase on February 15, 2014. As with season one, the entire season was made available on demand to showcase subscribers while also retaining a weekly timeslot.
In India, Zee Café has acquired broadcast rights for the series. It is scheduled to premiere on February 20, 2014 and will be broadcast Monday to Friday at 11 P.M. It will be syndicated in both SDTV and HDTV formats.  In Russia, the series are broadcast on Channel One. The second season began airing on February 24, 2014.
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's 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 writer 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." Critics such as Time television critic James Poniewozik and Hank Stuever of The Washington Post compare the series to Boss.
House of Cards Season 1 was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc in the United States on June 11, 2013.
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.
On December 12, the network earned six Golden Globe Awards nominations for the 71st Golden Globe Awards, including 4 for House of Cards. Among those nominations was Wright for Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama for her portrayal of Claire Underwood, which she won on January 12. In so doing she became the first actress to win a Golden Globe Award for an online-only web television series. It also marked Netflix's first major acting award.
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