Tuesday, February 26, 2013

House of Cards Season 1: A Review

Just finished watching House of Cards on my MacBook.   Watching a television series all at once, or over a few days time, rather than on a once-a-week basis, is nothing new.  And, in fact, ever since I saw the first few seasons of Alias, The Sopranos, and 24 that way back in the mid-2000s, I've been saying that's far and away the best way to watch television.  It's also a key characteristic of what I call "new new media," or the putting into consumer's hands the powers previously in the hands of producers - such as, in this case, being entertained on your not the producer's or network's schedule.

But House of Cards shuffles the deck in other new and crucial ways.  First and foremost, its entire first season debuted all at once on Netflix - unlike Alias, etc, in which the DVDs did not become available until after the season had aired on television.  This is a first, and made the series even more exciting.

The trappings of the series - the backdrops and tech environment in which the characters live and work - are also brand spanking new, and presented in the savviest way I've ever seen on television.  Texting, twitter, YouTube are not just throwaway references inserted in the story to make it seem hip, but crucial  components of the narrative.  Zoe, a reporter who moves from the equivalent of the Washington Post to the hypothetical successor to Politico, is aptly called a "twitter twat" by her rival in an early scene, and Zoe's knowledge of how information moves in our world is even more central to her success, or at least ability to stay above water, than her body, which she also uses to good effect.

The story is like Boss, but played on a much higher level, and without the literal insanity that the Mayor of Chicago had in that recently bygone series.  But House of Cards is also like Homeland, in that there are characters willing to commit murder to get to a heartbeat from the Presidency.

Kevin Spacey is better than ever as the lead character, and the rest of the cast, especially Corey Stoll, are the toppest notch.  I'd say House of Cards is among the top 3 best new television shows this 2012-2013 season, and I'm looking forward to more next year.

See also House of Cards Season 2 - Even Better than the First

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