By Nick Chaney
Not simply content with using over 30% of our country’s internet bandwidth, Netflix has now put their foot in the door of original television programming. House of Cards debuted on the company’s Instant Streaming site on February 1st by dropping all 13 episodes of its first season at once. House of Cards has the tough position of not only being judged on its own merits, but also for being the first program representing Netflix’s new creative endeavor. It’s not enough for it to be a good series, but it must justify Netflix’s risky move into programming. I can safely say after having seen the first three episodes that it’s a wonderful step on a brand new path for the company.
House of Cards is a political revenge-noir that follows Frank Underwood (played brilliantly by Kevin Spacey) as he exacts revenge on all the political members of his party that had a hand in passing him over for the long-awaited position of Secretary of State. Double crosses, elaborate schemes, and sabotage run throughout Washington D.C. in this series, and the pulpy dialogue and noir visuals perfectly synchronize with the seedy underbelly of our nation’s politics. In lesser hands the dialogue would feel forced, but Spacey’s performance keeps the series chugging along so briskly that you’ll hardly notice anything awry.
David Fincher (director of The Social Network, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo) directed the first two episodes, and he brings the same visual flair to the small screen that he has become famous for in Hollywood. His dark color palette casts a looming shadow over the city, representing the black plaque that has infected our nation’s most trusted politicians. By the time the third episode rolls around, the direction does take a slight hit in Fincher’s absence, but the show does well to not strain itself with poor imitations.
House of Cards isn’t a revolutionary drama by any means, but it’s no throwaway show either. Netflix could have done a lot worse with its debut program, and the show boasts some fantastic performances to keep it afloat. The show may be slight, but it’s truly a lot of fun which it makes it an easy recommendation. House of Cards is an entertaining romp in noir politics and is an assured sign that Netflix has arrived successfully into the arena of producing original content. Let’s just hope this neat little card trick doesn’t come tumbling down after too much time.