House of Cards, US vs UK editions


#1

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#2

There are two other 4-hour series of the BBC version, as well. They function as extensions of the original story; they're just titled differently -- "To Play the King" and "The Final Cut." That second one gets in a great pun, too, by extending the card analogy while also referencing the monarchy, which is Francis' main opponent in that one.


#3

The third series' title is also a playing card pun!


#4

Brits excel at just this kind of thing

You might very well think that. I couldn't possibly comment.


#5

Are the additional series not available on US Netflix? few people seem to mention them. Canadian Netflix has the entire thing.


#6

Yup! They didn't get to any puns on "knave," though... seems like a missed
opportunity.


#7

I've read the book...never seen either TV programme.


#8

I've felt like the American version doesn't have a reason for existing, other than as entertainment. The UK version is directly satirizing the Thatcher era, and its darkness and bite is a very particular view about that era.

The Netflix version doesn't have any focus, except on the individual characters. They don't seem recognizable as "types" from our current government. Spacey himself is playing a southern white Democratic politician. What is that meant to satirize?

The structure of the British system makes it easier to "believe" the UK version - that an MP can maneuver to destroy people in his own party for advancement. It's harder to believe such maneuvering would work in the US against a Vice President, and, presumably, President in later episodes.

I enjoyed the US version, so I'm not unhappy that it was made, but the first is driven by such purpose. It tells its story far more efficiently, too.


#9

An excellent observation, but I don't agree with your spin.

The US has two loose coalitions instead of parties in the EU sense. Thus, an FU character (Francis Urquart / Frank Underwood) must operate differently in the two settings. In the US, a powerful politician doesn't worry about intra-party discipline, but instead co-ordinates a diverse set of individuals both in and out of Congress, and on both sides of the aisle. The coalitions to move any particular issue forward are quite flexible, and thus FU must be as well.

Both FUs have a clear "reason for existing." In both the US and the UK series, the opening move was a loyal FU being betrayed by the Prime Minister/ President, to which FU responded by manipulating the levers of power. The levers are different, but neither the character nor the motivations are.

In the US " a [Rep] can maneuver to destroy people in his own party for advancement." FU's version of this maneuvering is a bit extreme - in both settings - but peer into the shadows of Congress and you'll see that Kevin Spacey and David Fincher have a lot of raw material to work with. (eg. Paul Teller)


#10

I enjoyed the Spacey/Netflix version, but I'm mainly here to put a thumb up for the Kingsley Amis "Lucky Jim" reference. One of my favorite books.


#11

Brilliant, in the House of Cards context. The crossing of a meaningful chinese ideograph and a not-less-meaningful abbreviation.


#12

You should read (more) about Howard Hughes' Las Vegas years (approximately late '50s/early '60s until his death) and his not-insignificant contribution to the President Nixon-related events that caused Watergate. I'm probably being naive, but after reading about Hughes and how close he got to "owning" the federal government, by way of the President and a number [I don't recall offhand] of congressman, I have no problem believing that what Underwood gets away with could absolutely happen in real life (the thing in the other congressman's car/garage notwithstanding, as alluded to in the teaser for season 2).


#13

I never said there was no way to get power in the US illegitimately, only that it is virtually impossible to get a president or vice president to resign mid-term, no matter how corrupt his enemies. The only time that happened was to Nixon and Agnew, so it sort of worked in the opposite direction in that case. Unless we think Gerald Ford was a congressional mastermind who engineered his own ascendency to the president.


#14

Agreed.

To me, this highlights the similarity between the US and UK versions, because the UK series also deployed situational hyperbole to drive the plot.

Was the terrorist attack on the King in "To Play the King" even remotely plausible?


#15

I seem to remember a comment on BoingBoing a while back stating that there is something inherently sinister about the British. Ian Richardon's portrayal of Frances Urquhart is the perfect embodiment of the sinister charmer, (what Chaucer called 'the smyler with the knife.') And there are surely few Brits more sinister than right wing politicos.

The clue might be in the fact that there is a position in parliament designated as 'Chief Whip.'


#16

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