By Christopher Lloyd
The line between film and television – or, at least, the one between movies and cable television –continues to dissolve. Cable channels are now creating their own shows with budgets and production values equal to anything seen in your local cinema. Now other entities are getting into the game.
Consider “House of Cards,” an original series produced by Netflix. An ambitious political drama with a $100-million budget, it stars Kevin Spacey as a deeply amoral member of Congress deviously working the levers of power to his own end.
Rather than making the audience wait week by week to catch each new show, Netflix made the show’s entire 13-episode first season available for online streaming in one fell swoop this spring. A second season is planned.
“Cards” is essentially a showcase for Spacey (who is also an executive producer), and features him at his reptilian best. As House Minority Whip Francis Underwood, Spacey is alternatingly silky smooth and slimy, charming his enemies and dominating his underlings and allies like a benevolent dictator.
“House of Cards” works as a sort of darkling twin to “The West Wing,” showing us a venal Washington D.C. that’s probably closer to reality than our idealized imagination.