Country: United Kingdom 1990-
Duration: 3 hr 46min
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out the original BBC House of Cards drama series, on Netflix now.
It first aired in Britain in 1990, set in Westminster just after the premiership of Margaret Thatcher ended, to considerable (and well-deserved) critical acclaim.
The late Ian Richardson played cunning and shrewd “Francis Urquhart”, fictional chief whip of the Conservative Party. As in the American adaptation of House of Cards, Urquhart, like Underwood, often breaks the third wall to address the audience directly and inform them of his true motives. It is a powerful Shakespearean method of exposition, made most famous by Richard III, the ultimate Machiavellian who “seem a saint, when most I play the devil.”
This House of Cards explores roughly the same themes of the recent version. Urquhart plots to attain power by underhanded means, expertly manipulating and playing people off against each other. Richardson is excellent as the dastardly Urquhart. He exudes ice cool ruthlessness throughout the four episodes.
What I also really enjoy about the original House of Cards is that in no way seeks a happy ending or any sort of moral resolution. In this way, it closely resembles its merciless protagonist, but one only has to cast a cursory glance at history to know that the good guys do not always win in the end.