What's the verdict on Netflix's 'House of Cards'?
February 1st, 2013
05:43 PM ET

What's the verdict on Netflix's 'House of Cards'?

One of the hottest new dramas of the season isn't on your television - it's wherever your closest Internet connection happens to be.

Netflix's "House of Cards" has generated considerable buzz because of its risk-taking: the reported $50 million price tag to produce a single season; the streaming entertainment service's push for original programming; and the fact that all 13 episodes can be watched in one gluttonous sitting.

But however you decide to watch it - serialized, like your appointment viewing TV shows, or as one long movie - critics are calling "House of Cards" a must-view for Netflix subscribers.

A remake of a British series, "House of Cards" is set in the treacherous world of Washington, D.C., politics, and has major pedigree. Kevin Spacey stars as House Majority Whip Francis Underwood, who has revenge on his mind after losing out on a near-certain Secretary of State title, and Robin Wright stars as his wife, Claire. David Fincher served as director for the first two episodes.

It may not be as "out-of-the-box astonishing" as landmark programming like AMC's "Mad Men" or HBO's "Sopranos," but Netflix's "House of Cards" is nonetheless a "brassy, confident" new drama, Time's James Poniewozik says. "House of Cards" arrives "polished (and showing every dime of its reported $100 million budget on the screen). It’s good reason at least to use your Netflix subscription, if not to rush out and get one."

USA Today praised it as not only beautiful to watch but funny, too, with Spacey's role a perfect fit.

"The humor in 'Cards' — and it is mordantly amusing — stems from the way Underwood maneuvers people into thinking his ideas are theirs," USA Today's Robert Bianco says in his review. "Pondering from a distance, you may wonder how Underwood could have amassed so much power without anyone learning to be wary of him, but those objections seldom matter when Spacey is on screen. At those moments, you truly believe he could get anyone to do anything — anyone except his wife, which is a testament to the steely strength of Wright's performance."

After watching the first two episodes, which were released early to critics, the Los Angeles Times was similarly impressed, predicting that, "if the rest of the series is as good ... 'House of Cards' will in all probability become the first nontelevised television show to receive an Emmy nomination, or four."

The A.V. Club's appreciation was more muted, as Todd VanDerWerff found the premise and the treatment of it formulaic. "[T]his still feels like a very basic, by the numbers approach to this kind of story," VanDerWerff writes. "We’ve seen this all dozens of times before, and 'House Of Cards' has yet to distinguish itself in ways that don’t involve Spacey."

That said, it's also "compulsively watchable." Despite its flaws, "there's enough here to entertain."

So have you checked out "House of Cards"? And if so, how many episodes did you watch at once?

Filed under: television • Webisodes

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Matt

    Good, but the British series was far superior (it is one of the great series of all time IMHO).

    February 14, 2013 at 5:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. brett

    awsome show!! keving spacey best role since american beauty!

    February 5, 2013 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  3. rss

    Nice post. I was checking constantly this blog and I'm impressed! Extremely useful info specially the ultimate phase 🙂 I take care of such information much. I used to be looking for this certain information for a long time. Thanks and best of luck.

    February 5, 2013 at 8:56 am | Report abuse |
  4. QuercusMacrocarpa

    I thought it was phenomenal. Started the first episode on Saturday, became instantly hooked and watched four more right afterwards. Kevin Spacey is brilliant, as always. The writing is pretty good, and the supporting actors hold their own as well. I agree that the narration by Spacey in the middle of scenes was a bit weird at first, but you get used to it; and most of what he narrates is important behind-the-scenes info that helps tie the story together and allows the viewers to get the congressman's real-time opinion of what is going on underneath the political dog-and-pony-show front.

    It's clear that Netflix went out on a limb with this one, and I think that it will eventually pay off for them. I look forward to seeing more original works from them. To be completely honest, if they wouldn't have had someone awesome like Spacey as the front man and face of the show, I probably would have skipped over it. Glad I didn't though.

    February 5, 2013 at 3:02 am | Report abuse |
  5. mjslessonsfromhome

    Watched it all. Great stuff. I wouldn't trust Kevin Spacey's character if he told me it was raining during a thunderstorm. He is scary and hopefully a caricature. I shudder to think our leaders are that smarmy.

    February 5, 2013 at 2:38 am | Report abuse |
  6. Karen Frayne

    Episode 1: Tremendous...if the rest live up to this one, we have a fantastic series. One of the best in years. Thank you Netflix and thanks for releasing them all at one time!

    February 3, 2013 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • xraygal3867

      I was snowed in all weekend, so I got to watch all 13 chapters!! Enjoyed them all!!! I ditto the thank you to Netflix.

      February 3, 2013 at 9:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • sara

      YAYYYY for netflix! i bet the folks at CNN were hoping it would fail so they could go back to bashing netflix (a company that resisted getting acquired by cnn's parent company ). yeah so IN YOUR FACE CNN!

      February 4, 2013 at 12:25 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Have fun at your super bowl parties tonight


    February 3, 2013 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. E. W. Parks

    Emily, I thought most word-processing programs came with spell-checkers now.

    February 3, 2013 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kevin T

    I watched the entire season this weekend. Absolutely loved it. Robin Wright is amazing in this. Cant wait for more. If Netflix keeps putting out content like this I will certainly make every effort to watch it.

    February 3, 2013 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
  10. Peter

    well as a fully paid up 'inbred illiterate uneducated fool' I've watched 5 episodes (can inbreds spell episode?) and loved every minute

    February 3, 2013 at 7:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Joel Weinstein

      You sound like an embicile from Alabama. Do you work at the Piggly Wiggly? Please remember to brush your tooth.

      February 3, 2013 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
    • Peter

      Joel, read ALL the comments and you will find one from Big Dan referencing 'inbred fools'....I was attempting sarcasm!

      February 3, 2013 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  11. GT58

    I understand the reason Netflix did this, but to recoup the 50 million would require that this show be the reason that keeps or attracts 417,000 customers (just to break even). But if the series is good, it can work. I subscribe to HBO for Boardwalk Empire, and to Showtime for Dexter and Homeland. I cancel one the series are over for the season.

    February 3, 2013 at 6:02 am | Report abuse |
  12. sure they can identify...

    is away of life and jesus wanted it that way

    February 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm | Report abuse |
  13. i say that about hackers too


    February 2, 2013 at 7:51 pm | Report abuse |
  14. E. W. Parks

    I watched all of the first episode and part of the second. The Kevin Spacey character is about a sympathetic as rats in your basement. His running commentary with the audience is distracting (and patronizing). Hard enough to follow what plot there is without his smug, self-absorbed lectures to himself. Whose idea was this—? Rest of the class are, so far, lifeless and unsympathetic. How a viewer could identify with any of these people is a problem for psychologists. On episode's enough; I'm done.

    February 2, 2013 at 7:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Jonathan

    The British version was far better.

    February 2, 2013 at 3:21 pm | Report abuse |
  16. idk

    i am big into politics and want to be a politican but this show....was just a bit too much but hey maybe this is what really goes on but to an extreme of course

    February 2, 2013 at 11:10 am | Report abuse |
  17. ljh

    I'm watching House of Cards on netflix. David Fincher did great job, but why is the Latina character not Latina? She has an Indian accent. Sakina Jaffrey who plays Vasquez is great, but Kevin Spacey's character makes her ethnicity a BIG DEAL. Why point out that she is a Latina when it is obvious that she is NOT? Sigh....

    February 2, 2013 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Is it important? Andy Garcia played Vincent Mancini in Godfather III. Should the role been given to an Italian American instead?

      August 9, 2013 at 1:17 pm | Report abuse |
  18. Business As Usual

    Jesus wants normal daily routine for all and that is what will be happening, normal daily routine.

    February 2, 2013 at 8:17 am | Report abuse |
  19. shirley

    expecially the racist comments..embarrassing.

    February 2, 2013 at 5:22 am | Report abuse |
  20. Arnold

    I'm going to ask you a bunch of questions and I want to have them answered immediately.

    February 1, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Report abuse |
  21. Shanaynay

    You all racist.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:26 pm | Report abuse |
  22. Big Dan

    It was ambarassing.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
  23. Big Dan

    I found this show to be an ambarassing piece of cr ap that only an inbred illiterate uneducated fool would enjoy.

    February 1, 2013 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • frozensun11

      Thanks for your intelligent, well thought out critique, you have convinced me. PS the next time you complain about others' illiteracy, you may want to make sure you've spelled your words correctly.

      February 2, 2013 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • Emily


      February 3, 2013 at 10:58 am | Report abuse |
    • E. W. Parks

      Big Dan—I assume you watched the entire "piece of crap" before you came to your well-reasoned judgment. At least I had sense enough to watch only an episode-and-a-half.

      February 3, 2013 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Malala

    I watched the entire first season back to back. Thought it was fantastic.

    February 1, 2013 at 9:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • xraygal3867

      I watched the entire season and several of my friends did the same. Overall, we all thought it was some of the best acting we have seen on the small screen. Kevin Spacey knocks it out of the park with his performance..

      So 100% loved it !!!!!!!!'

      February 3, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |

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