House of Cards – Season Two

Kevin-Spacey-in-House-of-Cards-Season-2-Chapter-26Since season one of the show I have watched the first two series of the original British version. What’s quite impressive is that the first three-part British miniseries covers the same more ground than the entire first 13-episode American season. By the end of this second season we have still only reached the point in the plot that the original British version reached in three episodes. That said it would be a bit too easy to judge this American incarnation on the fact that it’s spread the plot across so much more material, and it would be very unfair. So we rejoin Frank (Kevin Spacey) and Claire Underwood (Robin Wright) after seeing just how ruthless the pair of them can be at the end of the first season.

Episode one doesn’t hang about in hitting that ruthlessness home with a very sudden and unexpected death of a major player in proceedings. From here on in Frank and Claire become more and more cold and calculated as they plot Franks rise to the Presidency not caring about any casualties on the way. In the first season one of the issues was that the power-hungry couple were unrivalled in their ability and only a very small handful of characters had them properly sussed. In this season that issue is addressed and it makes for much more entertaining viewing seeing the Underwoods struggling to keep people on their side, and for the first time see their positions actually threatened. However, when the episodes start to come to an end it seemed as though none of this threat had any point to it and we come out of season two still believing that Frank and Claire are completely untouchable. On top of this we have a number of new storylines in this season which when we get to the end seem to have very little bearing on what actually matters. For example we have our computer hacker, Gavin Orsay (Jimmi Simpson) who has quite a few scenes and whenever he’s around I just simply didn’t care. We also had Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan) an ex-call girl linked with Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly) who until the very end of the season seems to have very little bearing on the main plot, that said she does do something very interesting when the season draws to a close. It may well be that these stories will eventually have bearing on proceedings but in season two particularly in the middle section that they just detract from what the shows actually about. I can’t even begin to try and understand why they felt the need to include a scene involving Franks, Claire and a certain assistant in some sharing a very strange experience which again seemed to have no point other than to provide the show with a sex appeal that it didn’t have before, but did it need it?

For me season two is another very enjoyable collection of TV but it felt like it spent too much simply treading water, though I said it would be unfair to judge it against the concise nature of the British nature I really think this could have done with being significantly shorter. That said this is still a show worth watching and I look forward to it’s third season.

 

Cage, Metal, Spacey and Something from Me – 06.04.13

Hello and welcome to my first weekly update in which I plan to showcase some of my creative writing. Today I’m going to give you the first part of a short story I wrote this semester for one of my units, any feedback you may have on it would be greatly appreciated or if you love it then come back next week for part two:

An Unusual Murder: Part 1

     The following is filed as classified evidence for the Simon Falmouth case.

Official Statement

Badman

     I was in Tesco looking for some food. Sometimes I forget things that have happened because I take a lot of drugs and then I just end up places. Most of the time they’re places I want to go but sometimes I end up in some weird shit holes. A lot of people have told me I’ve got a mental illness but it’s bullshit. They just can’t handle the fact that I’m harder than them. The police have asked me to write this statement so they can find out what happened when I was in Tesco this time yesterday and what happened when this mad shit went down. I’m going to write the complete truth because Badman doesn’t talk shit, Badman tells the truth and I ain’t gonna hide what I did because I don’t care what anyone thinks.

I can’t remember what I was looking for, tomatoes or something, and this woman, Mary who’s always around, was holding my arm and I don’t know why, she must be in love with me or something but she’s always there wherever I go and I wish she’d piss off. She was holding my arm really tight so I grabbed hers and pulled it off me. There was a woman screaming in the next aisle, I have no idea why and the security guard was coming over. Mary started shouting, ‘Charlie, stop it,’ at me and it made me angry, my name is not Charlie and it was pissing me off, so I hit her in the face and she fell over. It looked like she was crying but I don’t give a shit, she follows me all over the place and no man should have to put up with that. I got in a rage, the woman in the next aisle kept screaming and it was grating on me so I pulled my pen knife from my pocket. The pen knife is my signature weapon on the street, I’ve got in fights with it before that’s how I got these scars on my arms. I took the knife and crouched over Mary, I flicked out the blade and pointed it into her neck just next to her throat, I pierced the skin and ripped across, blood poured everywhere.

After that the fucking idiot security guard came over and started hitting me with a baton and it made me even more angry so I turned round and stabbed him in the stomach, the woman in the next aisle saw and started screaming even more. I ran towards the door but they were locking the place down, the shutters were too low for me to squeeze under, they were idiots I was ready to stab everyone in there but then I passed out, it must have been the drugs again.

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Next week things the events that took place should become clearer with the second statement. So this week has been the first of the Easter holidays for me and it has meant being able to catch up on a load of TV series, reading and games that I’ve been meaning to get on to for ages so it’s nice to get them done. My first review this week was a continuation of Cage Rage season with my review of Racing with the Moon, then I got round to finishing off House of Cards. And finally I thought you all might like to know about an awesome band I discovered in the form of Kvelertak. To round it all off I’m going to leave you with a trailer for the film I watched today, Danny Boyle’s Trance, keep reading the blog for a review later this week:

House of Cards (U.S.) – Season One

netflix-house-of-cards-global-release-all-13-episodes-february-1st-anti-piracy-0Netflix’ first ever original series was delivered to us in the form of a David Fincher-helmed, Kevin Spacey-starring political drama. The story, based on the novel of the same name, takes it’s source materials plot and moves it from the UK to the US, from Parliament to the White House, I have read the book or seen the BBC series so I can’t really say how closely it sticks to the original. This first series though tells the story of a House Majority Whip for the Democrats, Frank Underwood (Spacey), as he pulls the strings behind everything that goes on in the government, all the while getting revenge on anyone who does him wrong and trampling on anyone who might get in the way of his plans to make his way to the Presidents seat.

Political drama is rarely an exciting thing, and not a genre that I would normally be excited to watch, however with the pull of Fincher and Spacey House of Cards was an exception to the rule and I really was impressed by how well it lived up to my expectations. The BBC adaptation took place in just six parts and is regarded as on of the best TV drama’s ever made so I was apprehensive about the fact that this re-imagining of the same story was to be spread over two thirteen episode seasons, I thought it might be Americans trying to squeeze too much out of something to make as much money out of it as possible. I was pleasantly surprised, however, when this season turned out to be a slow-burning, exciting series that gets more and more gripping as it goes on. The show has a rather unusual approach by having Underwood talking directly to the camera a lot of the time, breaking one of the fundamental laws of creating a suspended reality, but in this case, due largely to Spacey’s performance, the disbelief is never left behind and it instead gives the audience a greater insight in the mind of the shows ruthless protagonist. Without it we’d be lost as Underwood is such a sly character who lies through his teeth about 90% of the time.

It’s not a show completely without its flaws, there are moments particularly around episodes 3-5 where it seems as though there’s a lot of filler and the first two episodes, the ones directed by Fincher himself are far better than any to follow it making the dip in quality very apparent between episodes 2 and 3. And often it seems that some of the secondary storylines are nowhere near as well thought out as the main narrative. But overall this is great stuff by the time you reach the end of the season you’ll be left in awe at how Underwood manages to get away with the things he does and it sets us up well for the second season. If Netflix can contiue producing stuff of this quality it could well become the most powerful network in the business.

 

Stolen Maniac Machine – 30.03.13

So Easter is upon us and my second year of University is pretty much finished as my last two pieces of coursework were handed in earlier this week. All that’s left now is a minor exam in mid-May but for the coming months I will have an insane amount of free time to crack on with a load of TV series, movies and games that I’ve been meaning to do for a while. It should also give me some time to start putting up some creative stuff on here and if you swing by the blog next week I’m going to post a part of one of my short stories that will progress each week, I hope you’ll enjoy them. I also plan to enter a few competitions in the next few months and will be keeping you updated as to how that goes.

As for now it’s time for me to plough on with some House of Cards, continue my rise to greatness in FIFA and get excited for the start of Game of Thrones Season 3 tomorrow. In amongst that I hope to throw in some vibrant splashes of quality movies too and I’ll of course be keeping the reviews ticking on here. As for the reviews of the past week I kicked things off with my take on Maniac a gruesome horror remake starring Elijah Wood. CAGE RAGE season got its first cinema trip in the form of Stolen. And finally The Strokes returned with new album Comedown Machine.

In terms of stuff to get excited for there’s only one thing on everyones mind and that’s the aforementioned Game of Thrones but rather than leave you with a trailer for the new season you need to see this awesome creation that some saddo has spent a year of their life making. A year well spent to be fair: