Francis Urquhart & House of Cards

via Wikipedia

You might think that, but I’m afraid that I couldn’t possibly comment.
Francis Urquhart

When I was younger, I enjoyed two famous dramas on PBS from the UK. They were mini-series and both had Ian Richardson. The first was Porterhouse Blue and the second was the House of Cards trilogy.

In House of Cards, Ian Richardson portrayed the Machiavellian Francis Urquhart and his quest to for power. It slipped my mind that Richardson actually died in 2007. Anyway, I just spent some time yesterday watching House of Cards again. Needless to say that it’s pretty good. I’m unsure if I have seen all three mini-series, but I’ve just started watching To Play King.

Prime Minister’s question time, very frightening, like being mugged by a guinea pig. Is the PM aware?
Francis Urquhart

In the first part of the mini-series, aptly entitled House of Cards, which is based on the novel by Michael Dobbs of the same name, Urquhart reverts to any means necessary to assume the post of prime-minister. He manipulates a young political journalist named Mattie Storin into doing part of his dirty work. As Chief Whip of the Tories, he knows everything about his fellow reps and uses it to his full advantage. He’s not above using blackmail, which turns into murder later in the series when he has to get rid of his helpers who know too much. I think that the analogy of a house build on cards is really good for what really happens in this story. Urquhart’s empire is built upon cards, and may fall at any moment.

The second series opens up while Urquhart is into his second term as PM. He’s blasé about his power and wants more challenges. It’s kind of like if the President of the US decides that being President isn’t powerful enough. He needs something more powerful, like King of the World, or some ridiculous thing like that.

He gets into a power struggle with the newly coronated King, who decides to implicate himself in the political machinery of the UK. The King has got all sorts of strange ideas. He’s an idealist and flaunts his own policies, which are in complete opposition to the government’s ones. In a constitutional monarchy, the royalty is but a symbol. They are never involved in policy. The King makes a mistake by taking on Urquhart.

Even though Urquhart is despicable, the viewers empathize with his keen manipulations since during the whole series, Urquhart addresses the camera directly, as his confidant.

To Play The King cover, via Wikipedia

I initially expected the series to feel quite dated, as House of Cards was first shown in the UK in 1990, but contrary to my expectations, it looks quite good. Then again, we quickly lose our sense of criticism when we become engrossed by a story, and this is what happens quite easily in this series. I recommend this series. It’s really enjoyable.


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