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U.S. ’House of Cards’ is popular, but Brit version is bloody good show

The second season of the American version of “House of Cards” continues to be a hit, much like its first season which began February 1, 2013. For those lucky enough to afford Netflix, they were able to view the second season on Valentine’s Day; where fans on the east coast curled up warm inside to watch, while the snow finally settled from the night before. As cold as the weather outside, the main character of the show, Congressman Francis Underwood, continued his chilling effect for retribution. Underwood is played by two-time Oscar winner Kevin Spacey.

No other actor could have played the original British version of "House of Cards" better than Ian Richardson. He played the main character Francis Urquhart, a Machiavellian politician.

The vindictive plot for audiences to follow is this –

Betrayed by the White House, Congressman Francis Underwood embarks on a ruthless rise to power by manipulating a young reporter and a miscreant colleague. His wife Claire is a willing accomplice until their uncommon marriage shows strain.

The adaptation of the series is based on the British original version of the same name made in 1990. The series is a trilogy; the second currently playing on Washington, D.C.’s WETA UK (PBS) called House of Cards: To Play the King. The last title of the trilogy is called The Final Cut. The trilogy is based on three novels by British conservative politician and author Michael Dobbs. House of Cards was written in 1989, To Play the King in 1992, and The Final Cut in 1994.

The first in the series was played on PBS station WETA only. Scottish actor Ian Richardson played the role that Spacey now plays. Richardson’s character is Francis Urquhart, a fictional Chief Whip of the Conservative Party.

Richardson as Urquhart plays his character to the hilt. As Chief Whip and confidante to the Prime Minister (PM), he decides to destroy him due to the PM’s picks for his new administration. Urquhart’s suggestions were not approved due to the fact that the PM (who is new, played by actor David Lyon) already has his agenda in place. However he trusts his Chief Whip immensely, totally unaware that Urquhart is plotting against him for power.

The first episode exhibits the ruthlessness, cleverness, manipulation and backstabbing Urquhart possesses under a cool and calm demeanor. As the series carries on, he talks to his audience about what his approach will be and gives his synopsis of people he’s dealing with. He knows his environment thoroughly and endorses it through blackmail, sex and murder.

Urquhart becomes sexually involved with a young, wide-eyed attractive reporter (though he’s married and old enough to be her father). She first approaches him for a story, he finds her talented and appealing. As the sexual tension grows between them, she wants to call him “Daddy” (he agrees). Urquhart often used the phrase "You might very well think that; I couldn't possibly comment" when questioned about something he cared not to answer.

Urquhart at the end of Series One got what he wanted in House of Cards – he leaked information out secretly that was leading to the dismissal of the PM, the person he blackmailed he murdered by putting a poisonous substance in his cocaine, he cleverly put his hat in the ring for Prime Minister with House of Commons approval, and the reporter he was sexing he murdered by throwing her off a high-level balcony. The balcony murder was the conclusion. How tragic! The reporter, Mattie Storin (played by actress Susannah Harker), had fallen in love with him. But Urquhart murdered Storin because she found out the evil deeds he had done; she questioned him, he didn’t trust her anymore, so out she went. commented on Ian Richardson’s role as Francis Urquhart –

"House of Cards was just so much his own," Diamond said, reflecting on Richardson's role as the epitome of elegant evil in the BBC parliamentary trilogy.

His oleaginous aside as a Machiavellian politician - "You might say that, I couldn't possibly comment" - has entered the language as a perfect catchphrase for devious evasiveness.

An exceptional political thriller, one that you were waiting to see what would happen next.

Ian Richardson (7 April 1934 – 9 February 2007) won a BAFTA award in 1991 for the role. The trilogy is under the “100 Greatest British Television Programs.”

The American House of Cards has received numerous awards including three Primetime Emmys and a Golden Globe for actress Robin Wright. She received it this year for the category of Best Actress – Television Series Drama. Wright plays Claire Underwood, the scheming wife of Congressman Frank Underwood.

House of Cards has been renewed for a third season and is filmed in Baltimore, Md.

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