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Netflix Streaming review: 'House of Cards' gets better in its second season

"House of Cards" Season 2

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I personally found the first season of “House of Cards” good but not great. The show oozed pedigree from its every pore, but at times the show couldn’t decide whether it wanted to be a dry political procedural or a soap opera, with the most interesting character getting killed off two episodes before the season ended. By the end of the year, in the eyes of many critics, “Orange is the New Black” surpassed “House of Cards” as Netflix’s best original show. Still, season 1 was nominated for nine Emmys in major categories, and signaled Netflix as a new force in American entertainment.

Photos from the "House of Cards" Season 2 premiere
Photos from the "House of Cards" Season 2 premiereGetty Images

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Season 2 of “House of Cards” is a vast improvement, as the show embraces its pulpy, soapy side and goes completely bonkers in the best possible way. Kevin Spacey is as good as he’s always been on this show, but the show around him is finally as interesting as his performance. (Well, for the most part. More on that later.)

As Claire Underwood, Robin Wright actually gets stuff to do this season. It felt like she spent much of last year moping with her photographer pal, but here she often gets to be as scheming and evil as Frank. Gerald McRaney and Molly Parker are fun in supporting roles, proving that every show can benefit from former cast members of “Deadwood.”

The show still has weaknesses. It’s still more about great moments then making any sort of long-term logical sense, with moments like a shocking confession from Claire on live television amounting to nothing. The show is constantly throwing new characters and storylines at the wall; for example, Sam Page, who played Joan’s creepy husband on “Mad Men,” shows up for a few episodes, looks concerned, then leaves the story, having done nothing. It seemed each episode introduced a new young white female in her 20s who was abused or in trouble. At any given moment, there are least 5 characters whose names I can’t remember. Jimmi Simpson plays a hacker character who's downright goofy. Plus, every character is such a devious scheming liar that after a while it gets exhausting.

But still, for fans of pulp TV entertainment, Season 2 of “House of Cards” is filled with shocking moments (a death in the first episode is probably the most surprising television moment since the heyday of “Breaking Bad”), and the final shot of the season makes me wish Season 3 was here already.

A question for readers: have any of you seen the original British show on which this is based? If so, leave your thoughts in the comments below,, and please post your opinions about “House of Cards” Season 2.

Click on the video above for another review of this season, and enjoy the slideshow featuring photos from the recent premiere showcasing the talented cast. For more reviews and updates on the latest Netflix Streaming releases, subscribe to the Netflix Instant Examiner today.