Contains spoilers -- do not read unless you've seen House Of Cards Season 1, Episode 5
I'm not sure why I'm so repulsed by the Frank/Zoe sexual rendezous. It could be that, in "real" life, Kevin Spacey is so asexual. Or it could be that, so far, House Of Cards hasn't really set these two up for that kind of relationship. Either way, blech. It kind of soothes me, just a little, to learn that it's strictly a business arrangement. When Frank returns home, Claire seems to know immediately that he's slept with Zoe, and she asks, point-blank, "What's in it for us?" Everything this pair does is calculated. It also helps us understand why Claire turned down Adam in the hotel: that affair is based on emotion, and is thus dangerous to her marriage, her professional life, and Frank's entire political career.
So it's very interesting to see Claire fight against her strong feelings for Adam. To give credit to Robin Wright's amazing portrayal, you can literally see the jealousy in her eyes when she realizes Frank has slept with Zoe -- not because she's possessive of Frank, but because she wishes she could sleep with Adam.
Up-and-coming Zoe, now unemployed, is being pursued by the likes of MSNBC and ABC, but opts to go for a job at Slugline (a.k.a. Politico), where online journalists write articles in beanbags and come and go as they please. Washington Herald editor-in-chief Tom Hammerschmidt, who fired Zoe in a rage, goes on a tirade about the "new" journalism, saying things like Twitter and the internet are fads. His tirade serves as his resignation, and he's finished. This black-and-white depiction of old and new journalism isn't too far from the truth, but it's just so dichotomous. If every old-school journalist who believed these things about new media were fired, methinks there would be no newspapers printed at all.
Next, we're introduced to a new character, Marty Spinella, who's an education lobbyist and union supporter (geez, these political folks all look the same, don't they? I have trouble telling a lot of them apart). He's vehemently against Frank, obviously, over his stance on collective bargaining. This all ties in with Claire's gala -- she still won't have enough proceeds from the fete unless she takes Remy's offer (which she hesitatingly refused in episode 4). Because of Frank, the union won't let Claire into the planned hotel venue for the gala, and they stage protests outside to try to mar the event.
Ever the thinker, Claire decides to throw the party in front of the hotel. Things get into full swing and the party is a major hit, even though, realistically, this could never happen. I mean, hello by-laws, safety measures and fire codes! Frank calls in his old pal Freddy to supply the BBQ (another unrealistic thing -- at a fancy black-tie gala you serve messy ribs? Not likely). Frank also invites Zoe to be the only journalist in the gala; all other reporters are resigned to the outside, asking pathetic questions to reluctant protesters. Claire invites Adam as well. On the surface, it appears that she only wants money from him, but we all know that she secretly wants to see him. Nothing ensues aside from bountiful flirtation, but this relationship is the equivalent of a bubbling volcano. It's only a matter of time before it explodes.
On the Peter side of the story, things are looking a lot more dire. Even though Frank has it in mind that he run for governor of Pennsylvania, Peter has just been dumped, he's just closed the shipyard, and he's addicted to drugs, alcohol and hookers. He gets pushed over the edge by several angry emails (from fired shipyard workers and their families), and heads over to Frank's house in a drunken stupor to confront him.
Frank, master manipulator, somehow takes a completely intoxicated and violent man and turns him into a snivelling wimp, cowering naked in a bathtub. Frank gives him a lecture to end all lectures, and then places a razor blade on the rim of the tub. Peter's choices: suicide or sobriety? Frank promises him a run at governor if he sobers and shapes up.
The seed is planted. But will it grow? With the amount of bullshit Frank uses as fertilizer, I'm betting that yes, it will.
Best Frank Quote: "Friends make the worst enemies."
You can stream House Of Cards at any time on Netflix.
Original UK Series: "Till Death Us Do Part" The show that introduced the world to "lovable bigot" Archie Bunker, "All in the Family" was the first series to spend five consecutive years on top of the Nielsen ratings. Produced by Norman Lear and Bud Yorkin (who also adapted "Sanford and Son" from its UK predecessor) the sitcom was notable for its decision to tackle social issues that other network comedies of the time had never touched, such as homosexuality, racism, rape, abortion, breast cancer and the Vietnam war.
Original UK Series: "Steptoe and Son" This iconic NBC sitcom, which aired from 1972 until 1977, was one of the highest rated shows of its time, peaking at number 2 in the ratings behind only "All in the Family." It is considered groundbreaking for its portrayal of race, and is thought to have paved the way for "The Cosby Show" and other sitcoms centered around African American families. (Although the British original was groundbreaking in different ways, notably for its elements of social realism, it featured Caucasian leads.)
Original UK Series: "Dragon's Den" A hit in both the UK and Canada, "Dragon's Den" embodies all the elements of a hit reality show: Judges with attitude, random wackiness, and average Joes who either make money or fools of themselves. "Shark Tank" works because it didn't meddle with the winning formula -- it's harsh, cruel and blunt; it even uses two of the same "Sharks" that appear on the Canadian version.
Original UK Series: "Hell's Kitchen" The thread that ties these two together is Gordon Ramsay. Without his acerbic, curse-laden diatribes, this show would not work on either continent. There's something almost cathartic about watching "Hell's Kitchen," which might be why it works so well -- you instantly feel better about your own cooking, and you can release a bit of anger every time Ramsay yells at one of the contestants.
Original UK Series: "Shameless" Showtime's American adaptation of "Shameless" has worked for a few reasons. Most importantly, its central story of a dysfunctional family struggling to make ends meet resonated with audiences during the recession. The show also hit home runs with its casting: William H. Macy plays a great drunk, and Emmy Rossum has emerged as the show's tough, sexy breakout star.
Original UK Series: "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" There are a two very simple reasons "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" took off in the US. Number one: Every single American TV viewer would like to be a millionaire. Number two: Regis Philbin and his monochromatic shirt/tie combinations were awesome.
Original UK Series: "The Office" Ricky Gervais' British sitcom "The Office" premiered in 2001 and followed the employees of the fictional Wernham Hogg Paper Company. Though it only lasted two seasons in the UK, it lives on in the US. The American version starred Steve Carell and made him a highly-coveted film actor, and did the same for John Krasinski, Jenna Fischer and more of its stars. Now going into its ninth season, the dry humor and mockumentary-style series about the Dunder Mifflin Paper Company employees set the tone for many more comedies to come (i.e. "Modern Family").
Original UK Series: "What Not to Wear" The BAFTA-nominated original UK series "What Not To Wear" had Trinny Woodall and Susannah Constantine makeover some of the UK's most awfully dressed Brits for five seasons (before they left and Lisa Butcher and Mica Paris took over for the show's sixth and seventh seasons). Though the US installment of "What Not to Wear" premiered shortly thereafter with a bit of a rough start with Wayne Scot Lukas, the American version found its footing in Season 2. The dynamic between Stacy London and Clinton Kelly has helped the show last for nine seasons and counting.
Original UK Series: "Queer as Folk" The UK's original "Queer as Folk" made its debut in 1999 and broke gay stereotypes throughout its two seasons, as did the US remake. "Queer as Folk" premiered on Showtime stateside in 2000 and made a splash as the first hour-long drama on American television to portray the lives of gay men and women. The series covered homophobia, late-in-life gay characters, coming out, gay adoption, HIV and many more taboo subjects. "Queer as Folk" broke down cultural barriers, paving the way for series like "The L Word" to make their debut and for acceptance of the gay community at large.
Original UK Series: "Man About The House" The UK original lasted six seasons in the early-to-mid-'70s, but the US version produced more than four times as many episodes (172 in total) over its eight seasons on the air, mainly due to a hilarious cast led by the late John Ritter.
Original UK Series: "Strictly Come Dancing" Before there was Pam Anderson, Drew Lachey and Bristol Palin (just three of the U.S. version's "All Stars" for Season 15), there was the UK's "Strictly Come Dancing," which premiered in 2004 and immediately spawned international spin-offs in 32 other countries and counting.
Original UK Series: "Pop Idol" "American Idol" is a ratings juggernaut, and it's not showing many signs of slowing down. With a revolving panel of music icons as celebrity judges and a fanbase that not only votes each week for their favorite singers, but buys their music and follows the contestants on tour, this is the reality competition to beat in the ratings.
Original UK Series: "Changing Rooms" It's not easy to find designers who are personable, talented and able to deal with the demands of a microbudget, time-crunched renovation, but both of these shows managed to do that, which is why they were both long-running hits in their respective countries. On both shows, viewers got crash courses in how to remake a room for very little dough, and even if we ultimately preferred the mildly acerbic British designers, both shows were the best kind of how-to program: They made you actually think you might be able to accomplish something similar (if you got off your couch, that is).
Original UK series: "Prime Suspect" We know, we know, the Helen Mirren original is a classic character-driven cop drama and the NBC show never quite rose to the heights that the UK series did. Having said that, NBC's version of the cop show evolved into an enjoyably meaty, well-acted ensemble drama that made great use of its versatile, talented cast and a committed performance from star Maria Bello. We were all ready to doubt the US version of the show, but her Jane Timoney made believers of us during "Prime Suspect's" brief run on the Peacock network.
Original UK Series: "The Inbetweeners" Though time will tell if the MTV adaptation will be able to rival the cult appeal of the original, the first three episodes of the new comedy prove just as charming as the British show, albeit in distinctly American ways. British humor may be dry and acerbic, but the new cast has undeniable chemistry and comic timing, and it will be interesting to see where the show goes when it starts utilizing its original material, rather than the six episodes it based on the UK series.
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