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Tag: Reality Index

House of Cards Season 4: Reality Index

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I just finished watching the 4th season of House of Cards, or as I like to refer to this season: Below and Beyond. For a show that should feel Shakespearean in scope; Bill is nowhere in sight. The three main points I gathered this season were: no one knows their proper place/ position ( if a pipe needs fixing, ask the First Lady – she can do anything), the power of rehearsal ( an inordinate amount of time was given to people practicing their lines – I kinda like this fact because always talking off the cuff will eventually reveal how utterly out of your depth you are) and lastly how enamored the public is with speechifying  at this moment in time. Take a minute and do a quick count in your head as to how many rhetoric laced speeches we hear on a daily basis. Soapbox salesmen must be making a killing. Obviously, there’s an election going on in the show and in real life, but who knew we were so craving to hear other people soundbite our fears, hopes and dreams to the tune of billions of dollars so they can turn around in the future and slash budgets for sorely needed services because there’s no money. The irony would be delicious if it were’t so scary. Speaking of scary: scary Underwoods are way more fun to watch then feuding Underwoods, so how did they do?

Again, I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits. Warning Spoilers

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The Underwoods are nothing if not consistent. The plausibility of their actions according to their characters is always intact but the plausibility of their actions according to their stations well let’s say – what’s in a title? They are the President and the First Lady, but have a hard time getting respect from terrorists and flower arrangers alike. I’m sure, the first thing anyone would imagine themselves doing if they were ever invited into the Oval office is to sit on the President’s desk like they owned the place like Governor Conway did.

This scores him major points on the reality side: lack of respect for the position of the Presidency. In this day and age you don’t even have to have held public office for a single day to feel you’re qualified for the most powerful position in the western world. The Presidency looks like something you’d be really really good at. Perceived entitlement is the only job qualification. +100 points

Speaking of the Conways, they’re kind of perfect. They should definitely get everything they want in this life. Instagram as Norman Rockwell painting: +50 points

This also leads to my favourite line this season, maybe in the history of H of C. When asked if Claire regrets not having children by Cathy Conway, Claire responds, “Do you regret having them?” -so cold, so good. + 50 points

Plus besides, how would Claire explain to her kids why Tom the writer was always having super quiet silent breakfast time with them? Meacham is dead, long live Meachem. +50 points

A resounding 250 points in the real column! But on the flip-side…..

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When producing a TV show there are some things that are unavoidable; like what do you do when you biggest star is in a coma? Do you have them just lay their doing nothing for a couple of episodes? Solution: unnecessary dream sequences -check. You also spend a lot of money on accurate recreation set pieces so you might as well use them.Why else would you have letter-opener death threats in the Oval office? (I guess that is kind of believable). This is also the only reason I can imagine, even in this completely fantastical world, where the Conways would stay in Claire’s bedroom. It is obviously done for the opportunity for candid exchanges between the antagonists and provided for my favourite line of the series, but Claire ain’t having no rugrats jumping on her bed. – 50 points.

Speaking of people being in places they shouldn’t be. The First Lady had her finger in so many pies this season she might as well be the Vice President, oh wait..

Claire strong arming the Russian President – 50 points

Claire negotiating with the head of an international terrorist organization. Did no one watch season three when she went to negotiate with  another prisoner? -50 points

The final scene that shows every character in the Situation room. It’s like they won a  radio contest – win a chance to watch a public execution with the President live in the Situation Room. What are those people doing in there? – 50 points.

The only person not in the Situation room was a bloody translator when the terrorist goes off script. “I wonder what he’s saying? Let’s just look at one another and let him keep speaking until he says something in English again.” -100 points

Lastly, for a season so obsessed with information tracking on the net, why would a Frank smear campaign involve a photocopy billboard of his dad shaking hands with a member of the KKK instead of leaking the image online? -20 points   Oh wait, being aligned with intolerant racism is no longer the political deathblow it should be, we can scratch that last one. 0 points

300 for the unreal.

Another season, another reason to go above and beyond the limit of plausibility. As far as this show goes, it’s got nothing on reality.

Season 3  Season 2

House of Cards Season 3: Reality Index

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I just finished binge watching the 3rd season of House of Cards or as I like to refer to this season: How Stamper Got His Groove Back. This was a pretty Doug heavy season -which produced mixed results. Frank’s the president and Claire’s the first lady struggling to make America and the rest of the world bend to their wills. Another thing that was meant to bend this season:reality.

Again, I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits. Warning Spoilers

house-of-cards-s03-18.w529.h352As P.M. Dawn so eloquently put it, “reality used to be a friend of mine.” The writers this season played hard and fast with the idea of plausibility, but if you bought into the first two seasons then you knew where you stood. Heavy is the head that wears the crown and this season did a good job of showing the strain and hardships that come with the job.

Secret stash of smokes making their way from bowl on bookshelf to easily accessible top desk drawer. I’ll take presidents who smoke for +10

Frank’s hair turning white quicker than Claire’s going from blonde to brown, back to blonde again +10

The light-headed and the sleep-deprived tend to over-share +10

The reemergence of the eighties’ stereotypical Russian villain +20  WOLVERINES!?!!

….. and speaking of reemergences – Cashew steals the show +50

A cool 100 on the believability scale.

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On the side of the over the top happenings of season 3, I would like to start off with this season’s use of bodily fluids as power-play maneuver. Frank doesn’t miss an opportunity to relieve himself (in multiple ways) causing all manner of desecration. While his actions come off as blatant and cartoonish, it is Claire who really steals the cup. In what I can only call ‘the bathroom summit’ Claire Underwood negotiates American foreign policy while sitting on her throne. -20

Claire’s Russian prison scarf fiasco -20

If you’ve lied, cheated and murdered your way to the top; perhaps its not the best idea to hire an ex-junkie street hustler to write the story of your life. I predict this (hopefully in season 4) will not end well for anyone involved, especially the writer. -10

Doug Stamper has still got it with the ladies. Is it that they can’t help but be drawn to his gift for gab, habit of always being on his phone in their presence or those sexy hours he spends watching c-span that drives the ladies wild? -20

Being the chief of staff to the president must offer a few perks that other jobs can’t afford. I guess you can hop on  a plane whenever you like to fly half way around the world to beat a man with your cane to find out where your ex-prostitute girlfriend lives so you can later track her down and kill her and then bury her body in the desert all the while an election campaign is going on. -50

Shovel-check, bleach-check, rope-check, beat-up suspicious van-check “So what brings you to our little town, sight-seeing?” -20

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“Reality used to be a friend of mine,
‘Cause complete control, I don’t take too kind.”

Could happen 100  Wait What!??? -140

Another season veers off the rails- “That’s the way it goes, I guess.”

Season 2

House of Cards: Reality Index

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Season 2 of Netflix’s House of Cards has left me divided. It has left me with the same feeling you get after consuming fast food. It’s tasty while you’re eating it, but afterwards you don’t feel full, you just feel different. Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright are still very watchable, absolute power corrupts absolutely – check, but I found more often than naught my suspension of disbelief was having a hard time getting to first base. Seduction was an underlying theme of this season but it was heavy on the dangling carrot and light on the Barry White. I think I take my cuff-links with a little less tie the damsel to railroad tracks symbolism. Speaking of that…. there will be spoilers.

Ok, so I’m going to borrow steal the brilliant recap format from the high watermark of all TV recaps: Vulture’s Gossip Girl coverage. (They made watching a bad show fun.) This is how it works: points are awarded when events seem believable and deducted when the events are a little too implausible. At the end, we’ll tally the score and see if our tale of the Underwoods veers into the realms of the unreal, and yes I do know this is a TV show but even TV has its limits.

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A testament to House of Cards’ believability is that it plays on the idea that somewhere in the back of our minds we secretly believe that politics is as greasy as it’s portrayed. The question “Do you think Washington is really like that?” or some version of it has probably been uttered in every living room from coast to coast and beyond. This is the opportune moment for the current reigning household authority on all things pop culture/politics /conspiracy theories to either confirm or deny this proposal. This is also the opportune moment to look at your roommate/significant other/soul mate/ life coach/binge watching buddy and think you’re so full of…….. the truth or what have you. +10

Frank’s and Claire’s lust for power above all else seems plausible. They will use and dispose of anyone in their path. No one is immune: old flames, new flames, friends, colleagues, favourite chefs  and so on. +10

The fact they hung the smear campaign infidelity portrait of Claire in their home to complete the lie. +20

The idea the President of the United States could use a Xanax. +20

Between books, reenactments, miniature figurines and all manner of souvenirs, the American Civil War is big business, that and some old wounds still haven’t healed. +10

The pressures of Washington could drive any bird lover to snap a few necks. +10

The threesome seems just about right for all the people involved: Claire gets a little of what she burned down with the photographer, Frank gets to relive his college days and the chauffeur is just doing his duty. The Underwoods seem more like a business arrangement than a married couple, so what’s a little mutual affair? +5

85 on the believability scale, not bad but let’s see about the flip-side of the coin.

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When one ties a damsel to a railroad track you always run the risk of some do-gooder showing up at the last minute spoiling your well laid plans. So instead of fumbling with some complicated knot; a good quick shove really does the job. The idea that the Vice President of the United States disguised only in a film-noir fedora would do his own dirty work in a crowded subway station with only one working surveillance camera, well…. Add the fact that they assigned Chief Wiggum to the case…. -30 This did however supply one of those I can’t believe what I just saw TV moments.

Doug’s middle aged balding sex appeal is so alluring that every nubile twenty-something woman can’t help but fall into bed with him. -20

The super intelligent mastermind hacker who uses Hieronymus Bosch’s Garden of Earthly Delights references to allude to the  deep web would name his pet guinea pig Cashew. -5

The President and the First Lady are so ditsy that they can be run out of office for offences they didn’t commit. Frank had more trouble throwing a baseball than ousting the most powerful man in the free world. -50

Even though she was told that Frank was out to get her husband, the First Lady sees nothing wrong with divulging a little career crippling personal information to Claire. -10

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-115 on the ‘that could happen scale’, with a total score of 85-115= -30

Overall we slipped into the implausible, but just like fast food -we know we shouldn’t, but what’s a little implausibility every once in a while.