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Post 04 Feb 2013, 12:57 pm

I'm about halfway through the first season. Some quick thoughts (no spoliers):

This show should do well amongst diplomacy players. Spacey's character is as Machiavellian as they get.

I don't know if there are any (main) characters that are actually likable. I can appreciate and root for them, but sit down and drink a beer? No thanks. That's not necessarily a flaw but it's one of the reasons the show is rather dark.

I'm not a real deep thinker when it comes to TV critique but I know what I like and this fits right in. Two thumbs up.
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Post 04 Feb 2013, 3:16 pm

How close is it to the original UK series (or the Michael Dobbs books)?
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Post 04 Feb 2013, 3:48 pm

Can't say. Never saw or read either.
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Post 04 Feb 2013, 8:51 pm

I watched the first episode, a day or two ago and liked it enough to give the second one a chance. Your encouragement helps!
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Post 05 Feb 2013, 3:50 am

I watched some of the original British version when it was broadcast in the States in the '90's. "Machivellian as they get" sums it up pretty well. If my memory serves, the young female reporter was portrayed in a favorable, likable way.

What was the phrase the main character liked so say? 'You might think that; I wouldn't comment' or something like that?
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Post 05 Feb 2013, 4:14 pm

Rudewalrus wrote:What was the phrase the main character liked so say? 'You might think that; I wouldn't comment' or something like that?
It was "you might say that, I couldn't possibly comment", with a knowing raised eyebrow. Francis Urquhart is one of the all time great manipulators in that series.
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Post 12 Mar 2013, 10:20 am

Just finished "House of Cards" this weekend. It is a worthwhile way to spend 13 hours of my life: Netflix makes it so easy to fill those wasted hours: I must have watched half of the episodes on my phone while waiting for this or that. I didn't give the title any thought until the last episode. By then it was, "Oh . . . now I understand the title." Next season is going to be even better, I bet, and then I'm guessing it will end.
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Post 16 Dec 2013, 10:07 pm

*IS* "The House of Cards" (Kevin Spacey) based on "The House of Cards" (on BBC)? As I said in another thread on Redscape, there is no way they really could do the American series in the same way, since we are a presidential republic, and not a parliamentary democracy/"cabinet" government. A member of Congress cannot "run for the leadership" to become president of a presidential republic, the same way an M.P. could do the same, and end up prime minister or cabinet minister, just by intrigue: he'd have to actually run for president separately, which would be far more difficult and time consuming than a simple (well, not that simple!) "leadership fight" in a parliamentary/ministerial government.

The former would take far more time and effort. Machiavellian intrigue would not be enough to catapult a member of Congress into the White House (even if he was already a senator, the upper house of Congress, as presidents are usually senators, or governors of states, not representatives/the lower house---and senators, no offense to Obama supporters, make shittier presidents than state governors :P )

I have watched the entire 1st series of the latter, on Netflix. Yeah he's real evil, throws a bloody reporter from the roof of the House of Commons. Holy s***! (sorry if that was a spoiler)

In the third series (I kinda flipped through the 2nd and 3rd series--"To Play the King" and "The Final Cut" rather than watched them in a truly linear fashion) the Foreign Secretary is running against him for the leadership, and uses that line. Urquhart, watching him on TV with his wife, says "That BASTARD!" when the F.S. says it. Very funny moment.

But the end of "The Final Cut" was like HOLY CRAP!!!!!!! "I'm sorry, Francis. It was the only way." OMG...
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Post 17 Dec 2013, 9:22 am

I did answer that. It is based on the original BBC series, itself based on a seried of novels. Howerver, the Netflix version is of course different enough to be realistic and in line with the US system (mind you, didn't a rookie Congressman become President quite recently?). he storylines are, I hope, not too similar (else what would be the point) and the characters not mere transplants with accents. But as I understand it, it is not the Presidency that Frank Underwood is aiming for in the new incarnation.

Btw, bad form on the spoiler. Glad we didn't have the interwebs in 1990 as that would have given the game away quite badly for series 1 (and at the time the sequel had not been written let alone commissioned as a second series).
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Post 17 Dec 2013, 3:57 pm

To be somewhat pedantic:

In American usage, "Congressman/Congresswoman" is the title for a member of the House of Representatives. A member of the Senate, although also in Congress, is titled "Senator". The generic usage to include both is "Member of Congress".

So, while a rookie Senator was indeed elected President not long ago, it's been very rare for a Congressman to move directly into the Presidency. Gerald Ford was a Congressman, for instance, but no rookie. He had lots of seniority and was Minority Leader (the highest position in the House for a Republican, in those days of Democratic domination), when he was appointed to be Vice President to replace Spiro Agnew, and then became President not long after, when Richard Nixon resigned.

Also, I agree that spoilers are bad form. Every once in a while, "Jeopardy!" does a whole category of spoilers, and I hate that. There are a ton of famous books and movies from the past that I haven't gotten around to reading or seeing but intend to, and it bugs me to have them give away endings as though "everybody" knows them already.

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Post 17 Dec 2013, 4:32 pm

A member of Congress cannot "run for the leadership" to become president of a presidential republic, the same way an M.P. could do the same, and end up prime minister or cabinet minister, just by intrigue: he'd have to actually run for president separately, which would be far more difficult and time consuming than a simple (well, not that simple!) "leadership fight" in a parliamentary/ministerial government.


The way Francis Urquhart did it would be much more difficult in our system these days as well. All the major parties now require some form of election to become party leader. Back when Michael Dobbs wrote the books the Tories selected their leader solely through a vote of their MPs, which obviously allowed for much more in the way of interesting shenanigans. They now have a mixed system where MPs whittle the candidates down to two who then go forward to a national vote of party members, much like a presidential primary. Labour's system allows for a bit more in the way of machiavellian intrigue because it's a somewhat dubious electoral college system split between MPs, party members and trade unions. The current leader, Ed Miliband, actually lost (to his elder brother no less) among both MPs and members but dominated the trade union block vote and so ended up becoming leader. Prior to that Gordon Brown became Prime Minister without having to face a vote at all because he was unopposed. Generally speaking though it's not that simple.
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Post 17 Dec 2013, 4:48 pm

Sass - incorrect on the Trade Union 'block vote'. Individual members voted in the Trade Union section for the Labour leadership. The block vote has not existed since the early 1990s (John Smith was leader when it was abolished)
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Post 18 Dec 2013, 1:33 pm

Well yes, I know that really.

How does it work btw ? If you're both a Labour member and a union affiliate do you get to vote twice ? I'm guessing not, but I don't see how easy it would be to police that.

This makes fascinating reading btw:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Par ... tion,_2010

It gives a full breakdown of how the votes divided after each round, when the preferences were transferred. David Miliband was ahead for each round except the last one, but the interesting thing is that his vote barely increased from one round to the next. He began with 111 MPs, 55905 Labour members and 58189 union members and finished with 140 MPs, 66814 Labour members and 80266 union members. His brother started with 84, 37980, 87585 and ended with 122, 55992 and 119405. It seems like almost all the preferences went to Ed.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons I think. Firstly, it shows that there really wasn't much enthusiasm out there for Ed Miliband. He lost both members and MPs in every round and only limped over the line at the death thanks to 4th preference votes. But there again there wasn't much enthusiasm for David either I guess since he barely got any preferences at all. It's also interesting to note that 2/3 of the people who voted for Ed Miliband as leader are not actually members of the Labour party. I think you have to question a system that can produce a result like that. It's reasonable to suppose that party members have both a much bigger stake in who the next leader is and also are more likely to have been paying attention and so have more informed knowledge of the candidates. They voted for David. Ed owes his position entirely to casual affiliates who may vote Labour in elections but aren't nearly so involved in the party and don't have the same stake in the outcome. Since Ed is pretty much universally seen as having been a disastrous choice perhaps a change to the system might be in order ?
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Post 18 Dec 2013, 5:26 pm

Sassenach wrote:Well yes, I know that really.

How does it work btw ? If you're both a Labour member and a union affiliate do you get to vote twice ? I'm guessing not, but I don't see how easy it would be to police that.
Actually you do get to vote more than once. An MP (or MEP) who is a member of a Trade Union, and also of any other 'socialist societies' can end up having several votes. But of different weights.

This makes fascinating reading btw:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labour_Par ... tion,_2010

It gives a full breakdown of how the votes divided after each round, when the preferences were transferred. David Miliband was ahead for each round except the last one, but the interesting thing is that his vote barely increased from one round to the next. He began with 111 MPs, 55905 Labour members and 58189 union members and finished with 140 MPs, 66814 Labour members and 80266 union members. His brother started with 84, 37980, 87585 and ended with 122, 55992 and 119405. It seems like almost all the preferences went to Ed.

This is interesting for a couple of reasons I think. Firstly, it shows that there really wasn't much enthusiasm out there for Ed Miliband. He lost both members and MPs in every round and only limped over the line at the death thanks to 4th preference votes. But there again there wasn't much enthusiasm for David either I guess since he barely got any preferences at all. It's also interesting to note that 2/3 of the people who voted for Ed Miliband as leader are not actually members of the Labour party. I think you have to question a system that can produce a result like that. It's reasonable to suppose that party members have both a much bigger stake in who the next leader is and also are more likely to have been paying attention and so have more informed knowledge of the candidates. They voted for David. Ed owes his position entirely to casual affiliates who may vote Labour in elections but aren't nearly so involved in the party and don't have the same stake in the outcome. Since Ed is pretty much universally seen as having been a disastrous choice perhaps a change to the system might be in order ?
Ed was more people's favoured Miliband. I didn't vote for him as my first preference, though (that was Andy Burnham).

The system is a compromise - basically it is the "Labour Party" because it was founded by the unions, for their members. Whether union members are more or less 'casual' supporters, those who vote are the ones who are paying subs through their union membership (and those who don't choose to pay the political levy aren't asked to vote), so they do have some stake, just less of one per person. As such their vote is worth less - and only those who have an interest are likely to vote. The Affiliates includes things like the Fabian Society, who are quite engaged.

I am not sure I like the system all that much, but it's better than the old one (the MPs alone choose Callaghan, Foot and Kinnock)
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Post 19 Dec 2013, 12:19 pm

Correction - Kinnock was elected using an electoral college. Then Affiliated votes were 40% of the college (CLPs 30%, MPs & MEPS 30%) and the block vote was used. So the present 1/3 with 'OMOV' [one member, one vote] is an improvement, albeit fairly slight, but the arguments over the change in 1993 were quite heated at the time.

By taking the power away from the union leaders, it does mean that a winner who took a lot of union votes is less beholden to those leaders. Even though they are democratic organisations, union members don't necessarily agree with the leadership on everything.

Anyway, I worked it out. An MP's individual vote is worth about 475x that of a Party member's vote, and 800x that of a union vote (based on the last election, turnout and the number of people in each of the three sections will vary).

In other words, an MP or MEP had 0.125% of the overall vote on that basis alone. If they were using their member vote, a union vote and one socialist society that would have been an extra 0.0006%. So multiple votes across sections doesn't make much difference for them.