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"To Play The King"
Paul Seed, BBC TV, 1990
No-one captures elegant evil like Ian Richardson, and with House of Cards he distills the phenomena to create Francis Urquhart, the arch-manipulator at the heart of this political thriller. Naturally, he defines menace and cold cunning with his portrayal of the statesman who will stop at nothing and no-one in order to achieve the office of Prime Minister, but Richardson's brilliance lies in his ability to make Urquhart simultaneously loathsome and likeable. The audience may be repelled by his ruthlessness, but his wit, coolness, preening intelligence and conspiratorial asides to camera combine to make this minister a strangely charismatic monster.
Richardson based his character on Richard III and won the Best Actor Bafta for his depiction. He is assisted by an Emmy-winning screenplay by Andrew Davies, based on the novel of the same name by Michael Dobbs. The latter's career provided more than enough experience to create Urquhart's world with icy accuracy as he worked as a political reporter in the US during the Watergate scandal before rising to become Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party under John Major. Asked if the ministers and minions inhabiting his fictitious universe were based on actual figures, he once replied with one of Urquhart's own aphorisms that, "You might well think that; I couldn't possibly comment". It's Dobbs's mixing of melodrama and plausibility which gives his drama such a compelling edge.
Other strengths include the critically acclaimed score by Jim Parker, and an excellent supporting cast. Susannah Harker, for instance, is perfect as the innocent journalist trapped in Urquhart's political labyrinth. But ultimately House of Cards is chez Richardson, with his wit, acerbity and slyness making this an ideal political thriller, even for those left cold by politics.
The serial opens with the coronation of the new monarch upon the death of Queen Elizabeth II and revolves around Francis Urquhart's political battles with the newly-crowned King, portrayed by Michael Kitchen. Although his name is never mentioned, the King bears a strong resemblance to Prince Charles.
Urquhart is also preoccupied with attempts to cover up evidence of his earlier crimes.
The series portrays a Conservative government (after the downfall of Margaret Thatcher) continuing to dominate the Labour Opposition. The King is disenchanted with the Conservative agenda and becomes involved in politics in a way that the Prime Minister finds unacceptable for a constitutional monarch.
At their first meeting The King expresses concern about Urquhart's social policies which he argues have led to greater social deprivation and social exclusion in urban areas. This tension becomes exacerbated when Urquhart moves his progressive Environment Secretary to a job in Brussels and rejects his proposals to assist poorer pensioners. The King's Assistant Press Secretary, Chloe Carmichael, leaks the outcome of the meeting to the press, which rankles Urquhart.
Episode 1 - Duration 54 minutes
Episode 2 - Duration 53 minutes
This torrent contains a complete and uncompressed copy of the original DVD including chapter structure, etc, and will produce a perfect clone when burned to DVD5.
ISO'd using DVD Decrypter & UltraISO
Source: PAL DVD, 25 fps
Audio: English 2chn
Res: 720 x 576
Disc 1 - File Information
File Name: The House of Cards Trilogy - To Play The King (1993) [DVD (iso)] Disc 1 DW Staff Approved
Duration (hh:mm:ss): 1:49:05
File Size (in bytes): 4,434,296,832
--- Video Information ---
Video Codec Name: MPEG-2
Video Bitrate (kbps): 5429
frame Width (pixels): 720
frame Height (pixels): 576
frames Per Second: 25.000
--- Audio Information ---
Audio Codec: AC3
Audio Bitrate(kbps): 192
Audio BitRate Type CBR
Audio Sample Rate 48000 Hz
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