The following review contains major SPOILERS!!! Do not read it if you haven’t finished Season 3.
Even after I had watched only a few episodes of the American version of House of Cards, I told myself I wouldn’t watch a fourth season if they made one. I made that resolution because of a particular phobia I have with shows that run too long. This comes from two beloved shows that were ruined by running too long: the original The Prisoner (not the bizarre remake) and Twin Peaks. Both were limited ideas that were expanded because of ratings (i.e. money) and both were semi-ruined in the process. (Both shows start off excellent, for their time, and eventually have moments that qualify as terrible.) These beliefs have only been confirmed of late, with good and excellent short series being extended simply because they were successful – and sometimes also because the cast just wants to keep working together. These shows are extended past their premises, all to their detriment. I am thinking of shows like The Bridge, Broadcurch, and The Fall. I gave up on the latter two despite really enjoying them and recommending them to others.
And so, well before I ever watched the British version of House of Cards, I knew it was only three “series,” and so I knew the American one should only be three seasons or fewer, really, as it’s already way, way longer than its source.
And now, after watching the finale of the American season 3 last night, I find myself annoyed because I believe that they want a season 4, even if it hasn’t been announced yet. Everyone who has already finished this season has come to a similar conclusion, because if you google “House of Cards season 4” you find all sorts of speculation about a 4th season, because, of course, the finale leaves you with a strong belief that there will be a 4th season – and a strong desire for a 4th season, I suspect, if you haven’t watched the British version. And that’s because this version of the story fails to kill off Underwood in the finale.
Now, I don’t pretend to claim that the end of Urquhart in the original is particularly believable. And I have not read the novels and I do not know whether or not it’s close to the novel. But this show is not particularly believable and, frankly, it’s run it’s course. The third season of the American version is the least interesting, the least effective and the most directionless. But, despite all that, they still want to make us sit through another 13 hours after that?
I am not amused. Frankly, because I idiotically watched the British version before I got this far, I spent the entire 3rd season waiting for Stamper (or someone else, potentially) to kill Underwood. And instead all I get is a breakup.
Not all changes in source material are bad, but arguably this has already strayed very far from the source and the metaphorical house of cards feels like it is slowly sliding down on to the table, not collapsing as it would – and as it does in the British version.
7/10 overall, 8/10 for the first two seasons.