Pausing for effect in Netflix’s House of Cards

For some reason, I decided that watching House of Cards would be a great way to escape the horrifying news cycle we’re in.  Oh, 2017!

Netflix's House of Cards
Source: House of Cards Facebook

House of Cards, like Breaking Bad or Mad Men, tells the story of an anti-hero, which is someone who “lives in a universe with a much more cynical [and] ambiguous moral code.”  Pretty much the complete opposite of Captain America or Superman.

More specifically, Frank Underwood is an unscrupulous anti-hero.  He justifies his dubious actions by pointing to the more sinister behaviour of people surrounding him.  He’s bad with a purpose.

Here’s what happened in the first half of the pilot:

  • Frank Underwood finds a dog that has recently been hit by a car and, in a chilling moment, he kills the dog to put it out of its “useless pain.”
  • Frank doesn’t get the coveted Secretary of State role he was promised, but that’s no problem because him and his wife Claire plot their revenge by breaking expensive-looking glass, staying up all night and speaking in dulcet tones.
  • Frank agrees to help the incoming Secretary of Education draft a comprehensive education reform bill within the first 100 days.
TV Tuttle in Washington
I went to Washington once. Fortunately, my experience wasn’t like anything on House of Cards.

Here are my predictions:

  • Frank kills the guy that was going to be Secretary of State – FALSE. Seeing Frank enter the theatre and play a first-person shooter game gave me some serious Abe Lincoln vibes.  I guess he’s not that bad.
  • Claire starts a corrupt business dealing that hurts people in need– NOT YET. However, she does approve a measure that would mean firing half of the staff at her charity.  Seems kind of shady.
  • Nicholas Cage pops in and steals the declaration of independence – FALSE. But a guy can dream, right?
  • Things I did predict accurately: Zoey gets leverage over Frank; Frank blackmails a fellow congress person (Peter).

House of Cards is definitely the most interesting show I’ve watched so far for this blog.  Can’t wait to see how the rest of the show turns out!

TV Tuttle rates House of Cards 4.5/5 vengeful racks of ribs.

House of Cards rating: 4.5/5 vengeful racks of ribs

Sinking my teeth into The Vampire Diaries

This week on (the first half of) The Vampire Diaries (S8,E8):

  1. Vampire bros Stefan & Damon place a bet on whether this kind doctor named Tara is mean enough to kill Damon.
  2. Caroline (nice vampire) discovers that Sybil (mean vampire) uses mind control to get students to locate an old, magic bell. Sybil threatens to kill the students if Caroline can’t find the bell in time.
  3. An angsty father-son combo do some research about an old family bell (aha!).
Stefan & Damon, The Vampire Diaries
Vampire brothers Stefan & Damon

This episode (and probably most of TVD) follows what Christopher Booker describes as the “Overcoming the Monster” plot, which involves a seemingly invincible monster, a narrow escape from death, and a prize for the hero (usually a princess or treasure).

The Seven Basic Plots, Christopher Booker
By Source, Fair use,

Using Booker’s ideas, I made the following predictions:

  • Stefan loses control & enjoys being evil more than he should, reverting closer to his “Ripper” history– TRUE! Turns out he’s on a secret mission to be evil, but only temporarily?  Oh, and he devoured a whole bunch of hospital staff at the end.  Yikes.
  • Sybil doesn’t find the magic bell – TRUE! Someone named Selene has it, but apparently she’s hiding in the 1800’s.
  • Sybil’s students narrowly escape death– TRUE! Angsty father-son pair Peter and Matt save them, literally seconds before they all go up in flames. Phew!
  • Caroline wards off Sybil temporarily, but is stuck with her for a bit longer– TRUE! Turns out Caroline’s kids are in exile somewhere but Sybil could hurt them?
  • Tara lives – FALSE! I was too hopeful…I thought she’d outwit Stefan and Damon.  Unfortunately, she passed their ‘test’ and therefore, had to die.
How I felt while watching The Vampire Diaries
Thoughts while watching The Vampire Diaries.

Overall, the episode was pretty cringe-worthy.  From cheesy dialogue to overdone tropes, monotone, trying-to-make-vampires-sexy acting, magic plot elements (mind control much?) and even a weird case of vampire cat-calling, I’ll be perfectly content to tune into other channels from here on out.

TV Tuttle gives this episode 1.5/5 mind controlling vampire bats.

1.5/5 mind controlling vampire bats