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To Play the King (Review)

The wonderful folks at the BBC have given me access to their BBC Global iPlayer for a month to give the service a go and trawl through the archives. Read my thoughts on the service here, but I thought I’d also take the opportunity to enjoy some of the fantastic content.

You’ve got the King against the Prime Minister, the Lords against the Commons. The bishops are in now, you’ve got “don’t blame the royals”, and – in particular – you’ve got Urquhart’s plan to bring down the monarchy for good and all. And they’ve all played the personal morality card. Every one of them. Which means, in my book, that everybody’s private life is now up for grabs. And I mean everybody’s!

– Sir Bruce Bullerby sums it up

The second part of the House of Cards trilogy has some fairly interesting subject matter. While Francis Urquharts Machiavellian rise to power was enough to ground the first four-part serial, it does occasionally feel like To Play The King has just a bit too much going on. Of course, Andrew Davies’ tight scripting ensures that all the necessary subplots are tidied up before we reach the end credits of the final episode, but things do occasionally feel just a little bit too packed. Still, it’s hard to blame a television show for having too much substance, and there’s a compelling issue at the heart of To Play The King, as novelist Michael Dodds takes the opportunity to explore Britain’s constitutional monarchy, and the possibility of friction that a proactive King might present.

A crowning accomplishment for the BBC?

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Non-Review Review: The Iron Lady

Margaret Thatcher is a complex character. She’s certainly a divisive political figure, but I think that her detractors and her supporters would both admit that the woman isn’t a two-dimensional pop psychology case. The biggest problem with The Iron Ladyis the way that it attempts to offer a simplistic analysis of Thatcher, presenting her as a failure of a wife and a mother who compensated by running her cabinet and her country like a stern matriarch. While Streep gives a solid performance, and director Phyllida Lloyd tries her best to make the movie visually engaging, it feels a bit cheap and shallow. It doesn’t help that the movie trots out the familiar Oscar-baiting bio-pic clichés as if it were assembling an IKEA cabinet. Whatever you may think of Thatcher, she deserved more nuance and complexity than The Iron Lady affords her.

The Broad(bent) strokes...

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