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I'm not sure how to react to the latest and fifth season of "House of Cards" on Netflix. I've always been a big fan of the saga of Frank Underwood, the conniving and power-hungry politician played by Kevin Spacey, whose character and mode of operations can be best defined by his initials.

The thing is, events seem to have caught up with "House of Cards," and so the areas in which the series' plots might seem to be pushing the envelope now can seem almost tame by comparison. There are places where the series go too far, as when it posits that Underwood and his wife, Claire (played with chilling Lady Macbeth effectiveness by Robin Wright), could run as a ticket for the presidency and vic-presidency. But then there are moments where plot turns seem almost prescient, especially when you consider that this newest season's episodes were largely concocted before the Trump presidency.

There are ways in which "House of Cards" has been too deeply cynical about politics, even for me. I can't help myself; I believe (or hope) that there have to be some people in government who are more focused on the needs of the people than they are on the accumulation of power and influence. (I am proven wrong on this almost every day. I am, apparently and unexpectedly, a cockeyed optimist.)

That all said ... I find "House of Cards" almost impossible to turn away from ... not exactly like a train wreck because it is so effectively written, produced and acted, but because it is such a unique combination of over-the-top high drama and low soap opera, with satire and comedy thrown in. Almost every episode has a "holy crap" moment, and they're worth waiting for.

The new season, which focuses on a presidential campaign that makes Bush-Gore look tame and decisive by comparison, has two wonderful additions to the cast - Patricia Clarkson as a mid-level government bureaucrat who has a deep and mysterious understanding of how the levers of power are operated; one gets the sense that she was there before the Underwoods and will be there long afterward, and that it is because of people like her that government actually works ... as much as we hate that reality. She personifies the notion of invisible power and influence, and Clarkson is wonderful.

And, Campbell Scott plays Mark Usher a political operative who understands that the names and political parties change, but the realities and limitations of power never change. Scott is the son of George C. Scott and Colleen Dewhurst, and in some ways he seems to be channeling his dad in this performance ... and I say that as a high compliment.

"House of Cards" pushed its luck sometimes, but I find myself hoping for a season six. Mostly because I want to know how it all turns out in an alternative universe that sometimes seems uncomfortably familiar.
KC's View: