Machiavellian monster

Get your creep on with original House of Cards

Whether they binge-watched it over a single weekend, or drew out the evil slowly over weeks or months, millions of viewers were captivated by the slick, conspiratorial congressman from the South, Francis Underwood, in the Netflix original series House of Cards.

Just one of the back-row boys

But the incredible Kevin Spacey wasn’t the original Francis. That honor goes to Ian Richardson and his unctuous Francis Urquhart, who brought the character to life in the BBC’s Emmy-winning 1990 production of the bestseller by Michael Dobbs.

Now you can sit beside the British Francis as he backstabs and manipulates his way through Parliament when KET begins the House of Cards Trilogy Monday, June 16 at 9/8 pm on KET and Saturday, June 21 at 11/10 pm on KET2.

The story, while understandably altered for its American setting in the Spacey version, is basically the same: snubbed by the new prime minster for a senior cabinet post, Chief Whip Urquhart sets his sights on ruining Prime Minister Collingridge, much as Frank Underwood undermined the president.

The asides Francis give us, the audience, are intact as well, and if anything, are more pronounced. Unfortunately for us, through these uncomfortably intimate “conversations,” Urquhart’s machinations become a shared responsibility. Like it or not, you’re going to be his co-conspirator.

The British House of Cards moves much more quickly and presents fewer side plots than the American version. The wife looms more in the background than Robin Wright’s cold Claire Underwood, yet she’s just as in step with her husband’s ambitions.

Mattie Storin

Also central to the story is the young reporter, here named Mattie Storin, who quickly becomes enamored with the Chief Whip who worms his way into her journalistic heart by passing along juicy political tidbits. His favorite phrase in confirming what he wants to see in print, “You might think that, Mattie — I couldn’t possibly comment,” becomes a prelude to their eventual mutually beneficial affair.

There are delectable touches throughout — frequent long shots of rats along the Thames with the House of Parliament looming pompously in the background, the regal, bombastic theme music which belies the corruption it trumpets.

Seeing the Netflix version is, of course, not essential to a delicious viewing experience of the trilogy. After the initial four-part House of Cards, we’ll present the follow-up To Play the King and The Final Cut.

It adds up to a summer of mesmerizing, evil entertainment — even if, after an hour saturated by Urquhart’s corrupt mind, you’ll no doubt feel compelled to take a long, hot, cleansing bath.

“You might think that. I couldn’t possibly comment.”

 

Brazil with Michael Palin

The intrepid traveler heads to South America

There usually aren’t any pythons in the jungles of Brazil — they’re native to Africa and Asia — but that’s not stopping Michael Palin of Monty Python’s Flying Circus fame.

Better known today for his travel series, Palin begins a new adventure to Brazil — the country that’ll be hosting not only the soccer World Cup but the next summer Olympics as well.

In Brazil with Michael Palin, a new four-part program, he travels from the lost world of Amazonia to the buzzing metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, to meet the people and visit the places that shape the nation. The country is considered one of the rising global powers, with vast natural resources, an expanding industrial base, and a strong currency.

The program premieres Monday, June 9 at 10/9 pm on KET and Sunday, June 15 at 8/7 pm on KET2.

The famous Copacabana Beach

Michael’s odyssey begins in the northeast, where modern Brazil was born. He starts in the city of Sao Luis before traveling down the coast to Recife and Salvador, dropping in on the vaqueros — Brazilian cowboys — who work on vast cattle ranches.

Michael with cowboys

His travels also take him south to the stunning coastal lagoons of the Lencois Maranhenses National Park. In Salvador, he learns to drum with the famous Olodum School and has a lesson in cooking Bahian-style, before finding out what lies behind the beguiling moves of capoeira dancers.

Three ladies in Bahian dresses

In the second program, “Into Amazonia,” Palin travels on several rivers through the very heart of Amazonia. Meeting the Yanomami tribe, he talks to their spokesperson about the threats to their way of life.

Yanomami men prepare for the dance.

He visits the magnificent Manaus Opera House and samples some exotic Amazonian foods in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon. Traveling southward to the upper reaches of the Xingu River, Palin is welcomed to the Wauja tribe, one of the most colorful of all the Brazilian indigenous peoples.

In the next program, “On the road to Rio,” Michael visits the source of Brazil’s great mineral wealth — the state of Minas Gerais and its giant mines. Here, he meets some ordinary Brazilians dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the state.

Michael explores the fruit market in Rio de Janeiro with Fábio Sombra

Then he’s off to Rio de Janeiro, host of the next Olympics and World Cup. Rio has always been a party town, but it’s also blighted by drugs and gang violence. While there, he learns how to celebrate a goal like a Brazilian radio commentator and books a room in one of the city’s famous “love hotels!”

On the final leg of his journey, “The Deep South,” Michael starts in the picture-perfect town of Paraty, where he meets with Prince João de Bragança, heir to the defunct throne of Brazil. At Embraer and Sao Paolo, Palin meets some of Brazil’s successful politicians, heads of business and TV soap stars, who all have mixed opinions on Brazil’s future.

After experiencing the beauty and serenity of the vast wetlands of the Pantanal, Palin ends his journey at the magnificent Iguazu Falls, where he concludes that Brazil has much to offer the world as it takes its place as a potential new superpower.

Iguazu Falls

 

Soundtrack for your summer

It’s Bluegrass Week — join the celebration

“Masters of Bluegrass”

With the premiere program featuring the acknowledged masters of bluegrass music, Jubilee kicks off an all-new season — and a special week of programs dedicated to the bounty of music created right here in the Bluegrass State.

“Masters of Bluegrass,” airing Tuesday, June 10 at 8/7 pm on KET, features Del McCoury on guitar and vocals, Bobby Osborne on mandolin and vocals, J.D. Crowe on banjo, Bobby Hicks on fiddle, and Jerry McCoury on bass and vocals. The program also features behind-the-scenes interviews with these bluegrass legends.

Then, in Jubilee Live we present the live performance of Grammy- and IBMA award-winners Steep Canyon Rangers at Paulie’s Toasted Barrel. It’s a part of Lexington’s Best of Bluegrass (BOB) festival and airs Wednesday, June 11 at 9/8 pm on KET2.

Then, see five-time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley perform at Thursday Night Live in downtown Lexington Thursday, June 12 at 5:30/4:30 pm on KET KY.

Jubilee airs every Tuesday at 8/7 pm on KET and Saturday nights at midnight/11 pm on KET2.

Don’t be blue! It’s Bluegrass Week

Keep your mandolin-love alive with these programs airing throughout the week.

Headwaters: Real Stories from Rural America: The Ralph Stanley Story
KET KY Sunday, June 8 at 9/8 pm and Thursday, June 12 at 11/10 pm

In Performance at the Governor’s Mansion: Bluegrass Royalty
KET KY Monday, June 9 at 8/7 pm and Wednesday, June 11 at noon/11 am

A Kentucky Treasure: The J.D. Crowe Story
KET2 Monday, June 9 at 9:30/8:30 pm; KET KY Saturday, June 14 at 8/7 pm

Powerful: Bill Monroe Remembered
KET Tuesday, June 10 at 9/8 pm; KET KY Saturday, June 14 at 10/9 pm

Woodsongs: 60 Years of Bluegrass with Bobby Osborne
KET KY Wednesday, June 11 at 11/10 pm; KET Friday, June 13 at midnight/11 pm

Sounds of Our Heritage
KET2 Wednesday, June 11 at 10:30/9:30 pm

Young Musicians’ Celebration of Traditional Music
KET KY Thursday, June 12 at 10/9 pm

Most of the programs above air at additional times on KET KY. Check KET.org for complete schedule information.

 

 


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