The final season of “House of Cards” could be subtitled ”The Ghost Of You.” Kevin Spacey was fired from the series after sexual assault allegations surfaced, but the character he plays (Frank Underwood) is still very much part of the show — even though the actor playing him is nowhere to be seen in the six episodes. Instead, the show focuses on Claire Underwood, Frank’s wife, who became president toward the end of season five after Frank resigned in the wake of impending impeachment hearings.
Flash-forward to season six and Frank is dead, Claire is still president, but she is about as reviled as Frank was when he held the office. She also has to confront many of the debts Frank was set to pay as president — one of which is to the Shepard family who wants Claire to sign a bill that will benefit their Koch Brothers-like family business. Then there’s the death of Zoe Barnes in season two that lingers throughout the series as her editor tries to pin her murder squarely on Frank. Add to that Frank’s loyal foot soldier Doug Stamper plotting to kill Claire as she suspects that Frank was murdered. Oh, it’s all so improbable (or is it?), but that’s what “House of Cards” excels in. The scheming, the audacious acts, the ability of some characters (okay, really just the Underwoods) to see five or six moves ahead of their opponents in the political chess games they play, only accentuates the corrupting influence of power.
While ”The Final Season” shows stresses and strains of milking drama from increasingly boilerplate characters, Robin Wright is the glue that holds this mess together. She doesn’t always succeed in her abilities to command the screen in the face of weak scripts, but she’s commanding enough to see it through to its revealing end.
First, there was ”The Golden Girls” and now Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin are treading familiar waters as Golden Boys in ”The Kominsky Method.” Tragedy and comedy alternate in this series starring two seasoned actors who know how to liven up sometimes mediocre material. The plot centers on Sandy Kominsky (Douglas) and his agent, Howard Newlander (Arkin). Sandy is a revered acting teacher in L.A. who can’t find any acting work — despite the fact that Howard runs a pretty successful agency (Think William Morris Endeavor). The episodes deal with spousal death, enlarged prostates, medication, dating when older, and a whole host of other situations that are pretty standard stuff.
If it wasn’t for the acting talent of Douglas and Arkin, the series would probably tank. As it is, the two keep the chuckles (but not belly laughs) coming, and it’s Arkin who shows some range in the series. He has to play grief-stricken, sarcastic, confused, and sympathetic while Douglas kind of plays the straight man who is trying to stay relevant and attractive while the years catch up with him. Arkin has always been a master at delivering comedic lines, and in ”The Kominsky Method” he doesn’t disappoint:
Norman: So how’s your love life? You still seeing, uh, what’s her name? Triscuit?
Sandy: Tristan…and no.
Norman: Oh, that’s too bad. She was kinda cute.
Sandy: Well, we didn’t have much to talk about…she was half my age.
Norman: Listen, half your age is still an old woman.
There are a few more zingers in the series like this, but more often than not, the plots tend to cover very little new territory for what’s essentially a sitcom (without a laugh track) about old age. Still, if you’re in the mood for some predictable, but enjoyable, old man comedy, ”The Kominsky Method” will do in a pinch.