I recently finished watching HoC. No, not the US/Netflix remake; the "original" BBC trilogy. Thanks +The Rachel Maddow Show
for the tip, I didn't even know about the existence of the BBC series which is also awesome (and also available on Netflix).
BUT, I have to object to some comments from Rachel. (No spoilers about either series; read in peace if you haven't watched them.) First off, I don't consider important to watch the BBC version before the US version; I've done the opposite and it didn't make me dislike the BBC version, neither did that ruin the experience as a big spoiler. And I have watched the US version very recently so I had the full story fresh in my memory, while Rachel more likely watched the BBC version many years before the US version.
The plot and characters are different enough. Even the few major events that happen in both series, usually differ in important details so they aren't significantly more
you have watched the other series. In both cases, some important events are predictable on their own, e.g. you can tell that certain character needs to be assassinated at some point without having watched or read another version first. Still you don't know the how, who, and when. And comparing the two series, many important pieces of the plot are different too, so there's no easy rule "X will happen in the US version because X happened in the BBC version" (or vice-versa, if you watch US first).
Second thing, I don't agree that the BBC version is better in a general way (Rachel doesn't say that, but she's clearly a total fan of the BBC version). Different shows, 25 years and a large pond apart. The british is a classic "best of BBC" production; there's a lot of subtle humor, monarchy, Frank's fourth-wall monologues are much more frequent and often much deeper and somber, Michael Dobbs's Shakespearian notes are obvious, etc. Put simply, if you love brit stuff, their HoC is a feast.
But the American remake has a long array of merits of its own. For one thing, it's a much superior production: and yes, more money, when well spent, can help getting a better product. Not just the obvious things like art direction or SFX. The American cast is remarkably and consistently strong. (Expensive artists aren't always the best, but the best are rarely cheap.) In the UK version, Ian Richardson's Francis Urqhardt is delicious, there are other great performances too, but the overall
quality of acting is not in the same level of the American version. (In particular in the first season; S2/S3 are better.) The BBC series is weaker in the script and character development too. (Besides Urqhart, not a single other character is memorable.) Maybe an unfair comparison because it's just 4 episodes per series, so the American writers and actors have a ton of extra time that they used well. But the story is often less interesting too: in particular, Francis Urqhardt's plotting agains his adversaries is a bit repetitive, while Francis Underwood is more inventive in his evil deeds. You can probably blame the books for the latter problem, I didn't read them but I suppose that's the source of most of BBC's plot. Finally, both series are focused in (and
titled after) their respective countries' political system, but the BBC series has a more superficial treatment of that even after adjusted for its shorter length. Yeah, neither series pretends to be a realistic documentary of their nation's legislative and executive branches, but the US HoC is richer and more satisfying, if only as satire or even as fiction.
But "Yeah, well, that's just, like, your opinion, man". The BBC HoC is amazing stuff; if you're another US HoC fan already suffering the pain of abstinence until the next season comes—highly recommended.