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'House of Cards' fifth season debuts, potential for a sixth unknown

The fifth season of "House of Cards," the Netflix political drama largely shot in Harford County, has received solid reviews around its May 30 premiere, but the jury is still out on whether the award-winning series largely produced in Harford County will be renewed for a sixth season.

"We keep our fingers crossed," Catherine Batavick, deputy director of the Maryland Film Office, said Monday. "We hope it continues."

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Batavick said her office has not yet heard from the show's Joppa-based production company, Knight Takes Kings Productions LLC, about whether the series has been renewed for a sixth season.

The 13-episode fifth season has been available for viewers to stream digitally for the past two weeks. The series stars Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright as Washington, D.C., power couple Frank and Claire Underwood.

Netflix officials could not be reached for comment regarding another season, and a staffer at the production company referred questions to Netflix.

"As soon as the production company knows they've gotten a commitment for an additional season they reach out to our office," Batavick said.

The fifth season has a 74 percent rating, based on a combination of critics' reviews, on Rotten Tomatoes. The fifth season has a 72 percent audience score, based on the views of audience members.

The fourth season had an 87 percent rating among critics and a 93 percent audience rating, according to the Rotten Tomatoes website.

Most of the series' interior scenes – including inside the White House and aboard Air Force One – are shot on sound stages in Joppa. Exterior scenes in all five seasons have been shot throughout Harford County, as well as other locations in the Baltimore region and Washington, D.C.

Casting calls for extras, which have been held annually at the Bel Air Armory, typically draw hundreds of people hoping for a few minutes of fame.

Exterior scenes for the current season were shot last June at the former Crown service station at Route 22 and Route 136 in Churchville. A nighttime street scene involving lead cast member Michael Kelly, who plays Underwood Chief of Staff Doug Stamper, was shot on South Main Street in Bel Air in late September.

In Season 5, Frank Underwood, who has risen from Congress to become the president of the United States, is fighting to keep his presidency by any means necessary as he attempts to win election to a full term as president.

David Zurawik, The Baltimore Sun's television critic, made comparisons between Underwood and real-life President Donald Trump as he binge-watched the season ahead of the release date.

Zurawik suggested in his review that the "inescapable connection to the man in the real White House is both a good and potentially bad thing for the series."

Judy Berman, of The New York Times, noted in her June 5 review that the fifth season of "House of Cards" was "perhaps its darkest yet."

"A show that was once shocking in its depiction of a federal government that wasn't just corrupt, but was bloodthirsty, has to keep upping the body count to maintain our attention because its bleak view of American politics no longer feels fresh," Berman wrote.

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She praised Spacey's and Wright's performances, though, and noted "what makes the show worth watching now is the constantly evolving relationship between Frank and Claire."

"We certainly love having ['House of Cards'] here and really are thankful for the economic impact they have in the state financially, and through pictures of Harford County and Maryland going out across the world," Batavick, of the Maryland Film Office, said.

She noted the Maryland-based production of the series has an annual impact on about 400 small businesses in Harford County alone, from decorating firms to carpeting companies, lumber yards, restaurants and hotels.

The series has earned Golden Globe and Emmy awards since its first season premiered in 2013.

"It's very well-respected, critically acclaimed, so certainly for our production personnel it's great that they have this well-respected piece to work on," Batavick said.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.
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