Captained by David Fincher, and anchored by Kevin Spacey as morally ambiguous politician Frank Underwood, the maiden voyage of Netflix's streaming-only political thriller House of Cards has safely sailed into port as perhaps the most dynamic new series we've seen in the past year. Traditional television networks, terrified that they may be aboard the Titanic en route for an iceberg, will attempt to steer their ship to safety the only way they know how: by producing knockoffs. Consider how Mad Men spawned The Playboy Club and Pan Am -- two terrible facsimiles that walked the plank in a matter of months. Here are the top 10 ripoffs we'd most like to see, and the networks that could helm them:
Kingdom of Biscuits -- PBS
Synopsis: Alan Rickman plays Templeton Overtree, Baron of Waxingham in this Downton Abbey/House of Cards-style mashup set in early 20th century London. On the fast track to becoming Leader of the House of Lords, Baron Overtree's political ambitions are placed in jeopardy when nemesis Lord Wesley Bimplebridge (Colin Firth) impugns his honor on the house floor by claiming the Overtree Estate reeks "like a wheel of fetid Stilton" due to the wafting stench of nearby swamplands. Viewers will tune in to see if Overtree's chances to be Leader will crumble like a soggy biscuit dipped in a cup of Earl Grey.
Sweeps week: Rowan Atkinson guest stars as a quirky swamp drainer hired by Overtree to remove the stench hovering over Waxingham, but things go awry when Atkinson accidentally drains the putrid water into a nearby orphanage.
Commanders in Chief -- VH1
Synopsis: The actors who portrayed your favorite fictional presidents in TV and film compete in the ultimate reality show competition to determine once and for all who is the best fake leader of the free world.
After 10 weeks of geopolitical, domestic and historical legacy-based challenges, viewers will vote by episode for which accomplished presidential thespian will be impeached from the Oval Office.
Sweeps week: Geena Davis (Commander in Chief) and Martin Sheen (The West Wing, Kennedy) form an alliance to divide and eliminate Tony Goldwyn (Scandal) and Michael Douglas (The American President) from the Team U.N. challenge.
Full House of Cards -- ABC Family
Synopsis: The cast of your favorite late-80s, early-90s sitcom is back and moving to New York City, as Danny Tanner (Bob Saget) shmoozes his way into becoming the next co-host of Good Morning America after George Stephanopoulos gets canned for public indecency (caught urinating in the Bethesda Fountain on New Years Eve). Kimmy Gibbler, now an enterprising news reporter, returns as Danny's surprise nemesis with her quick wit and questionable fashion decisions.
Sweeps week: Danny employs Uncle Joey's incredible power of voice manipulation to prank call Al Roker of ratings rival The Today Show. Impersonating Roker's bariatric surgeon, Joey (Dave Coulier) gets Al to admit he wears an adult diaper to bed. Danny digitally records the audio and runs it on GMA's Play of the Day the next morning, embarrassing their NBC opponent.
House of Bunnies -- E!
Synopsis: Hugh Hefner may have tied the knot, but that won't stop 12 potential Playmates from scheming their way to the heart of the virile octogenarian. Each week gets more challenging as contestants are eliminated and Hef's bedtime gets earlier.
It may be a reboot of an old staple for the network (E!'s reality show relevancy is like dog years: take the time elapsed since the last episode and multiply by seven), but who really watches the Kardashians anymore?
Sweeps week: Holly Madison returns to spike Crystal Harris' queso with laxative while she schemes to have alone time with Hef on movie night.
The FU Diaries -- The CW
Synopsis: Keeping with the tradition of the network's stable of teen fare like The Vampire Diaries and this year's Sex and the City prequel, The Carrie Diaries, the CW looks at Frank Underwood's formative years in Gaffney, SC.
As a motivated, but ultimately maligned, debate team captain, young Francis explores his early Machiavellian roots to manipulate the throngs of popular students, high school jocks and future Widespread Panic disciples on his way to winning the senior class presidency.
Sweeps week: After being spurned by the head cheerleader a week before the homecoming dance, Frank harnesses the powers of manipulation over his first plate of barbecue short ribs.
Diva in Chief -- Lifetime
Synopsis: Felicity Ursula is a damn good congresswoman. But her male superiors often play politics and leapfrog Felicity's chances at higher office, despite being less talented.
Undeterred, the cunning career politician and mother of six uses her psychic abilities -- acquired from a freak lightning strike during a working mother's congressional caucus press conference -- to outwit her chauvinist counterparts and break the glass ceiling of Washington, D.C.
Sweeps week: Tanisha Thomas of the Oxygen Network's Bad Girls Club: Season 2 guest stars as Senator Florence Smith, who is bent on passing a bill for budget cuts in nursing home libraries. Felicity, determined to upend Smith's political agenda, filibusters the bill by reading every word of all three Lord of the Rings screenplays, including deleted scenes. The filibuster is put in jeopardy, however, when Felicity must choose between her duty as a lawmaker and attending her daughter Emily's science fair.
Doogie Howser's House of Cards -- Fox
Synopsis: Neil Patrick Harris hosts a cutthroat reality competition between prodigal teenagers for a chance to become the youngest resident physician at the Mayo Clinic. Challenges include a literal backstabbing, when contestants must conduct a lumbar puncture while a group of cheerleaders stand nearby and insult their lame haircuts, as well as attempting to execute a prostate exam without giggling.
Sweeps week: Contestants are asked to perform a colonoscopy on surprise guest star Max Casella.
Casa de Cartas -- Telemundo
Synopsis: Mexican telenovella star Fernando Colunga (Soy tu dueña) plays Rico Suarez, a Republican house representative from Texas running for Senate. The campaign gets complicated, however, when the opposition backs an unexpected candidate -- his long lost son, who was presumed dead 10 years prior after a freak sailing accident off the coast of San Juan. What will triumph: political ambition or paternal love?
Sweeps week: Rico's wife falls into a coma after finding out she's pregnant with the baby of Rico's Chief of Staff (guest star Demián Bichir).
Ace in the House -- USA
Synopsis: Dirk Kirkpatrick (Dax Shepard) was never good at much, but he is a mathematical genius at poker.
Busted in Vegas, Dirk is mistaken for his twin brother, Congressman Bruce Kirkpatrick, who is secretly recovering in sex-addicts anonymous rehab. To save his brother's political career, Dirk must wing it in the halls of Congress, and in the meantime, play the political odds to take the House.
Sweeps Week: Dirk accidentally causes a government shutdown by hosting a Congressional Poker Night that turns into a week-long bender.
Bicycle Presents: House of Playing Cards -- Gameshow Network
Synopsis: Hosted by Bill Pullman (Independence Day) after the inevitable cancellation of his NBC sitcom 1600 Penn. In this hour-long gameshow from the creators of The Pickup Sticks Party Hour, contestants literally attempt to build various structures out of decks of Bicycle playing cards. In advanced rounds, contestants are faced with obstacles like a gentle breeze.
Sweeps week: Cancelled before sweeps.
For more fun insight on House of Cards, check out Tyler's podcast--This House of Cards Podcast -- on iTunes.
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