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CNBC probes financial crisis in "House of Cards"

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - The “Friday the 13th” franchise has nothing on “House of Cards,” a chilling CNBC documentary detailing the Wall Street-fueled events that made the current global economic collapse an unavoidable calamity.

At once infuriating and wise, “House of Cards” uses a balanced, clear-eyed approach to chronicle a tale of greed and deception unprecedented in American history. Thursday evening’s two-hour broadcast deftly unfurls the chronology as a ticking time bomb replete with bait-and-switch villains and stoked by pure blind denial.

CNBC correspondent David Faber has gathered an impressive collection of those who participated in and provoked the financial nosedive, several of whom clearly are purging their own demons in agreeing to go on camera. It makes for some unusually raw television that’s more bracing than any 10 so-called reality shows.

As Faber spells it out, the crisis seems in hindsight to have been glaringly preordained, casting the subprime mortgage lenders as the snake-oil salesmen of the 21st century. They agreed to loans for those with credit ratings below 500 points, asking for no documents and fraudulently filing papers that listed incomes three and four times higher than reality.

Faber pins down former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan, who has been accused of setting the table for the collapse with his persistent reductions in the prime rate. His apology is leavened here by his assertion that this was a once-in-a-century situation no one could see coming -- and that not even he understood some of the shenanigans being carried out in the financial markets.