Tag Archives: House of Lies

Spring 2012 Review: House of Lies

1 May

The consulting team on their way to clients

House of Lies is about a group of consultants.  Props here to the idea of using consultants as the basis for a show; there has never been any show focusing primarily on consultants that I can think of; the closest pop culture has is Dogbert from Dilbert comics.  These consultants play into whatever existing management consultant stereotypes there are; that they’re sleazy, that they don’t really contribute anything to either their clients or to society; that they have a whole bunch of jargon that doesn’t really mean anything.  The group is actually a team, led by Don Cheadle’s Marty Kaan, and including Kristen Bell’s Jeannie van der Hooven, Parks and Recreation’s Jean-Ralphio’s Ben Schwartz as Clyde Oberholt, and Josh Lawson’s Doug Guggenheim.  Kaan is the leader and the amount of confidence and trust the team has in him is not always clear.

They’re supposed to be debaucherous and political incorrect.  They’re extremely unethical, but as we learn, it’s not just them – that’s how their chief competitors work as well, with a team led by Marty’s ex, Monica Talbot.  Marty attempts to woo, and then manages to piss off a member of the company he’s consulting on at a disastrous dinner where the prostitute Marty brought as a date ends up hooking up with his client’s wife in the bathroom (played by second season of True Blood’s Anna Camp).   However, he and his team make up for it by winning over the higher CEO with a bunch of brilliant ways to screw consumers.

There’s a B story in the first episode about Marty’s home life, particularly about his dad, who watches over Marty’s son while Marty’s traveling (played by Glynn Turman – best known as Mayor Clarence Royce in The Wire), and his son, Roscoe, who appears to be pre-gay (see: Curb Your Enthusiasm), Roscoe wants to try out for the female lead in the school play.  Marty is initially hesitant but eventually relents and lets his son be himself.

House of Lies has a classic case of beginner’s sitcom sickness.  It doesn’t really know what it wants to be exactly.  It’s trying different things, experimenting in an actual episode to see what clicks and what doesn’t, and it ends up all over the map.  I’m not sure there’s one style here that will work perfectly, but it appears scattered and non-cohesive.  That said, it’s not incredibly uncommon in a sitcom pilot to be still figuring out what works, but House of Lies is probably more behind the ball than most.  I don’t think it’s a hopeless case – it’s not a particularly memorable show, but there are snatches of laughs and minor smiles to be had intermittently and the cast is a talented one.

Don Cheadle is a sitcom newbie, who has mostly appeared in dramatic roles, and in mildly comedic roles in the Ocean’s film and he clearly is also having issues figuring out how exactly to act the part.

Will I watch it again?  Maybe – it was such a jumble that it is hard to know whether it could find itself, and if it could, what it would find, but it has Kristen Bell and Jean-Ralfio, so that’s two points in its favor.  This is a show that, for better or worse, would be cancelled by now on a network, but will get a second season on Showtime.

Advertisements

Spring 2012 Preview and Predictions: Cable (besides HBO)

6 Jan

(In order to meld the spirit of futile sports predictions with the high stakes world of the who-will-be-cancelled-first fall (now spring!) television season, I’ve set up a very simple system of predictions for how long new shows will last.  Each day, I’ll (I’m aware I switched between we and I) lay out a network’s new shows scheduled to debut in the fall (reality shows not included – I’m already going to fail miserably on scripted shows, I don’t need to tackle a whole other animal) with my prediction of which of three categories it will fall into.

These categories are:

1.  Renewal – show gets renewed

2.  13+ – the show gets thirteen or more episodes, but not renewed

3.  12- – the show is cancelled before 13

Spring note:  It’s a lot harder to analyze midseason shows as there’s no collective marketing campaigns going on at one time, as many of the shows start dates are spread (or are even unannounced for some)  Still, we’ll take partially educated guesses.  Also, they’re a lot less likely to get partial pick ups, so maybe that trade off will make it easier)

All other cable networks here.  USA and TNT are holding their new shows until the summer, so we’ve got entrants from BBC America, FX, Showtime, Starz and MTV.

BBC America

The Fades

The Fades has already aired in Britain but will be making its American debut this spring.  From a writer of Skins, The Fades is a supernatural show which revolves around the central concept that spirits of dead people who couldn’t get into heaven are all around us, known here as the titular Fades.  The main character Paul is a teenager who has apocalyptic dreams and the ability to see these Fades, an ability shared only by a select few, known as Angelics.  The Fades are bitter, and have slowly made progress in their attempt to have an impact in the real world, leading to a possible battle with the Angelics which Paul will be in the middle of.

Verdict:  Renewal – I shouldn’t really even have this category for imported shows – British shows generally air short runs anyway per season, six in this case, and it’s already aired months ago.  That said, there’s no official word, but as it’s been popular and well-reviewed across the pond this is just the smart money.

FX

Unsupervised – 1/19

Unsupervised is an animated series co-created by David Hornsby, best known as recurring character Rickety Cricket on FX hit It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  He also created and starred in the quickly cancelled How To Be A Gentlemen last fall on CBS.  Hornsby and Justin Long voice the main two characters, 15-year old best friends.  Kristen Bell, Romany Malco, Fred Armison, and Kaitlin Olson also have roles.

Verdict:  12- David Hornsby did not impress me with How To Be A Gentlemen, though FX has had a lot more success with quality comedies than CBS.  FX has a pretty good record overall, and there’s a clearly illustrious voice cast.  I’m really not sure why I’m skeptical, and hopefully it will be good, but it looks bad to me from the poster and I’m semi-arbitrarily voting against.

Showtime

House of Lies – 1/8

House of Lies is a comedy about the hilarious world of management consulting, starring Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell, and Ben Schwartz, best known as Parks and Recreation’s Jean-Ralphio.  Honestly, the first time I heard about this show, about management consultants working for clients around the world and doing whatever needs to be done to get the project finished and make money, I thought for sure it was a high intensity drama, especially since it was starring Don Cheadle, who is not exactly known for his comedic roles.  The fact that it’s a comedy floored me initially.

Verdict:  Renewal – don’t really know what to think, but Showtime, like HBO, which it desperately wants to be, likes to give shows second seasons if they do anything at all.

Starz

Spartacus: Vengeance – 1/27

This is kind of misleading.  I have no idea how to consider Starz’ continuing line up of Spartacus shows.  My normal inclination would just be to consider them different seasons of the same show, but Starz doesn’t exactly consider them that, and tragically the actor who played Spartacus died, so maybe that’s a factor.  Because Starz seems to, I’m going to treat it as a new show, though it’s clearly not.  A new actor takes on the Spartacus role and it’s filled with all the sex and violence that the Spartacus name has come to represent.

Verdict:  12- More cheating – so far each Spartacus has been treated as its own series, so it seems likely that if there’s another Spartacus, which there well may be, it will probably have a new name and thus be considered a new series.  I don’t really understand it, either.

MTV

I Just Want My Pants Back – 2/2

It’s about a twenty-something trying to figure out life, love, sex and work.  Could it possibly sound more generic?  The minor gimmick which gives the show its title is that the main character’s pants are stolen after a one-night stand and the character looks all over the city to find the pants and the girl who took them.  I’m guessing it won’t be good based on the fact that I don’t give a ton of credence to MTV original programming (I’m already too old to be the target audience, really) and most shows that sound like this are probably bad (even though the set up is so generic it could be any level of quality).

Verdict:  12- I have no idea what it takes for MTV to continue original series.  I must admit I’m mostly unfamiliar with MTV original series and don’t really have a beat on who watches them or what it would take to continue them.  This is nothing more than a guess in the dark.