TV review: House of Lies

By Columbus Alive
From the January 5, 2012 edition

Showtime released the pilot of “House of Lies” online, as it customarily does with new series to entice audiences. Given how awful it is, I doubt too many will be subscribing to Showtime to watch the Don Cheadle-Kristen Bell comedy.

It’s a shame, because Cheadle and Bell are strong actors. But this tale of an expert management consulting team doesn’t get off to a good start.

The pilot is convoluted at times — with Cheadle doing Zack Morris-style freeze frames to explain the jargon and operations of his industry to the audience — but worse is the mostly hollow characters.

Cheadle’s self-loathing Marty Kaan is an unscrupulous wheeler-dealer with a crazy ex-wife (Dawn Olivieri) and a sexually confused son. Bell’s Jeannie is a driven workaholic with an empty personal life. There seems to be a will-they-won’t-they element between the two that feels forced.

“House of Lies” improves over the next few episodes, but not immensely. There’s too little humor and character development, but there is potential to improve the writing so that Cheadle and Bell’s talents are better utilized.