Occupy T.V Screens; Showtime premiered their new dramedy, titled House of Lies on Sunday night. Show is based a management consulting firm, who are shown as a bunch of douche bags (minus Kristen Bell). This bunch caters to fat cats a.k.a MetroCapital Bank, which incidentally is also shown as a bunch of douche bags. The management consulting firm (I don't even remember its name), is looking to have the bank as its client. The bank requires the firm to project a good image of them in advent of all the Occupy movements in the country. Showtime/creator seems to be leveraging the Occupy movement and general discontent towards banks to get a pay day out of it. Below are 5 points that stood out in the pilot:
Don Cheadle: This guy is a very talented actor, with an Oscar nomination and a handful of great movies he's stared in. He performance in Hotel Rwanda was exceptional, as was his performance in the Oscar winner Crash. Now, I don't understand his motivation to be a part of this show, it could be a big pay day for him. His character is shown as one of those smooth talking slime balls, who get in bed with every moving object and are irresistible for the opposite sex; a poor man's Don Draper if you must. Though towards the end of the episode we get a hint that we'll get to see more of his humble human side later in the show.
Rest of the Cast: Two names stand out in what is an averagely mediocre line-up; Kristen Bell, of the Veronica Mars fame and Greg Germann, the Ally McBeal veteran. We don't see a lot of Bell in the pilot episode, as she remains in Don's shadow throughout. Both these characters will be involved in one of those old fashioned 'will they , will they not' romantic situations, which honestly make me want to vomit now. Greg, whose character is also incidentally name 'Greg', hasn't done a lot of note since the ending of Ally McBeal. I also get the impression that this character might be specially created to accommodate him. Nevertheless, he is a decent actor and can help keep this show afloat. The other two guys of the consulting firm are Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks & Rec, a reasonably funny character who can induce a few laughs) and Josh Lawson (apparently acted in a movie titled $quid, I don't even want to open its imdb page).
The Plot: I've written a bit about the general theme of the show in the synopsis above. It's about a management consulting firm, who I initially thought would skin money off of banks and big evil corporations and give it to the poor, robinhood-ish. However, turns out, the firm doesn't have much of a moral compass either. So the plot is that the firm makes big evil corporations believe that they require its services and in return the firm pisses away that money in debauchery of some sort. I know that this show is airing on Showtime, which tries to emulate HBO's success with uncensored content; but the pilot had more sex scenes than a vulgar episode of Californication (which is all about sex, as the name suggests). I found this sexual content extremely unnecessary and very unpleasant. To start the pilot episode with a naked couple and one of them being Don Cheadle, screams out desperation for me.
The Freeze Outs: the creators should have realized this show is (I'm assuming) not targeting a female teenage audience. I see no other reason that they used those annoyingly out-dated teen movie scene freezes, where Don explains some marketing jargon. Maybe, they thought that Kristen Bell would attract a similar teen audience like Veronica Mars. God knows, but I sincerely hope they chuck it out as soon as possible.
Soundtrack: Similarly, the background music, if you can really call it background, is so loud in a lot of scenes that the dialogues become barely comprehendible. To add to the agony of the viewers' ears, the choice of songs is so appalling, it just makes the hole combination all the more painful.
Positives: well there were hardly any positives in the pilot episodes. Showtime for some reason has become the home of Dramedys (30mins drama/comedy) of late. They have had run of the mill success with similar shows before. e.g. Nurse Jackie, The Big C & Weeds etc and audience might be tuning in to kill that 30 minutes time slot in their days. Don Cheadle, Kristen Bell and Greg Germann might be able to just shoulder this show for a while. Another positive was the involvement of Glynn Turman, alumnus of The Wire. I have so much respect for The Wire that I would watch any 3rd class garbage show (for a few episodes at least) for anyone who was remotely connected to The Wire. And lastly, the atmosphere in the country, i.e. hatred of big evil corporations, courtesy the before mentioned Occupy movements, might just be the reason audience tune in for this.
In conclusion, I see this show possibly getting just the 1 season. If they manage to fix some of the glaring flaws in the pilot episodes, the show might be able to salvage a couple of seasons. Similar to other Showtime dramadies, this will attract an average audience and would hardly be a block buster. Watch this show if you have a dinner plan with your friends and they are running 30mins late.
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