January 9th, 2012
10:50 AM ET
Showtime has been promoting "House of Lies" for what seems like the better part of a year, so there was a lot of anticipation for Sunday night's series premiere (which – as Showtime and Starz tend to do with new series – was also available online and free to many cable subscribers).
But the show, about a team of management consultants led by Marty (Oscar-nominated actor and executive producer Don Cheadle), crammed a lot of plot into the first episode. So much so that there really wasn't any time left for two of Marty's employees, played by Ben Schwartz ("Parks and Recreation") and Josh Lawson ("The Wedding Party"), to shine.
Much of the focus was on Marty himself. It's not entirely clear from the promos, but after watching the show, Cheadle is perfectly cast as the slick Marty Kaan. (Marty also appears to be the first sitcom character since "Saved by the Bell" to have Zack Morris' "time out" power.)
A lot of the show explained some of the terminology and tricks of the trade for management consultants. Let's just say that this particular occupation doesn't come off smelling like roses.
Marty also has a complicated relationship with his ex-wife, who's also a rival management consultant. The very first shot of the series had him lying in bed with her, something he immediately regrets.
Marty also has a flirtatious relationship with his star employee, Jeannie (Kristen Bell, in her first regular TV role since "Veronica Mars"). We only got the tiniest hint that there may be sparks between them in future episodes.
Two of my favorite supporting characters, though, are Marty's father and son, Jeremiah and Roscoe. Jeremiah supports the cross-dressing Roscoe, who had to settle for Rizzo, after auditioning for Sandy in the school production of "Grease."
In the first episode, Marty and his team have to consult for a bank, even after a disastrous dinner for Marty where the wife of one of the bank's hotshots laid out their dirty laundry for all to hear, and Marty ended up head-butting the hotshot.
Marty, who eschews the term "out of the box," does indeed think out of the box to come up with a winning plan for the bank (and it's just pure coincidence that this scene sounds like it was inspired by Occupy Wall Street).
If every episode is about the team having to beat the odds to win over another company, this formula might get old quick. On the other hand, there are enough elements here to make an interesting, funny show. More than anything else, though, Cheadle's performance is the reason to tune in.
Did you watch the premiere as well? Was Cheadle enough to interest you for next week's episode? Post your thoughts on iReport or comment below.
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