It was really interesting to hear that Don Cheadle was slated to star in a new Showtime comedy series. When you think of Don Cheadle, comedic actor isn’t the first thing to come to mind. Cheadle has made a strong name for himself in Hollywood as more of a dramatic actor, starring in acclaimed movies such as Hotel Rwanda, Crash, and the Ocean’s franchise. So there’s bound to be some interest in seeing Cheadle play Marty Kaan, a slick and smooth talking project management consultant when you would normally expect him to be a in high octane drama series, not unlike Showtime’s new drama Homeland.
House of Lies is based on the book House of Lies: How Management Consultants Steal Your Watch and Then Tell You the Time by Martin Kihn. Cheadle shows his excellent comedic chops that were very unexpected, and rarely seen. Rounding out the cast is Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars) as Jeannie, his smart and sexy ivy-league co-worker, Josh Lawson (Romantically Challenged) as Marty’s associate Doug, Ben Schwartz (Jean-Ralphio from Parks and Recreation!!!) as Clyde, a smooth talking member of Marty’s team, and Dawn Oliveri (True Blood) as Monica, and Marty’s ex-wife and biggest professional competitor.
House of Lies starts off in a true fast-paced, fun way as you would expect with any comedy on a cable network. In the first scene, its hard to tell what’s funnier – Marty trying to get his ex-wife out of his apartment after a night of crazy drunk sex, putting her clothes on himself to make her departure easier, or his son Roscoe bursting into the to find his divorced parents together. Hands down its the son coming into the room. Early on, we find that Marty’s son is experimenting with his sexuality at a very young age, frequently dressing in girls clothes. The performance by young actor Donis Leonard, Jr. is perfect in the series.
All four management consultants (Cheadle, Bell, Schwartz, and Lawson) have a great chemistry together as a cast. It had to be believable since the quartet work together very closely due to their fast paced jobs, creme de la creme work reputations, hardcore nights on the town partying , and excessive traveling together. All of this is due to their success at luring high profile clients that bring in the big bucks.
Cheadle and Bell have the best chemistry of the cast. Its apparent that Marty and Jeannie will have a will-they-or-wont-they kind of sexual relationship, which is what this show needs.
Oliveri plays the ex-wife card perfectly. Since she is Marty’s main professional rival – her management firm is #1 compared to Marty’s #2 firm, she’s the perfect antagonist for the series, it will be interesting to see her and Cheadle go head to head professionally, as well as when it comes down to their son, which she flat out blames Marty for the way that young Roscoe acts.
My only complaint about House of Lies in the quick sequences when everything around Marty freezes and he hops out to talk directly to the camera like Zach Morris from Saved by the Bell. Wasn’t a fan of when Zach Morris did it, and not a fan of it here.
House of Lies is no doubt the best new comedy that will premiere on broadcast or cable this spring. Fast, funny, smart, and unpredictable. All these things don’t make the show good, however. It’s how developed the lead character is. From Marty’s home life with his father and son, his work life with his young team of consultants, to his possible love life with Jeannie, House of Lies focuses on the entire aspect of a this powerful man’s life, in turn makes this a competely developed comedy.
Watch the full (edited) pilot of House of Lies here.
House of Lies premieres Sunday, January 8th at 10p.m. on Showtime.