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A new Showtime sitcom about management consultants, “House of Lies” comes to us from Matthew Carnahan, who earlier created the short-lived Courtney Cox hourlong “Dirt.”
It stars Don Cheadle (“Iron Man 2”), Kristen Bell (“Forgetting Sarah Marshall”), Ben Schwartz (Jean Ralphio on “Parks and Recreation”), Dawn Oliveri (Lydia the tattooed lady on “Heroes”), Griffin Dunne (“Damages”), Greg Germann (“Ally McBeal”), Richard Schiff (“The West Wing”) and Glynn Turman (“The Wire”).
A lot of swell actors in a poor show, I say. Its characters are unconvincing, often behaving in ways inconsistent with any reality I find familiar. This would be forgivable were the show as funny as, say, “Veronica Mars” or “Picket Fences” or prime “Ally McBeal,” but I laughed at the “House of Lies” pilot not once. There is, however, loads of pay-cable sex and nudity (for Cheadle, not Bell), which could come in handy in the event YouPorn ceases to exist.
... To make those engaged in such cynical transactions appealing, or merely interesting, a show's writing would have to be very, very smart and its characters would have to be extraordinarily charismatic indeed. Despite an insanely talented cast, "House of Lies" fails on those counts. ...
... while it's more entertaining than "Dirt" - thanks primarily to the chemistry of a cast headed by Don Cheadle and Kristen Bell - it suffers from the same wobbly sense of tone and direction. ...
... This Good Marty/Bad Marty dynamic may prove more fruitful for the show in the long run than the well-worn punching bag that is corporate America. ...
... Well-crafted and a little — sometimes more than a little — unpleasant ...
... slimy and almost pointlessly sordid …
... not a revolutionary show, but it is a fun study of men behaving badly. …
... so pervasively cynical - and, by the way, brilliantly funny - it has the potential of making any viewer feel his or her life isn't so bad after all. …
... I didn’t laugh much. I did, however, check my watch, still secure on my wrist, to determine when the show would be ending... .
… [Cheadle] might overplay the smarmier side of Kaan … but he also parcels out precise emotional moments as well …
... The show’s crucial weakness is its dead language: The lines have no comic lilt; no exchange between any two characters gives off sparks. When you have an actor with a tongue as adroit as Cheadle, this seems nearly cruel. ...
... There is much to admire here, from the snap in the dialogue to the show's willingness to tackle issues of race in the workplace — but there might be even more if creator Matthew Carnahan (Dirt) could learn when to stop pushing. He takes Marty too far, relying on Cheadle's skill and presence to keep us attached to the character despite Marty's behavior and the show's mannered approach. The trick works for now, but it's a bad strategy for the long run. …
... aggressively raunchy and audaciously funny …
... Although [“Lies”] isn't as smart as it might have been -- falling well short of the movie "Up in the Air," to which it bears a thematic resemblance -- the program is moderately entertaining …
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