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Don Cheadle's new show has moments, but not quite enough of them to really connect....
Paramount / 347 Minutes / 2012 / Unrated / Street Date: December 18, 2012
House of Lies: The First Season does what it can. With a sturdy cast and high-profile production quality, the show's inaugural go-round has a finessed, sleek feel to it, and this bravura often allows us to forget how little is actually going on underneath the series' hood. TV as a medium knows there's a time and a place for mundane entertainment without any kind of dramatic gravity or import, but there should be more to a show like this one.
The series focuses on the exploits of Galweather & Stearn, a management consult agency that gets called in to put out fires large and small, often by giant corporations. Led by the glad-handing Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle), his team will tackle any issue and spin it so the low-lifes creating the problem in the first place will come out looking like gold. Sure, Kaan's personal life is in ruins, but as a delusional workaholic, that hardly matters: why deal with his family when he can go on high-profile international adventures?
Cheadle is the cornerstone of House of Lies, and he's excellent in it. He's able to bring to his performance a twitchy sense of unease that makes Kaan both endearing and slimy - his heart's in the right place (when he's not lying through his teeth). But even with such sharply-honed characters, House of Lies falls far short of being either darkly compelling or escapist fun. There are moments of significance and TV magic that bubble up now and again, but these instances aren't enough to buoy The First Season as a collective whole.