don cheadle*(Via LA Times) – “House of Lies,” which premieres tonight, Sunday (01-08-12) at 10pm E/P is a new series from Showtime about management consultants.

The job is described as impossible to describe, but the general idea is that they’re con artists who make troubled corporations dependent on their own company’s advice. As legend-in-his-field Marty Kaan (Don Cheadle) puts it, the goal is to “make them think they can’t live without us …. while we infect the host and bleed them dry.”

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Among other things, the show – based on a memoir by Marty Kihn, once head writer for VH1’s “Pop-Up Videos” – seems to me a product of the knowledge that “Californication” can’t last forever, and that it would be good for the network to have another male-targeted sex fantasy on hand when it goes. When characters aren’t having sex here, they are trying to have it, or talking about it, or using it as a metaphor for practically anything else that might be discussed.

Well-crafted and a little – sometimes more than a little – unpleasant, “House of Lies” also resembles Jason Reitman’s “Up in the Air” and “Thank You for Smoking,” colorful films whose antiheroic, well-dressed, good-looking lead characters also spend a lot of time on planes and explain their unsympathetic work to the audience as they go along. We’re possibly supposed to feel a little bit good about that work, which might have an incidentally positive real-world effect, but mostly we are to feel good about the winning. A lot of the humor involves one character humiliating another, sadly.

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