House of Lies picked up a bit in its second week, giving Marty's (Don Cheadle) team a bit more to do, and tempering its easy cynicism and half-convincing fast talk with some delicately broached sincere emotion.
Don't Hate the Players
This is a stellar cast. In addition to Cheadle, Glynn Turman (Marty's dad, Jeremiah), and Kristin Bell (Jeannie), this week added Galweather & Stearn bigwigs Richard Schiff (Skip Galweather) and Griffin Dunne (Mario "The Rainmaker" Pelicos). I'm a skeptic when it comes to Ben Schwartz, but he seems well-cast here as the slick but immature Clyde. Relative unknowns Josh Lawson (Doug) and young Donis Leonard, Jr. (Roscoe) have been very solid, and Dawn Olivieri has been very funny as Marty's impulsive, angry ex-wife.
Jumping Through Hoops
Mario sends Marty's pod to Phoenix to deal with pro basketball team owners going through an ugly divorce that might bankrupt the organization. Doug has an embarrassing, starstruck encounter with So You Think You Can Dance star Cat Deeley at the airport. Later, Clyde demonstrates how he would seduce Deeley. Jeannie goes out with an old business school beau, Derek (Brian Letscher). Jeannie thinks it's a date, but Derek is now a headhunter, and he surprises her with a job offer. She tells Marty about it, and he predictably takes action.
Hurt Me, Marty
I'm a bit confused about that smile on Jeannie's face on the plane home. Marty has confessed to sabotaging her job offer. He knows her better than I do, and so I guess he knows that deep down, she wanted him to make her stay. It's still emotionally unconvincing. The ending, with Roscoe distracting Marty by mentioning being called a "fudge-packer" by a bully at school, was stronger in its ambiguity. Marty's a jerk, but his genuine love and concern for his kid, presented unsentimentally, humanizes him.
I'd watch a strong cast like this in almost anything, but I like the way they're developing the group dynamics with Marty's team. The writing is a bit dense with all the (mostly meaningless) jargon, but overall, things seem to be moving forward nicely.
"Mr. Kaan, I wonder if in the future we might speak in less militaristic terms."
--Principal Gita (Mo Gaffney) ends a confrontational discussion with Marty.
"I can crunk, if you like crunking."
--Doug tries to impress Cat Deeley.
"I forget. Is it slander if it's 100% true? I mean, if I accuse him of serial whore-banging, and fathering a child with our housekeeper, is that slander?"
--Bridget (Deprise Brescia) complains about her philandering husband.
"Are you kidding me, Jeannie? That guy is a f**king sociopath. Marty the Kaan man? The only thing he's ever promoted is his own legend."
--Derek doesn't think Jeannie will make partner working for Marty.
""What does that mean?" Were you not there, with your penis?"
--Marty can't believe Doug doesn't know why they're razzing him about his encounter with Cat Deeley.