Summer is rapidly approaching, and with it comes decision time for networks and aspiring shows.
Showtime has ordered two new series after seeing their pilots: terrorism thriller Homeland and white collar drama House of Lies.
Homeland comes from 24 executive producer Howard Gordon, and operates in familiar territory. A CIA agent (Claire Danes) becomes suspicious of a POW (Damian Lewis) returning after nine years of detention in Iraq. The agent believes the soldier may be a brainwashed Al-Qaeda operative. The militaristic themes and topical stories should sit well with fans of 24, which wrapped up its final season last summer.
Also joining the cast of Homeland is Mandy Patinkin, of Criminal Minds, Dead Like Me, and The Princess Bride fame. He's playing the CIA boss of Danes' character. His wife will be played by Laura Frasier (A Knight's Tale) and David Harewood (Blood Diamond) rounds out the cast as another CIA agent.
House of Lies is based on a novel by Martin Kihn and is produced by Matthew Carnahan, writer for The Kingdom. It stars Iron Man II and Ocean's 11 vet Don Cheadle as a a ruthless, successful business consultant named Marty. He must contend with his own self-destructive habits and family drama to keep his consulting firm afloat.
The show also stars fan favorite Kristen Bell, of Veronica Mars and Forgetting Sarah Marshall. She plays a green but brilliant Ivy League grad working at the firm. Early news from the pilot paint the show as a darkly comedic look at driven, destructive professionals not dissimilar from Showtime's Californication, which director Stephen Hopkins has also worked on.
Homeland will be an hour-long drama, while House of Lies will use a half-hour format. Both shows have been given a 12-episode order for their first season, putting them in line with fellow Showtime projects like Dexter. Production on both series will begin this summer, so expect premieres in the fall of 2011 or early spring 2012.
Homeland and House of Lies are the first two projects to go from the pilot stage to a full series under new Showtime president David Nevins. With impressively recognizable casts and proven subject matter, expect both of these series to start strong when they debut.