How does FOX’s new crime drama “Lie to Me” fair in our review?
Lie To Me
FOX Network Wednesdays 9:00 est.
The compelling new drama from the producers of 24, stars Tim Roth (“The Incredible Hulk,” “Reservoir Dogs”) as DR. CAL LIGHTMAN, the world’s leading deception expert who studies facial expressions and involuntary body language to discover not only if someone is lying, but why. When someone shrugs one shoulder, rotates a hand or raises the lower lip, Lightman knows he’s lying.
Based on the real-life scientific discoveries of Paul Ekman, the series follows Lightman and his team of deception experts as they assist law enforcement and government agencies to expose the truth behind the lies.
From writer Samuel Baum (“The Evidence”) and the executive producers of 24 and “Arrested Development”.
Episode 1 Review
Lie To Me is yet another in a rash of new crime dramas featuring a quirky male protagonist paired with a more grounded female partner (The Mentalist, Eleventh Hour). The series opener begins with a case brought to the Lightman Agency concerning a teenage boy accused of murdering one of his teachers. The States Attorney wants to try the teen as an adult, but the mayor calls in Lightman and crew to determine if the boy is guilty before he’ll sign off. Lightman and his partner quickly discover that the boy is lying about something, but he’s telling the truth when he denies committing murder. Their investigation continues and of course the team exposes the true killer in the end. There is a subplot involving a politician embroiled in a sex scandal.
Unlike most crime dramas, the stories are not focused on “Who Done It” so much as why the accused is lying. I found the crime drama aspect of Lie To Me, predictable and simplistic. I made an accurate guess as to why the kid was lying as soon as his fundamentalist Christian parents were introduced about ten minutes into the show, so the big reveal that the reason he was running from the crime scene was because he’d been sexually attracted to the teacher and was spying on her and he was lying when he said he was just out jogging was disappointing. The same can be said for the politician whose scandalous secret was that he’d discovered that the daughter he’d given up for adoption years ago was working as a call girl and he had been paying for the privilege of her time and giving her money to try and persuade her to leave that life.
I do, however, see potential in the interactions between the four main characters, each of whom is an expert in the field of detecting lies. Dr. Lightman threw out a statistic that the average person lies three times during the course of a ten minute conversation. When one relates these circumstances to one’s own work environment, it is at first blush difficult to realize all the pitfalls of working closely with colleagues who know when you lie. One such situation was revealed when Dr. Gillian Foster’s (Kelli Williams – The Practice) boyfriend arrived to take her to dinner and made an excuse for being late. As soon as they left, Dr. Lightman and A Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) discussed that he was lying and whether or not they should tell Dr. Foster. I am sure this theme will be carried through to subsequent episodes, but what makes it compelling is he could have lied for many innocent reasons as people often do. He could have stopped to get a gift for her. He could have simply lost track of the time and not wanted to admit it. Or he could have been having an afternoon tryst with another woman. The knowledge that someone is lying raises all sorts of questions whether or not we want or need to know the truth.
All the key characters possess unique charm. Lightman has studied lying from an almost anthropological perspective, and his focus on the deceptive nature of humans has made him very cynical. Lying is his obsession and he sees liars everywhere. In sharp contrast, Gillian Foster is a romantic who eats chocolate pudding and drinks orange slushes because they make her happy, and she approaches her job from a more emotional and humanistic vantage point. Ms. Torres is what they call “A Natural” who possesses an instinctive ability to detect when someone is lying. My personal favorite is Will Locker (Brendan Hines – The Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), who is a researcher totally lacking the art of guile. He virtually has no brake between his brain and his tongue so anything that pops into his head simply comes rolling unimpeded out of his mouth. The viewer’s first clue to Will’s oddity is immediately revealed upon his introduction when his boss asks him if he just tumbled out of bed and he essentially responds “Yes. I went out and got drunk and laid last night then hit the snooze on my alarm until it was time to walk out the door while I considered not coming into work at all this morning,” and his boss accepts the explanation without batting an eyelash. Then when Will meets the newly hired Torres, his first words are “I want to sleep with you.”
Lie To Me is in a very crowded time slot which pits it toe-to-toe against a far better crime drama (Criminal Minds) and the blockbuster LOST, both of which are on my DVR series recording, and since my DVR only records two programs at the same time and I’m not giving these up, I’ll catch up on Lie To Me online . . . if I remember. But if FOX wants this show to succeed they will need to move it from it’s current time slot (perhaps Thursdays following American Idol instead of HELL’S KITCHEN – a reality show about chef’s competing for something), reposition their marketing, stop promoting it as a crime drama where it disappoints, and promote the character aspect more which is where the true potential lies (no pun intended), similar to the way they promote HOUSE.
Overall rating: B-