25 February 2009

Guilty Pleasure - Lie To Me (2009)

I've just watched the first four episodes of the new series Lie To Me, and I must say - this is the best out of the worst shows on TV.
The reason I actually decided to watch the show was Tim Roth, actor that I really like ever since Reservoir Dogs, and he is truly upgrades the character by his unique presence. The premise of the show is very simple - Roth is Dr. Cal Lightman (Light-man, get it?), the head of some government firm that specializes on lie detectors, and not the machine ones, but human lie detectors. And it is not some voodoo mambo jumbo, everything is scientific, therefore he is a Doctor, and to get his academic status he spent 20 years all over the world studying the primitive cultures and isolated tribes. It is all based on facial expressions, body language, voice analysis and in the end on just usual common sense, and no machine can do that.

Like in CSI and its spin offs, Low and Order, or other similar new show The Mentalist, here as well the team investigates murders, political corruptions and any other misdemeanor, considered as criminal in the US of A.
And while others collect evidence, analyzing fingerprints, go to courts and basically waiting for the lab results, Dr. Lightman and his team just talk to people, well, mostly watching them. And they are really good, I mean no one has any chance to fool them. All it takes is less than one minute of conversation and the crime is solved. The suspect doesn't even need to talk, his face and body tell everything, nothing can escape. You don't believe me? Just watch the show and you'll see for yourself.

Beside amazing ability to solve any crime or even two crimes in just an hour (well, 40 minutes to be exact), everyone in the team has their own personal life and problems that he needs to deal with. And that is the whole show - very simple, very shallow, very fast, everyone seems to be always fresh, not tired and look at their best, the sense of time passing during the show is very smooth and things that should take at least a few days with many problems on the way, happen almost seamlessly and without any effort, like waving a magic wand. The types of crimes are nothing new and already used to dust in numerous shows before, and it's all so superficial, I mean, no complexity whatsoever. The plot is maybe twisted, and the way to solution goes through some surprises, this is why the show is interesting to watch, but eventually when we get to the solution it is all so very dumb and sometimes doesn't even make any sense. They even have that emotional montage in the end of the episode with touchy music, when it's time to show the conclusion, sort of "what did we learn on the show today" moment.

So why is this show any good? Dr. Lightman's ability to detect lies is absolutely stunning. The director of the series shows it in very skillful way, making the viewer see everything he needs to see to follow the story and to be involved. The observations and detections of lies are very cool, it truly creates the sense of almost supernatural power. Doctor's team is also good at this, and includes some very eccentric characters that know their job and do it well. So watching all of them is very nice, like watching someone doing your job while you are lying on the couch.

The other thing, which I found simply brilliant, is the constant comparison to the reality. Very often, when the lie is detected by the gesture and explained in the dialog, the same gesture is shown on some real life footage. For example, after seeing someone raising their finger while talking, and Dr. Lightman indicates this gesture as a lie, the real footage of Bill Clinton's "I did not have sexual relationship with that woman" famous speech is shown, and he does exactly the same gesture. This happens very often with different real life famous people, and just to show how new this show is, they even showed Barak Obama's speech during the election campaign, when he talks about John McCain and accidentally (?) shows a middle finger. This is of course connected to what we see in the show. The effect of such technique is very fresh and very convincing.

There is a good sense of humor in the show, the dialogs are witty, the content is not childish and involves many serious issues, the general attitude of the show is cool. Tim Roth, as I mentioned, is doing hell of a job, much better than his parallel colleagues in other shows. He is very self confident, very dependable, very tough, but at the same time he is likable and sensitive. He is that guy, that if he enters most dangerous, most fatal situation, goes to the most desperate person, looks him in the eyes and says "everything is going to be alright", everyone will believe him immediately. If anything, Dr. Lightman is very much like Dr. House.

The show will hold up for some time, it is interesting to watch and to follow, but unless they'll start to develop the characters beyond their current cliche nutshell, it will be hard to watch more than 10 episodes of it.

Lie To Me is clearly not the A class show, like Sopranos, The Wire, Dexter and etc., and not even B class like Lost, Dollhouse or Fringe. But among the C-graded TV shows it's one of the best and worth checking out when you have nothing else to do and you want to waste your time with some quick and painless entertainment.

Watch the episodes for free on the official site of FOX.



  1. Admin:
    I switched back from Intense Debate commenting system to the Blogger's default system. The comments were deleted, so in order to keep them I'll post them again.

    * SaltireFlower posted this comment on February 25th:

    The show looked really interesting when they had all the commercials for it a few months ago. But Fox has such a bad habit of cancelling shows I start to fall in love with so I got wary of watching it. I might check it out for Tim Roth (he was excellent in Quentin Tarantino's films.)

  2. And I replied later:

    The show is currently moving to different hour - Wednesday at 8:00 pm, right before American Idol. This is the best spot any show can get - no direct competition from anyone and right before the big monster.
    The Fox seems to really like the show and treat it with love, if only for one reason - every network wants their own CSI, which has proven to be a solid hit with huge ratings and a constant place in top 10 for many years now. ABC is also talking to the writers of CSI to get similar show.

    My point is that this show is highly unlikely to be canceled. The production is cheap and the viewers are watching. You should check it, this is not very memorable show anyway, it's not Buffy. In case it will be canceled you will forget all about it in just one day, guarantee.