"LIE TO ME: SEASON ONE"
by Kevin Carr
|| MOVIE: *** (out of 5 stars)
DVD EXPERIENCE: ** (out of 5 stars)
Tim Roth as DR. CAL LIGHTMAN
Kelli Williams as DR. GILLIAN FOSTER
Brendan Hines as ELI LOKER
Monica Raymund as RIA TORRES
Created by: Samuel Baum
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Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) is a student of human behavior who has trained himself to recognize microexpressions in faces and subtle body movement to detect if someone is lying. As the head of The Lightman Group, he is hired as a consultant to police, companies and private citizens to sniff out the truth in various investigations. His high-level staff consists of the equally schooled Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams), the pathologically honest Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) and the natural lie detector Ria Torres (Monica Raymund).
WHAT I LIKED
The modern FOX television line-up seems to have a corner on the market for shows about straight-talking smart people who have no problem bucking the system. In “Fringe,” you have Walter, a scientific savant who spouts the right answer even if it’s politically incorrect. In “House,” you have Hugh Laurie as the genius doctor in charge of differential diagnosis. And in “Lie to Me,” you have Cal as the man who will always call your bluff.
I have described “Lie to Me” to friends as “House” without the medical degree. There are many parallels, starting with the main characters’ self destructive personal lives. The formula of these shows are the same, where the lead has to dig through a set of lies to get to the truth. And Tim Roth brings the same level of quality to “Lie to Me” that Hugh Laurie brings to “House.”
With so many cop shows out there, it’s hard to differentiate a series, but “Lie to Me” manages to do that pretty well. It’s your basic mystery-of-the-week show, but the story gives the characters these lie-detecting tools that makes them seem more powerful than your average person. However, the stories are written in such a way that just identifying the lie isn’t enough, and they still have to detect the motives behind their subjects.
Tim Roth offers a solid, acerbic performance as Cal, and he’s tempered by the pretty and more level-headed Kelli Williams. Add the young and eager character of Ria Torres (played by the very fetching Monica Raymund) to the mix, and you have a good front line of actors.
After watching several episodes of “Lie to Me,” it’s tempting to think that you would be able to detect all people’s lies. And while there’s truth to the processes shown in the series, I would imagine that things don’t work out so neatly in real life... but it doesn’t hurt to try.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
“Lie to Me,” while a compelling show, still needs to settle into its characters a bit. As a mid-season replacement, season one had a relatively short run, and things should smooth out in season two. The character of Eli Loker can be a bit too abrasive as he (and the rest of the characters as well) violate their own code of truthful conduct when the series requires it.
Some of the shows do tend to pass off the characters for the mystery storyline a bit too much, which lets the characters stagnate a bit. And at times, the mystery story can get a bit preachy, in particular episodes dealing with racism and terrorism.
Finally, as cool as it is to see the different microexpressions and what they might possibly mean, I found myself a bit irritated with the characters always seeming to call out the lie whenever they got the chance. However, leading into season two, I expect these overt calls to be suppressed a bit as the series gels.
The three-disc Blu-ray release contains the same content as the four-disc DVD release. All thirteen episodes are included, along with twenty minutes of deleted scenes that are culled from the season.
A 25-minute featurette called “The Truth About Lies,” found on the last disc, tells the story of how the series was launched, how the cast was chosen and who is the biggest liar in the bunch. It also gives a bit of the history of microexpression analysis and the work of Paul Ekman, whom Cal is loosely based on.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Those who want a mystery-of-the-week with a twist premise.