"Lie to Me" Review: Carrying on a Great Tradition
When I hear that a show is coming from Imagine Television, I get excited. After all, Imagine has brought us some of the best shows of the last 10 years…
There’s the late great “Sports Night,” the late great “Arrested Development,” and a little show you may know I love and adore called “24.”
So does “Lie to Me” carry on the Imagine tradition?
Yes, it does…
Tim Roth stars as Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert in the science behind lying. Lightman believes that we all lie the same, so he uses his knowledge of microexpressions (the small facial expressions we make) to determine who is lying and who is telling the truth.
Lightman runs The Lightman Group, a private firm hired by everyone from the FBI to the Democratic National Committee to determine liars. Lightman’s partner is psychiatrist Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams). Joining them is Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) who always tells the truth (no matter how uncomfortable it might be) and new recruit Ria Torres (Monica Raymund).
The show is rooted in the real-life scientific research of Dr. Paul Ekman, who serves as a consultant to the show. That science is spelled out to the viewer in a fascinating manner, including comparisons to real-life liars (Bill Clinton among them).
In the opener, the group investigates the #1 suspect in the murder of a teacher—a student who’s a devout Jehovah’s Witness. They also look into a Congressional sex scandal. Both cases take more than a few unexpected turns during the hour.
And that’s part of what makes the show work. As Foster says in the premiere, the important thing is not that someone is lying, but why they are lying. Lightman finds the liars fairly quickly. It’s the why that makes the show go.
But the biggest part of what makes the show work is Tim Roth. Roth never allows Lightman to come off as an arrogant jerk. Yes, Lightman is extremely intelligent, but he’s also quite funny. And he even manages to be a little endearing along the way—especially when it comes to his daughter.
Kelli Williams—who truly deserves a hit show—is the perfect foil to Roth as she brings a more optimistic approach to a rather pessimistic profession.
It would be easy to write off “Lie” as a copycat of “The Mentalist,” but that would be a mistake. Yes, there are some similarities, but the tone of the two is quite different. While “Mentalist” has a lighter look and feel to it, “Lie” has an almost seedy quality to it which helps heighten the suspense.
“Lie” is an engaging and intriguing drama that will not only entertain you, it will also completely change the way you look at people.
And that’s no lie…
“Lie to Me” premieres Wednesday, January 21st at 9 p.m. on FOX…
Photo Credit: Frank Ockenfels/FOX & Mike Yarish/FOX