Lie to Me, on Fox Monday nights at 9:00 pm, seemed to me to begin as a show that I would sum up with this representative bit of dialogue:
Good guy: “You’re lying.”
Bad Guy: “No, I’m not.”
Good Guy: “You are. I can tell. The lines of your mouth are moving just so and your eyes crinkle a bit when you lie.”
Bad Guy: “My God! You’ve got me – I admit everything!”
In other words, the show didn’t seem particularly sophisticated in its approach to storytelling, nor to its approach to thinking about detection.
But having watched a number of episodes this year, I must say that the show is starting to grow on me and evolve nicely in its complexity. It has a main storyline that drives each plot, but the show’s development of its secondary characters – especially Loker (played by Brendan Hines), Torres (Monica Raymund), and Agent Reynolds (Mekhi Phifer) – has done much to enrich these storylines with secondary arcs. Tim Roth has been extraordinary as lead character Cal Lightman – his acting has been as good as anyone I’ve seen on television in a long time (and I say that as avowed devotee of Gabriel Byrne in In Treatment). Roth’s ever-shifting facial expressions, his shrugging of his shoulders, his slouch and dragging of his feet – rarely do we get to see an actor on television use all of his body as effectively as he does. Every week is another revelation.
I’d love to see more of Jennifer Beals as Lightman’s ex-wife (who wouldn’t? Even my wife loves her!), but she’s only on rarely. Hayley McFarland does fine as Lightman’s put-upon daughter who is something of a do-gooder. The weak link right now is Kelli Williams as Lightman’s partner Gillian Foster. Her role is very poorly defined and she’s somewhat flailing in the role, apparently looking to ramp up the drama, but seemingly only because she doesn’t have very many useful lines, let alone a useful part to play in any of the episodes.
Roth is the reason to watch the show, for sure, at this point. But it has been nice to see the program improve from its beginning as a crime show wherein some “scientist” kept insisting to the bad guys that they were lying and them confessing for no good reason in the face of his barrage. It’s at least serviceable now, if not great watching.
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