Lie to Me (2009–2011)
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Tim Roth (great as always!) plays Dr. Cal Lightman, a human lie-detector, who's able to detect any lie from people's body language. That ability comes in handy when catching criminals, but it also provides him with the misfortune of always knowing when someone is not honest with him, sometimes leading to unfortunate situations. Lightman is a cynic and unpleasant character, who's willing to do anything to find out if someone is telling the truth or not.
The series also features a strong supporting cast, including Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster, whose husband is cheating on her, a fact everyone of her colleagues is aware of, except herself. Brendan Hines' character is always telling the truth no matter how embarrassing and Monica Raymund starrs as Ria Torres, who has the natural ability of seeing if someone is lying. That often leads to conflict with Lightman, who refuses to believe her ability is as accurate as his, since he needed years of training, while she was just born with her talent.
Yes, there are parallels with other series, especially "The Mentalist", but those are pretty much limited to the ability of the main character being able to detect the truth from people's movements and voices. Besides "Lie to Me" is focused on the science of detecting lies, something completely ignored in "The Mentalist". For example, it will take a person who's telling the truth longer to respond than one who's lying, because the one telling the truth needs to think about the answer.
The only real flaw after 5 episodes is in my opinion that not enough character history is provided. We literally don't know anything about the characters, except a few details. I have no doubt we'll eventually find out more, but it's about time they start. All in all, the series is great fun and entertainment, and maybe you'll be able to pick up one or the other lie in the future, thanks to Lightman's group.
Now I'm watching season 3 and I'm considering not watching the rest. It's almost as if the writers assumed that their viewers all watched from the very first episode. No more clever observations with body language, no more quick zooms to show the audience what emotion the accused is showing, no more focus on the original premise. Not only do I find that there's less and less observation going on and more focus on guesswork and 'gut feelings', but it seems the range of emotions being detected has literally been reduced to the recurring 'guilt', 'fear' and 'shame'. Where is the broad range? Where is what we saw in season 1? It feels like the writers assume that their viewers already know the whole shtick of being shown exactly how a character displays a certain emotion, skips that part and goes straight to the diagnoses. Not only that but it seems that the characters are manipulated less and less and it's become more about tricking the characters into coming to the Lightman Group and being interrogated in the box.
I've also noticed that the 3 supporting characters are constantly being berated by Cal Lightman. He seems to give less and less weight to their opinions and it always silently criticising them. This wouldn't bother me had it been that way from the start - but as the character of Cal becomes less likable due to his now highly exaggerated eccentricity, his two subordinates are reduced to bumbling, guessing idiots in his presence. They rarely make intelligent observations - in fact...where did the science even go in this program?!
Another thing I don't enjoy generally in programs, something that has been used here, is the emphasis on Cal's shallow subplot. Just as the science is mentioned less, so the back story of Cal Lightman is emphasised. Granted, he and the actor who plays his daughter have incredible on-screen chemistry and she is rather likable with her ability to call her father out on his faults, all while flashing her big doey eyes. But in my opinion, her character is overly mature for a 16- year-old girl and it's becoming irritating that she constantly barges into her father's office demanding to know what he's up to. The others respond to her as if she were their boss, not as if she were a 16-year- old girl with no business being around the office. And...can someone tell her to change her facial expression? Pretty please?
Overall I enjoy the show but I really wish the writers would stay true to the original intent of the show - to play around with the fascinating science of human behaviour and come up with mysteries that can be cleverly unwoven by behavioural observation, rather than simply interrogating every single witness and showing a gros plan of their apparently scared faces. I'm giving this a 5 because the first season was brilliant, and as its quality decreased, so did the score.
The other characters compliment each other well, and use their personal characteristics to colour their judgments/choices, which is true to life.
Very intelligent show so far.
Hope it stays on the air.
The show's about Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) as a sort of a superhero. He's a human lie detector. He looks for dozens of subtle tells in the face and on the body. He's studied human communication so intensely that he always knows if someone is concealing something.
His company, so far, is involved with police and political matters. There's some significant room to bring in lots of personal interplay as well (we've seen a glimpse of that already).
This is from Imagine Entertainment, the company that does 24. I hope that, as the show evolves, that the fate of the planet doesn't rest on everything that Dr. Lightman does and says. One Jack Bauer is plenty, thanks.
I also hope that the show doesn't become driven by an overarching nemesis. Shows with a strong internal mythology and skin-tight story arcs can be fun, but we've seen so much of them lately that I wouldn't mind seeing the episodic adventures of a flawed hero trying to do something right.
But in hopes that someone hears this... please bring this back. Given the recent election cycle, there is more than enough mendacity to supply a plethora of scripts and story lines. We need Dr. Lightman now more than ever today. And no problem to bring along Lightman's sub plot of his daughter who would be in her 20s.
It would be the berries to bring this back.
But last night's pilot delivered many great performances, not only from Roth, but the supporting guest cast as well. The episode itself had a pleasant mixture of drama, comedy, and sharp dialog.
Despite what some may think, it is possible to tell from a show's pilot whether or not the show will succeed. From what I saw last night, I can see this show going a long, long way. The formula that the show's staff have come up with is, yes, still in its conceptual stages. But they're definitely on to something, and I hope to see a rising popularity in America for Dr. Lightman and his team.
The second season was flawed, but still entertaining. The third season, however, was a complete disaster. It needed to be canceled at that point as it was no longer salvageable so, dare I say, Fox made the right choice. If you haven't seen this show before, do yourself a favor and watch the entire first season. You won't be disappointed.
What makes it unique is its documentary-style cuts; showing how to spot deceptions using real-life examples -- Clinton, Rumsfeld, Nixon, etc. The storyline itself is adequate but these extra insights stand the show apart from anything ever broadcast before. In this age of dumbing down broadcast TV to the point of being unwatchable, its "Smart TV" approach really is worth supporting...maybe it will start a trend; kind of an anti-Survivor.
Murdoch will probably kill it so enjoy it while you can. On the bright side, if it does die maybe it will find a home at one of the cable stations that'll show it more love.
The rising star of villain roles from '90s, Tim Roth, had shone through "Reservoir Dogs(1992)" and "Pulp Fiction(1994)" on the silver-screen. Though he was passing over poor years of his career recently. Here in "Lie to Me" he's being precisely rediscovered as a leading actor, playing Dr. Lightman. Under Samuel Baum's screenplay and character development, Roth has brought himself to perfectly fit within his role, the way we know him. Wasn't he the one, who reveals that the traitor in the gang team in Reservoir Dogs, just with using his glowering glances? Then there is Kelli Williams who plays Dr. Lightman's partner. Together with Roth they have an excellent chemistry having opposite characters with each other. Dr. Lightman's new trainee Loker also adds more fun to the film, where the mood begins to get boring. Loker has made himself known as being extremely straightforward at the office, so his straightforward behaviors seem like earning him the credibility he desires to have. In fact, he's afraid of Dr. Lightman's psychological techniques which always work as effective as a lie detector.
Despite the interesting script and successful characterizations, story development is very weak since the plot doesn't draw any benefit from using any subplot. It's of the crime/thriller genre for a TV-series, and the story is very plain, thus leans its back against the actors. The mood gets boring through repeating the display samples of how to catch people lying; and only a bad sense of humor comes to rescue after that. If we analyze thoroughly; Dr. Lightman first explains his theories, then shows the proof of each one with a live person sample, finally he reaches a conclusion and adds his thesis as a new rule every time. His theory depends on a basis that says: "A person's body contradicts his words, when he's lying". If you've watched the film "Analyze This(1999)" ; you might consider one important fact that if somebody, whom you're talking to is unstrung for the moment, acts as if he/she is calm; then Dr.Lightman's thesis would deny itself; just like Robert De Niro did while talking to Billy Crystal. Dr. Lightman shakes hands with the suspect two times at his interrogation. After his second hand shake, Lightman gets the idea that the suspect was lying; since his body temperature dropped leaving him a cooler touch in the palm of his hand. In Michael Douglas's "Basic Instinct(1992)" ; Douglas was under interrogation at the beginning of the movie with three detectives and a lie detector. He used the same method that De Niro used in Analyze This, even fooling the lie detector; which works with a similar idea: Depending on the change of blood pressure in suspect's body between hearing and answering questions.
After the first couple episodes, I hoped we'll be seeing some criminals who can fool Dr.Lightman; to offer more tension and suspense. Yet, I was disappointed with the same formula used in the following episodes, lacking tension and suspense. There are questions of justice coming to mind; such as the lack of evidence and the ultimate question of how influential can Dr.Lightman's methods be in a law suite, if the suspect is supported by his/her lawyer. Overall, "Lie to Me" is a good choice for sharing an evening with your whole family. Only sex-related dialogues and mild language cannot be suitable for children at all.
Pros: Show main idea is fresh and interesting. Acting is generally good and episodes vary in content.
Cons: I wouldn't go as far as saying that Im an expert in body language, but it is safe to say that I know what Im talking about. Its absolutely idiotic to say that someone lies, because they touch their face. It is very general mistake to take one gesture and misread the intention. One needs to study the normal behavior of certain person. To study how they react to different situations. If this cannot be accomplished, one needs to "normalise" the situation. Meaning, to decide how would a person normally act in certain situation. Moreover, one gesture DOES NOT reveal anything. Experts are generally looking cluster of gestures (meaning several clues, this can be compared to police investigation). Body language only amplifies the feeling. This really takes the edge of this program.
When they discover certain gesture they directly jump to conclusions, like in CSI. They wont even consider other possibilities. After watching six episodes, it gets really unreal and repetitive. As an example, they go and search a person's house, just because the person closed her hand-palm, when a question was asked. In real life it needs a warrant, which needs a probable cause. Not a hunch of a person, who is not even a police. It simply undermines peoples intelligence. "You are lying" "Now you are telling the truth"; thats mainly and unfortunately only what this show is about. There isn't ongoing plot, and character development is one to two minutes per episode.
Summasummarum: Its good way to kill an hour, but only for four or five hours, then one has seen it all. (hopefully my English was understandable)
It has pretty cool story lines and is very well acted, but the characters are starting to drift into dangerous territory.
The lead character, for example, is turning into a superhuman that is always smarter than everyone, always right and no matter the dilemma, always "playing" (cleverly conning) everyone.
None of the other main characters can challenge him - even his business partner has been watered down in power.
Instead of experts using an amazing tool, it's becoming about an amazing person using a tool.
If you look into this issue, you'll find that Roth's contract allows him "right of refusal" on any script. Writers have complained, but this is one of those situations when the actor has storyline control.
Hopefully, we'll see the show move back to having problems that "can" baffle the expert(s) and show how they can brilliantly deal with situations when the science only takes them part of the way - which is what makes the CSI formula so successful.
Fact: humans are all different, and the same gesture can mean different things depending on age, cultural background, life experience, health, state of mind, current circumstances, whether or not you're thirsty or preoccupied with something, etc. Put simply, you cannot look at someone and "know they are lying".
In every episode I've watched, just as things start to get interesting, we get a silly scene of painful exposition where we learn about another "tell", ie "he looked down when she looked at him, he's feeling guilty about something", and "she bit her lip, that means she's lying". On the basis of such tiny, simple gestures, they will set out to hang someone.
The only thing more ridiculous is the fact that there are people out there who believe this ignorant stupidity.
I've made three attempts. That's enough, life is just too short.
However, the idea behind this show is quite revolutionary, for it centers around the science of lie detection and applying it in so many fields including but not limited to law enforcement. Even though body "language" may be culture specific, Lie to Me exposes the fact that there are "micro-expressions" that we make involuntarily as our face responds to different emotions, whether fear, contempt, arousal, or even when telling a lie, that is universal to all... The show even inserts real images of real people (mostly well known politicians, athletes or felons) that have the same micro-expression the character they are interviewing does, which makes the show that much more credible and interesting.
The actors are simply brilliant, Tim Roth who plays the lead Dr.Cal Lightman, is excellent, and Kelli Williams who plays Dr.Foster his partner at the Lightman group makes the show that much more enjoyable as she plays the role of the intelligent yet well balanced and well grounded woman, that is perhaps the only one that can keep Cal in check, and they have incredible on screen chemistry.
Long story short, this show is extremely entertaining and thought provoking, and every episode is better than the last, I'm sure it will stay with us for a while, and I must say, I can't wait to see what more they have to show us.
The problem with 'Lie To Me' is that it feels so fake. They way it is filmed, and the way the characters easily figure out complex problems without much time, gives the audience a feeling that their being duped. Each episode appears to be complicated but somehow it always wraps up into a neat package that's supposed to be easy to digest. As a result there is no suspense and the show feels flat. Normally, films or TV shows about remarkable people work because of the obstacles they must overcome. However, in 'Lie to Me', there simply aren't enough obstacles the characters need to overcome and everything seems so easy. There is no pleasure watching someone figure out problems when they always get it right.
"Lie To Me also suffers from the complexities of its premise. In order to make the show feel authentic, a good portion of each episode consists of the characters explaining things and this gets quite boring.
As each new episode airs, the show's formula becomes more and more obvious, to the point at which one cannot find an ounce of reality. And the clichés keep on coming.
The characters are quite stale and are caricatures. They lack any complexity and emotional depth and are thus hard to believe.
As a result, it is slick and unsatisfying.
'Lie To Me' feels exactly like that: a lie.
The acting also gets worse by the episode, once you realize how shallow the show is. Maybe there's some real science behind it all, but come on, what happens if someone just doesn't admit the crime? Basically these people are human lie detectors, and mind you one of them is a 'natural', born with the ability to tell if someone is lying, or acquired that ability naturally, without studying. Anyhow, the show goes a steep way down from interesting to boring and predictable in the first four episodes.
The shows pilot episode attracted a fairly sizable audience (13.19 million), but now I see that every week their ratings are dropping farther and farther, and have now even gotten below 10 million viewers! All I am hoping is that sooner or later, people will realize that this is a show worth watching, and one that will hopefully be around for a while.