It’s pretty easy to envision the sort of meeting that led to the creation of Fox’s new show Lie to Me. A bunch of Fox exec’s were sitting in a room, trying to figure out how to recreate the success of their hit show House. “Wait, what if we get another really smart guy to solve mysteries, and he has to be an asshole?” To find out whether or not this by the numbers, recreate your previous success model approach works, hit the jump.
This time, it does. (Yeah, I won’t keep you in suspense.)
Lie to Me centers on Dr Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) a so called “human lie detector.” He runs a consultation firm that is brought into various situations to determine the truth. Yay mysteries! Joining Lightman on his truth hunting adventures are fellow detectors Dr Gillian Forester (Kelli Williams), Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) and Ria Torres (Monica Raymund).
The main reason this show works is Tim Roth. As Dr. Cal Lightman he’s just as much fun to watch as Fox’s other smart misanthropist, and much like that other show, the rest of Lie to Me’s cast struggles to keep up with Roth. They do a reasonably good job, but no stand out favorites emerged in my viewing of the 1st season. The episodes tend to be somewhat formulaic, with a predictable set of events familiar to most mystery shows. Small bits of ongoing character driven plot points get peppered in there, but seldom take full stage in the first season.
With Roth being so effortlessly captivating, it’s easy to give him all the credit and ignore all the work that goes on behind the scenes. Thankfully Fox included a featurette “The Truth Behind Lie to Me” that combines some facts about the hard science of micro expressions as well as a good look at the creation of the show, with special focus on series creator Samual Baum. In case you’re wondering, that paragraph was not sarcasm. This featurette actual made me want to go back and watch some of the episodes again. It also pointed out some of the less obvious things that make the show work, but if I quote them here I’ll just feel like an opinion stealing hack.
Suffice to say, after watching it I have to go back and re-imagine my Fox’s execs, this time they hear a really interesting and intelligent pitch from Sam Baum, who then dumbs it down and gets a job by saying “Its like House, but with ‘human lie detector’ instead of a doctor.”
Here’s to hoping the second season keeps doing things right, and improves on this good thing to make it even better.*
*Season 2 starts on September 28th. Buy the first season, mainline it like heroine, and be ready.