Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lie to Me

I thought it was long since time that I checked in with a review of Lie to Me, which last night aired episode 5 of its second season on Fox.

It's one of my and my wife's favorite shows, and along with 24, Bones, House, and (formerly) The Shield, makes Fox easily the network with the greatest number of cutting edge, entertaining series on television.

Lie to Me serves up a riveting variety of stories - including politics, police work, and all manner of business and personal relationships - all tied together by Dr. Cal Lightman's genius is reading facial expressions and body language for truth and falsity of communication. The science is sound - Paul Ekman, whose work I examined in my own PhD studies, is the source of the science and an adviser to the show. Tim Roth's acting is brilliant and volatile as Lightman, and the supporting case is stellar, too.

My favorites are Kelli Williams as Lightman's partner Dr. Gillian Foster - I've enjoyed her work since she was Lindsay on The Practice - and Monica Raymund as Ria Torres, one of the hottest women on television. Unlike Lightman and Foster, who studied their way to facial expression mastery, Ria is a natural, which gives her an intriguing packet of advantages and flaws in comparison to her bosses.

Lightman is divorced from Zoe Landau, played by Jennifer Beals, whom I'm glad to see continuing on television after a fine run in The L Word. Foster is divorced, too, and is certainly in some kind of love with Lightman, who feels the same way about her. But their attraction so far is less erotic than Bones and Booth, if equally under the surface.

And even the more minor characters are unusual, including Brendan Hines as Loker, who veers between going by the book and taking matters into his own hands, and Mekhi Phifer as FBI Agent Ben Reynolds, not quite willing to do whatever Lightman asks, but coming through in the end in one way or another.

The series engagingly grapples with the ethics of colleagues who can easily know more about each other than any of them would want, and the pros and cons of reading the lies of their clients. Mix into that some great photos of real politicians and other public people with lying eyes and faces, and you have a series that is at once more realistic and out of left field than just about anything else on television.

I'll be reviewing episodes more regularly from now on. You can't see my face, but I can assure you that's true...

7-min podcast review of Lie to Me

The Plot to Save Socrates

"challenging fun" - Entertainment Weekly

"a Da Vinci-esque thriller" - New York Daily News

"Sierra Waters is sexy as hell" - curled up with a good book

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