Tuesday, 24 May 2016
Lie to Me, Season 1 (2009)
I caught some of Lie to Me back when it was on TV and enjoyed it, but the network did that all too common "shuffle it all over the schedule" thing and I lost track of it. So when I saw the complete series on DVD I picked it up.
The show was inspired by the work of Paul Ekman, a psychologist regarded as the "best human lie detector in the world" for his work on studying emotions and how we express them. His in-show counterpart is Dr Cal Lightman, who runs a consultancy which assists the FBI and other government agencies - as well as high-paying private concerns - to find the truth in complicated or emergency situations. His team are trained to recognise "micro expressions"; tiny physical tics of the face that reveal the emotions we are truly experiencing, no matter how much we try to conceal them.
How plausible this would be in the real world, I couldn't say. There are certainly people who reject Ekman's methods. But as a premise for a show, I'm certainly willing to accept it. It gives Lightman's team a reason to be involved in all kinds of cases with all kinds of clients, and gives them a powerful set of tools without being an instant "I win" button.
So obviously the show is in essence a police procedural, even though the Lightman group aren't actually police themselves. There are of course many such shows on the air. For my money Lie to Me rises above the average due to its strong cast, headed by Tim Roth, and by the fun character writing around Lightman himself. He's a deliberately provocative fellow, always pushing people's buttons - whether those people be suspects, clients or colleagues. He's abrasive fun to watch (though not, I imagine, to be around!). The show also does a good job of depicting the friendship between Lightman and his 2IC, Dr Gillian Foster. Foster is one of the few people who can generally keep her cool around Lightman, and makes a good counterpart to him in any scenes.
If this kind of thing is your kind of thing, you should check out this show. I wouldn't lie to you, would I?