Review: Lie To Me 2×1

I won't lie to you - it's not getting better

In the US: Monday September 28, 9/8c, Fox
In the UK: Thursday October 8, 10pm, Sky 1/Sky 1 HD

As you can imagine, with so much TV for me to watch and review, there’s a certain discipline involved if I’m ever going to have a life (arguably, I still need to get one). Thankfully, chez moi, the Carusometer is in charge, and once it’s passed its third-episode verdict, I abide by its ruling decision and ditch a programme it doesn’t rate.

Lie to Me I dropped after the third episode, on the general grounds that while the Carusometer loved Tim Roth, it thought the rest of the cast rubbish, the format ludicrous and too much an obvious copy of House‘s and Bones‘s, and the plots mediocre.

But Shawn Ryan, former exec producer on the now-defunct The Shield and The Unit, took over as show runner for this season. He’s been making interesting noises during interviews, that suggested he could see the flaws in the show, too. So I decided to leap back for the premiere episode of the second season to see if there are notable improvements.

It’s definitely better, but there are still serious flaws. Good old Carusometer. It’s always right.

Plot (spoilers!)
A young woman approaches Lightman at his book signing because she thinks she is innocent of committing a murder. Yet she has multiple personalities, and Lightman takes on her case because he believes one of her other personalities may be responsible. He discovers that the woman was a witness to the murder.

Lightman passes off helping Agent Reynolds vet a potential Supreme Court nominee, and gives it to Torres to handle. The nominee does not treat Torres with respect because she is so young. Torres learns to put her preconceived judgments about the man aside when she analyzes the facts.

Zoe informs Lightman that she is taking their daughter Emily and moving to Chicago to open a law firm. Lightman buys out her stake in The Lightman Group so that she can start her own practice in town.

Created by Samuel Baum, LIE TO ME is executive-produced by Shawn Ryan, Brian Grazer, David Nevins, Daniel Voll, Samuel Baum, Dan Sackheim, Vahan Moosekian, Liz Craft and Sarah Fain. Dr. Paul Ekman serves as scientific consultant. The series is produced by Imagine Television in association with 20th Century Fox Television. Dan Sackheim directed the season premiere episode.

Is it any good (also spoilers!)? 
There’s a slight problem with having Tim Roth in any show. Unless your cast is very good, it’s going to be blindingly obvious how bad they are when they’re stuck next to him.

Watching Lie To Me, I really felt for those poor actors. They’d have been fine on Bones but here, it was just embarassing, because Tim Roth’s just so very, very good. So that’s still an issue, since the poor loves haven’t improved any since last time I tuned in.

No sign of Shawn Ryan’s efforts there then.

One thing that is missing in action is the constant usage before ad breaks of celebrities lying their arses off. This was one of the few good things about the show. It makes it subtler – and God knows it needed to be subtler – and they’ve now found ways to include it in the plot, but I kind of miss it. Is that one of Ryan’s changes? Anyone?

The main plot itself – a woman says she witnessed a murder in a psychic vision but she isn’t lying – was okay. It was actually a little unpleasant in places, when our man Roth has to pretend to want to rape her to cause her alternative protective personality to emerge, and it all could have gone spectacularly wrong (he really should have told someone what he was doing, first). But it was interesting from a psychological point of view.

The various Roth family sub-plots were relatively engrossing, and you can see what Ryan means about the ability to spot any lie being a curse that isolates you. And the B-plot in which the ‘natural lie detector’ woman has to interview a potential Supreme Court nominee was just about passable, with a ‘home truth’ from Roth at the end that managed to lift it slightly.

But as a whole, while it feels less of a patchwork quilt of other formats and more its own show, it still lacks the depth, strength of format and decent supporting characters/cast to make it worth watching. Plus the ratings aren’t good now it’s moved to Mondays, so it’s probably not long for this world any more. Oh well.

PS: I might be back, just for the Lennie James episode. Ooh, two good actors in the show. What will happen then?


  • I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on the podcast Lockdown Land or Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.