“Cal Lightman sees the truth. It’s written all over your face. It’s also in your voice, your posture, the words you choose. Give him five minutes and 20 questions and he’ll know whether you went off to Argentina to cheat on your wife, lied about a well-timed stock sale, or murdered a one-night stand.”
I spent quite a few years as a detective. My specialty turned out to be in the interview room. When some of my fellow detectives had a suspect they couldn’t break, they often called me in. It was my job to get the person talking. You see, the company’s insurance recovery from the theft was based on how much I could get the thief to admit they had taken over and above whatever they just got busted for. I have to admit that I rather enjoyed the job. I was able to read the person’s emotions well enough to gauge how my approaches were making the suspect feel. The key was to be able to separate the truth from the deception. Well, it turns out there’s a science behind what I just took as instinct. Apparently, our faces and body language are almost impossible to control, and anyone who could read and translate that language would be nearly impossible to deceive. I don’t recall consciously looking for any of these things. I could just tell. After watching a season of Lie To Me, I’m not so sure that there wasn’t more to it than just instinct.
Cal Lightman (Roth) has spent his life studying human expression. He spent years with primitive cultures, untouched by modern trappings, to hone this art to a very reliable method of detecting deception. He has established a think-tank organization called The Lightman Group. They work with the FBI and private companies and people to consult on deception. Roth’s a bit arrogant and more than a little full of himself. Even his employees question his social skills, but he gets the job done, and he’s passed along this knowledge to his employees and students in the company. His partner is Dr. Gillian Foster (Williams). She’s a certified psychiatrist and an equity partner in the firm. She serves as Lightman’s conscience most of the time. His two brightest students and assistants are Eli Loker (Hines), an ambitious but somewhat naive upstart, and Ria Torres (Raymund). She’s quiet and quite calculating. She used to be a baggage inspector. The team has an FBI liaison since they work often with the agency. Agent Ben Reynolds (Phifer) fills that bill. Often he has to pick sides between Lightman and the FBI, but he’s seen enough to have faith in what Lightman can do. Lightman’s ex-wife (Beals) is a lawyer, and Lightman consults both for and against her. They have a 16-year-old daughter Emily (McFarland), who is at that age of experimentation and self-discovery which drives Lightman completely bonkers. Lightman’s been banned from the entire city of Vegas because of what he can do. For the most part, the group operates out of Washington, D.C.
The show’s strong suit is Roth himself. It’s actually quite surprising to see him doing television, particularly in America. The next strength of the show has to be the sheer variety of cases. Because it’s not strictly a law-enforcement procedural, the cases are more diverse than you normally find in prime time. There are crimes as well as scams and business deals that make up the life-blood of the series. The 40 minutes flies by here. Very entertaining stuff. You don’t even have to have seen the first season. I hadn’t, but I was up to speed in no time at all. There is even an episode that flashes back to how Lightman and Foster first met. You’ll have no trouble at all picking the show up from this point. I suspect you’ll like it enough to seek out the first season anyway, but I don’t think you’ll find it necessary in order to enjoy this season.
The series counts The Shield’s Shawn Ryan as an executive producer. That’s good news for the audience. Ryan always keeps the action going, never fear. There is even a Shield-themed episode that brings several cast members from that show together in one episode. You’ll get: Cathy Ryan, Catherine Dent, Benito Martinez, David Rees Snell, Kenny Johnson and David Marciano. Really good stuff. Melissa George joins the cast for several episodes, first as a suspect the firm proves innocent and later as an investor in the firm. It looked like they were toying with the idea of adding her to the mix but decided to back off of the idea. I rather thought she added something to the chemistry.
You get all 22 episodes on 6 discs.
Each episode of Lie To Me is presented in its original broadcast 1.78:1 aspect ratio. I still maintain that four episodes on a DVD is at least one too many. There are compression issues, and black levels are only fair. Don’t look for any clear shadow definition. The rest of the picture looks natural enough. I suspect it’s about on par with the broadcast. Flesh tones are particularly accurate, which is good because the series relies heavily on facial close-ups.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 offers a few nice ambient moments, but mostly you’re getting dialog here. It’s all fine and well placed; just don’t look for too much ear candy.
There are a couple of cast and crew Audio Commentary tracks on select episodes.
Deleted Scenes on select episodes.
Gag Reel: (3:43)
Lie Detection Tutorial: (22:36) The cast talk about what it’s like to be around a real-life human lie detector in show consultant Dr. Paul Ekman. That’s who the character of Lightman was based upon. In a cute twist, he profiles the cast and crew interviews to point out some of their emotions while answering questions. He breaks it down like Lightman would do on the show.
Eli Loker – An Honest Man: (5:00) A character profile of Loker. Plenty of input from the actor. Much of it reverts back to Dr. Ekman talking about deception again not really relating to the character at all.
Tim Roth really makes the show. There is certainly a good supporting cast, but you are going to want to watch this one to see Tim Roth in action. He has that flippant British manner that is both a little endearing and a romp to watch. I’m not sure if I buy into so much of the science at all. Still, Roth has me sold. Watch just one episode and tell me that it wasn’t a lot of fun. “You do know I can tell when you’re lying, don’t you?”