Lie to Me

America must really be afraid of putting American actors into lead roles lately. Especially when they’re required to be just a little bit left of centre. We’ve got Hugh Laurie, Damian Lewis, Simon Baker, Jason O’Mara and Toni Collette just to name a few who are prominent right now.

Enter Tim Roth, in Lie to Me which premieres today in the US. Roth plays Dr. Cal Lightman, an expert in reading body language, facial expressions and all manner of deception. He runs a private company housed in an ultra-sleek, contemporary building where he and his team of fellow body-readers solve some of the great mysteries troubling the local law enforcement.

Like Dr. Gregory House, Charlie Crews and Patrick Jane, his methods are just a little bit outside conventions, but that’s okay for a guy who watches on with quiet awe and speaks with a distinct accent (Roth keeps his British accent).

The examples of reading bodily language here are rather nifty. What do we make of those upturned lips, the raised shoulder, a clenched fist, or in maintaining eye contact? How does genuine surprise differ from faked surprise? Apparently one is longer than the other. The visual enhancements utilised within the story make a persuasive case. Still, I think body language was a revelation in 1979 not 2009, surely?

Ironically, as I watched such movements being dissected and analysed I found myself less convinced of the facial expressions of some of the supporting cast. Hey, I didn’t draw attention to phony acting -you did, remember?

Assisting Lightman are a House-like team, with Kelli Williams as his main female sidekick, Brendan Hines as a guy who says what he feels (“I want to sleep with you”) and newest recruit Monica Reymund.

The first episode features two cases. Business must be good. It might have been a little easier to follow if one was a clearer ‘A Plot’ and ‘B Plot’ but they are confidently told.

If it weren’t for the fact that we already have The Mentalist, and still remember Psych or Monk, this would start out stronger than merely being the fourth in a flavour-of-the-month genre. Still, thanks to Roth it is engaging enough so far.

Lie to Me might also have been a good follow on for TEN once House and Life conclude. Do we really have room in one week for the wacky-but-smart-guy in another procedural show?

Time will tell.

Lie to Me premieres 9:30pm Tuesday February 3rd on TEN.


  1. hmmm – I think it’s a little bit of House combined with Cold Case. Roth is good – and I’d like to keep watching it.

    I have a thing for body language so it’s interesting to me.

    But you’re right – once they get a good formula, they just tweak it a wee bit with different faces or slightly different plots – and there you have it, a new series!

  2. bindi – “good to see 10 putting in some effort with promotion the way 7 does.”

    The Lie to Me promos are Fox’s promos with the Ten logo on them instead.

  3. Lie to Me won’t be axed any time soon, it has the American Idol lead in in the states, and its a procedural to boot. Fox’s only other cop procedural ATM is Bones, so they’ll hold on to this for all its worth. I expect it to get at least 6 seasons, possibly more. Something tells me Life on Mars will be axed either this season or the next, ABC are the new FOX when it comes to axing shows lately (PD, DSM, Eli, etc)

  4. It’s pretty amazing how many Aussies and Poms are getting the leads in show these days. I mean Fringe has two of them as does Withou A Trace.

    I’ve always like Tim Roth. He’s just the type of actor I love. But he’s also the type of actor that not many people would go crazy about and be huge in Hollywood. But the best actors are always the ones that don’t get recognized. All the Hollywood A-list stars are pretty crap.

    I hope Lie to Me doesn’t disappoint. I have a feeling I’ll like it better than The Mentalist, which I really enjoy anyway. I don’t think it’ll be better than Monk and Psych though.

  5. my pick out of which will fail out of this and life on mars was going to be this, however yesterday they started with some new ads for lie to me which step it up a notch and make it seem far more interesting, so who knows, although they should follow suit and launch some new ads for life on mars too, but i don’t feel i can call which one will sink any more so it is good to see 10 putting in some effort with promotion the way 7 does.

  6. re: “America must really be afraid of putting American actors into lead roles lately.”

    The best show for an example of that is True Blood. A show set in the deepest South of the US, with the 3 biggest characters played by a Kiwi, and Aussie & a Brit!!

  7. Good on you for scooping the review David. I’ll give it a watch, but I do wonder if Tim Roth will be charismatic enough to keep audiences and/or whether audiences are over this genre. A good example is House, which towards the end of last year as I recal, its ratings plummeted.

  8. Ah so that’s what it was..interesting

    I’ll be watching but I just know I’ll get into it and it’ll be axed

    It won’t be as good as The Mentalist or Monk but still it looks like it’s worth checking out.

  9. I’m really looking forward to this show, along with Life on Mars. I feel that 10 has probably got the strongest international line-up of all the networks this year and I hope that the first half of 2009 is just as strong for 10 as the second half of 2008 was weak.

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