So, a few weeks ago I was stuck for a new TV series to watch and get invested in. After browsing Netflix for a considerable amount of time, I came across the show Lie To Me.
Lie To Me stars Tim Roth as the incredible Dr. Cal Lightman. It also stars Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, Monica Raymund as Ria Torres and Hayley McFarland as Emily Lightman. The plot follows a ‘story of the week’ format with Cal’s company ‘The Lightman Group’ working with a variety of agencies, companies or people to help solve different types of crimes (mostly murder). What does The Lightman Group do you ask? Well. They use the tiny little facial expressions a person naturally creates in order to tell whether or not you’re lying or telling the truth, along with various different kinds of emotions. It ran for 3 seasons before being cancelled.
Now, because this is a TV Series, I feel I have to break down the review differently. So here it goes.
So, Season 1 is 13 episodes long as is actually pretty good. I loved it, the 13 episodes meant nothing got too complicated, everything was simple and you didn’t get bored if you were marathon-ing it like I was.
Now, one of the main things to note about this show, and this applies to all 3 seasons, is that there isn’t really an over-arching plot. Unless you count the relationship between Cal and his daughter Emily, then there isn’t a plot line holding all of these episodes together, they literally have a different crime each week.
The end of Season 1 also introduces Mekhi Phifer as Agent Ben Reynolds. I felt he was an excellent addition to the cast and added that action aspect as he was designated the ‘gun’ of the group. This now meant the episodes could be more intense and action packed rather than just solving a crime in a lab.
A stand-out episode of this season is Blinded. This episode follows The Lightman Group trying to catch a copycat serial killer by talking to the original killer. The performances within this episode from the main cast and from this episodes supporting cast are amazing and you really get a feel for how these crimes have effected people and how important facial expressions are to actually solving a crime.
So, overall, Season One. A very good start to the show, amazing performances especially from Tim Roth and the shortness of the Season really helps.
Season One of Lie To Me: 4.5/5
So, I assume following the success of the 13 episodes from Season One, the studio making the show commissioned a 22 episode run for Season Two. I think this is the first mistake for the Show and shows the start of its downfall. Agent Reynolds is now a main character throughout the series and there are still amazing performances from Tim Roth and Kelli Williams.
However, there is still no over-arching plot and so I also feel this is where the show went wrong. If they included some kind of background plot throughout the series – like many shows do – then there would have been something more for the audience to latch on to and tune into each week. I felt this added to the declining ratings of the show.
Another reason as to why the ratings started to decline? Cal Lightman himself. This is nothing against Tim Roth or his performance but I think it’s down to the writing. Cal’s decisions become a little dubious and he seems to become a lot more emotionless, cold and uncaring. He starts to become a bit rude to people and pushes people to almost breaking point, a lot more than he did in Season One.
Despite these aspects to the character, Season Two’s Cal Lightman is actually quite funny in how rude and disrespectful he is. He takes no shit from anyone and it is actually brilliant to see all of these people try to deal with this erratic mad-man, a performance Tim Roth delivers brilliantly.
Another great point about the character? His relationship with his daughter. Cal and Emily’s relationship should be what every parent aims for with their child. They share everything with each other, they look out and care for each other and they know when to have fun but also know when to be serious. There is great writing for these character and I also think the chemistry between these actors helps to their amazing on-screen relationship.
A stand-out episode from Season Two is the episode React To Contact. This episode deals with a very difficult issues. PTSD after coming back from a war. It focuses on a decorated, discharged war hero who believes someone, his old commander, is out to get him. The episode is once again filled with great performances and handles the delicate issues immaculately. But, as mentioned earlier, I feel this also shows how cold Cal Lightman has become.
So, Season Two? Good, very good still. Getting a little irritating and could be quite long with its 22 episodes, but it’s still a great watch.
Season Two of Lie To Me: 4/5
Finally, onto Season Three. This Season went back to its 13 episode format, a sign maybe that the studio realised 22 episodes were too much and that its declining viewing figures meant that this was likely to be the last Season we would get. Which it turns out it was.
Season Three saw the exclusion of Agent Reynolds, a big loss in my eyes as I really liked the character, but following how Season Two ended he doesn’t return to The Lightman Group.
With this Season however they did try to add an over-arching plot, the plot of Cal trying to write another book and have it published. This plot runs through the first few episodes, comes up once again and then never gets finished. When the Season and Show ends, we do not know if Cal did finish his book.
This season also pushes Cal further into very unrelatable territory. He becomes ruder to his clients and to his workforce. So much so that you start to wonder if this is actually believable and as to why people would put up with him – safe to say he gets punched a lot more in this Season than he did in the past two. But once again, despite the change in character, Tim Roth delivers an outstanding performance. He never falters in any episode throughout the shows three season run and he shows incredible commitment to it.
As well as Cal becoming more rude, I felt that some of the side characters such as Eli and Ria get more annoying. Eli becomes a dick and starts looking for a new job, all the while complaining about everything and Ria just seems to be annoyed or annoying in every scene she’s in. Sadly, I didn’t enjoy Season Three as much as I hope I would.
There was, of course, a stand out episode from this season called The Royal We. This episode follows Cal and Gillian work a molesting case at a teen beauty pageant. Of course, another tender topic, one which is dealt with fairly well and it also shows that the pressure we put on our children might not actually be a good thing.
Another downside to Season Three – and this might just be because the writers didn’t know they weren’t going to get a Season Four – but the ending didn’t feel as final as it should have. It just sort of ended. Not that that’s a bad thing of course, it leaves the opportunity for a Season Four, but I, for one, would have preferred a nice neat closed ending.
Season Three of Lie To Me: 3.5/5
One final note I’d like to add about this show. The opening credits. It. Is. Amazing. The song in it is fantastic and it easily tells you what the show is about. The song has become one of my favourites and these credits get you extremely pumped for the episode, even if you’re not happy where the show is going. By far, one of the best opening credits I have ever watched.
So. Lie To Me. Worth binge watching? I believe so, if you want a nice crime show with great acting and easy viewing. This is the show for you. I highly recommend at least watching Season One and then maybe the rest.
Lie To Me: 4/5 – definitely a box set to buy