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TV Series Review

One of the following statements is false.
A) When I can, I spend my weekends hiking.
B) I'm scared of large fish.
C) I've seen every Matlock episode made.

OK, so what do you think? Can't figure it out? Well, don't blame yourself. Unless you're my mother (Hi, Mom!), you probably don't know that much about me. And it's hard to pick up dishonesty in the written word. For all you know, I hit the keys a little harder when I lie or write a little slower. But the words look the same.

Now, if I gave you the same spiel while we shared coffee, you'd figure out my lie before I took my second sip. Because I'm actually a terrible liar.

In the ethos of Fox's crime drama Lie to Me, we're all terrible liars. We reveal our falsehoods with every shimmy of our eyebrows, every twitch of our mouths. These little tics, called micro-expressions, are involuntary—dead giveaways to someone like Dr. Cal Lightman.

Tim Roth's Lightman is one more of television's brilliant-yet-socially-inept mystery solvers. He may be abrasive and acerbic, but he's never, ever wrong. The guy heads a consulting firm called The Lightman Group—an organization staffed top to bottom with lie-detecting savants: Dr. Gillian Foster helps smooth out some of Lightman's rough edges, while Ria Torres and Eli Loker serve as youngish understudies. Each episode launches this fib-hunting foursome into our land of lies—and judging from Lightman's posh offices, they don't get paid by the hour.

Cases are sometimes ripped right from today's headlines and are almost always self-contained, making it seem a bit like a TV network security blanket: You know what you're going to get when you watch it. Which is not to say Lie to Me is simple or simplistic. Indeed, the program is sometimes thought-provoking and often aspires to complexity. The good guys don't always do good things, and the bad guys aren't altogether bad.

These messy morality tales, at their best, force viewers to re-evaluate their sense of fair play. And in doing so, they offer this moral message: Lying (even done with good intentions) will lead to trouble. If the Bible says "Thou shalt not lie" (and it does), this show adds, "And if thou dost, The Lightman Group shall catch thee."

But here's where the show starts rubbing a bit: To get at the truth, Lightman and his team often lie like the dickens—to their subjects (to crack a case) and to each other (you'd think they'd be able to catch those). It has other problems, too—most of which are largely dependent on each story's subject. In one episode, viewers might be subjected to violent scenes of battle. In another, they might see bikini-clad dancers writhe around stripper poles.

So is Lightman and Co. all about "the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth"? Is a TV show ever?

Regarding my quiz … I don't care for light gray suits.

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Episode Reviews

LietoMe: 6282010



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Tim Roth as Dr. Cal Lightman; Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster; Brendan Hines as Eli Loker; Monica Raymund as Ria Torres






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Paul Asay

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