Since my library of television shows weren’t ready to arrive on DVD, and I ran through all five available seasons of The Mentalist in record time, I had to go hunting for a “fill-in.”
Rudimentary research and a trip to the video store later, I walked out with two discs of Fox’s Lie to Me and the hope that if nothing else, it’d be interesting.
Lie to Me, Seasons One – Three (2009 – 2011) TV Show Review
As the best deception specialist there is, Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) is something of a human lie detector. From his book sales (inspired by his government work), he now owns his own company, The Lightman Group. A group that has assembled the best in the field.
Their current case involves a murdered high school teacher. While interviewing the students – along with his partner, therapist Dr. Gillian Foster (Kellie Williams), Cal uncovers more than meets the eye hides in this case, including a student who’s home schooled by strict parents.
Rounding out the Lightman Group is the hot-headed Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) whose work clashes with Cal’s personality. Into this comes TSA screener Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) whom Cal and Gillian vetted after reading her near perfect deception diagnostic testing score. Ria is what the deception world would call a “natural,” she has no formal training, but her skill at detecting deception is eerie. With office politics, and many cases from a variety of sources, these are the cases of the Lightman Group.
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Lie to Me is the kind of show that’s probably going to smack you across the face a time or two, and enjoy doing so. It’s not because there’s poignant truths to glean (although there is some of these), more because it’ll make you rethink what we, as, layman, think of as dishonest indicators. Plus, there is the fact that its protagonist can sometimes morph into an antagonist, and his “idea” of truth is enough to stun anyone.
Season one is more diverse with cases without the consumption of crazy life-or-death situations. But the second season tends to lean more into the “dangerous” excitement (kidnapping and weapons). What this does is morph into more of an adrenaline rush with its thirst for seeking to follow in the footsteps of the crime drama scene.
This leading character is a guy who doesn’t care what others threaten his own person with or say about him. However, if you threaten his people or family, then you’d best watch out! Only Cal can talk trash to or about his employees (I’ll say, I adore Cal and Gillian’s friendship); this certainly makes an interesting persona. Still the writers do toy with various impersonations of his character. He starts out annoying in a tolerable manner before they amplify that in season two. The latter portion of season three finally evens it all out. (Though the series end does have an open-end conclusion.)
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Annoying habits aside, part of the fun is watching Cal at his work, both in the environment and his process. The friendship he has with Gillian is beautiful and leaves audiences happy without the complication of a romance; the final season mucks this up, only to be cut short before exploring the possibilities.
If nothing else, I’m willing to bet the show will make you think about things you never have before. Certainly something meant to entertain has a creative license. But given that this is loosely based on a real group of professionals, I’m operating on the assumption there’s a tandem amount of research. Given this, it’s cool to think this is a profession that working professionals actually specialize in. Because of that, one thing stands out; Lie to Me is likely to make you look at the reactions of people very differently. And that’s the truth.
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*Because I don’t have the first season DVD to refer to and cannot find a straight answer online, the synopsis I use may not be the first episode. Despite this, hopefully it introduces all the main players without too much confusion.
Content: there are a few bedroom scenes [one involves exes reuniting, others are either related to a case or later, one of the main
characters begins dating] throughout the entire 3 season run, mostly the sexual content involved is mainly innuendo [we learn one of the characters “experimented”], though there are some awkward conversations between Cal and his daughter – she once admits she’s already had sex with a boyfriend and that she and her current boyfriend haven’t. There is some profanity and some violence. Hostage situations, characters are shot, bombings injure people, one case involves a rapist. A character’s ex is a drug addict. Lie to Me, seasons one – three is TV14.