(So I’m joining up to help fill in the blog here on occasion, and this is a cross-post with my own small blog adventure: Wishray Fountain. *shameless plug*)
I’ve been watching this show, Lie to Me*, since it began, and I’ve got to say some things about it. These things are more than just the usual: you should be watching this, it’s good television, and the drama is engaging. Instead I want to talk about magic and chemistry.
By all rights this is a show that should flop. A lot of its scriptwriting is rather humdrum, some of the characters are cardboard cutouts, and it on occasion breaks down into a formulaic pile of dog poo. However, much like House, it goes beyond all that and you just end up liking it in the end.
Now, why is that? It is the magic of the actors doing their job amazingly. Tim Roth has been great in every role I’ve seen him in (a certain crazy monkey comes to mind!). He makes Cal Lightman a very real and quirky + interesting character. You’ve got Kelli Williams who makes Gillian Foster sparkle, and the chemisty between the two on screen is compelling.
Right, and here is where it all falls apart. The rest of the cast seems capable enough, but they just don’t come together in any interesting and engaging way. Every time they are on the screen (with one exception) I’m like, GET OFF THE SCREEN AND GIVE ME MORE OF WHAT WORKS DUMMIES. The exception is Emily Lightman (Hayley McFarland) who exists solely to play off Cal and Gillian anyway, so that works too.
Now I could go step-by-step and explain what works and what doesn’t but I’m not going to spend the time or energy to do so. Instead I’m going to finish by talking about what really matters: the content of the show that drives the drama. The show is a drama, about the character and when it focuses on that its really shines. When it addresses the science of the “microexpression” and lie detection more directly it’s not as good, but it’s thought-provoking and meaty (full of substance – Guy). It’s one of the more mentally engaging shows I’ve seen in recent years. They just have to make the science more subtle, tied closer to the drama, and break it out of the formulaic approach. The show does so all this at times, but never maintains it.
It’s hard to find good sci-fi on TV, and I’d say this qualifies. Now if it could just get a coat of polish to cover the imperfections, we’d have a real winner and possibly a runaway hit. Here is hoping for a tighter, cleaner, more awesome Lie to Me* around the corner – and I’ll keep watching waiting for it.