Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) is a brilliant psychologist specializing in body language and microexpressions who can detect if you are lying, and get the truth out of you even without you speaking.
He runs the firm The Lightman Group where he primarily works with 2 other experts (Kelli Williams’ Gillian and Brendan Hines’ Loker) and one “natural” (less scientific knowledge, more spot-on guts: Monica Raymund’s Torres) and people hire them for a variety of reasons, ranging from confirming a convict’s guilt to preventing terrorist attacks, from finding kidnapped children to confirming that a crime has really been committed…
Lightman also teaches courses on how to read people like he does, often amazing his students what can be achieved.
Of course Lightman’s skills haven’t always helped him in his life- he’s divorced and his teenage daughter (Hayley McFarland) isn’t always happy that his father can spot her every attempt at a lie. He also applies a no-BS attitude in approaching his clients, often infuriating those who don’t know what he’s capable of.
Still, he is adamant at not pointing out every lie when it comes to his co-workers and their private lives, making it sure that if people around him want to keep some secrets, they can.
Lie to Me is one of the coolest and most addictive procedural crime/dramas that I have seen. I have to say it has too many entertaining moments to be called solely a drama.
While it is a procedural, we’re never limited to any single organization or field. Their clients can be politicians, Supreme Court judge candidates, the army, FBI, ambassadors, cops…They can take you anywhere and deal with all sorts of crimes and criminals.
Lightman’s correct assumption that everybody lies might remind you of House (Hugh Laurie), but Cal just doesn’t assume- He finds out, very fast and solves the case. And while he is as politically incorrect he needs to be while doing his job, he will easily be nice and supportive-once he believes that you’re not guilty. There’s also the refreshing point that he is the boss.
Then there’s Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) of The Mentalist who also reads people. But Cal’s skills are arguably used more successfully because they are also used to help prevent crimes, as well as to make sure whether the right guy is caught or if a brutal ex con is now really worthy of a parole.
The other thing I like more about Cal is that he is not so damaged to the point that he is impossible to identify with. (Oh, he is damaged and flawed alright –I’m just pointing out that the intensity and reflection of it.) He’ll push and challenge you, but it will end up helping/saving a lot of people.
He is an extremely intelligent and experienced guy with a cool skill and entertains the hell out of you with it. And there is a chance that while watching (or in life) you won’t just be guessing the lie/liar/reason(s), you’ll be tempted to guess them by his methods.
Lie to Me has a lot of cool lines, mostly original and varied storylines that never get boring. It is a shame it only got 3 seasons (48 episodes), because with the lack of Red John and constant nagging of bosses and higher powers, it is pure fun.
And Tim Roth is bloody fantastic.
Some of the Coolest Episodes:
-The pilot. It gives you a great taste of what’s to come.
– The Better Half (Season 1, Episode 10): It has intriguing cases alright, but it is strictly recommended for the guest character of Jennifer Beals, who plays Lightman’s ex-wife and her interactions with Lightman. It’s fun to watch a character that can get under his skin, especially when they seem not to be over each other.
–Blinded (Season 1, Episode 12): The villain is one scary psychopath who was sent behind bars because he has raped and blinded several women, and they need his help to catch the copycat. Now Lightman will do pretty shocking stuff that will make his staff doubt him. But is the villain that good, or is Lightman a great actor?
– Honey (Season 2, Episode 4): Honey is a very solid episode because it is a very entertaining start, a case sending Lightman to the last place he’d want to be- at a dating event. But it turns into a drama/thriller very quickly where a supposed killer takes Lightman hostage and expects them to find the real killer. Oh, and the last scene is downright adorable.
– Grievous Bodily Harm (Season 2, Episode 5): An old friend of Lightman’s shows up, in deep trouble. Helping him out puts his own life in danger, and annoys the others because they are left out. But we end up finding a bit more about Lightman, as well as admiring his planning skills.
Some Favorite Lines:
(Before Gillian leaves his office to meet a politician):
Cal: Charge him by the lie, we can retire tomorrow.
The politician: So Dr. Lightman just assumes you are a liar if you’re a politician.
Gillian: He assumes you’re lying if you are a homosapien.
Do No Harm (Season 1, Episode 6)
Cal: I need to ask you a question. Did you kill your daughter? Did you? Did you kill her?..(repeats until he gets a no and believes them). OK. I think we can help you.
Life is Priceless (Season 1, Episode 9)
Contractor: My men need engineers and rescue workers. Not a couple of freak show shrinks pointing fingers.
Lightman: She’s the shrink, I’m the freak show. I’m sorry, we normally wear labels.
Also on Tim Roth:
Also on Kelli Williams