Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Lie to Me “Grievous Bodily Harm” Too Predictable

Photo from Fox

Lie To Me (Fox) is one of those shows I watch that I am not quite sure why I watch it. After seeing last night’s episode “Grievous Bodily Harm” I decided to look in to the reasons why I keep watching this show despite the fact that something is just off about it.

In “Grievous Bodily Harm”, the show opens with Cal being shot, and then we quickly move back about a day earlier in time. An old fried of Dr. Cal Lightman’s (Tim Roth) comes for a visit and needs Cal’s human lie detector abilities in order to help him get out from under a gambling debt. It seems that Terry (Lennie James) got in over his head with a gambling debt and needs Cal to help him win it back in a poker game. But this leads to Cal being forced into helping Terry’s gambling associate to verifying the quality of counterfeit money. It was a little too obvious that when Cal got shot at the beginning of the show that it was either some kind of ruse or that he would survive. There was really no suspense there – a show doesn’t kill off his lead character especially when they still have several more episodes to go in the season. It was also obvious that once Cal got involved with Terry that it wouldn’t end with the poker game. Either the show is too predictable or I am also an expert in reading a person’s body language and behavior, but it was obvious that the security guy was some sort of plant for the Feds, especially when it seemed that Cal’s presence at the illegal poker game was well known to Agent Ben Reynolds (Mekhi Phifer).

While this is going on, the rest of Cal’s team works on a video threat received by a school that threatens a homicide. Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams) misreads the body signals of one of the students involved and thinks that the student is the one guilty of the homicidal threats, instead, the girl was talking suicide, and she attempts suicide in the Lightman Group restroom. While Torres (Monica Raymond) and Locker (Brendan Hines) continue to work the case with Foster, they collectively figure out that it was one of the instructors who seemed to be fueling the conflict between students and fostering the student’s negative feelings to the girl who had later attempted suicide. In my opinion, it was obvious the minute the teacher became involved in observing the inquiry that he was someone the one who initiated the whole mess. I think I am getting too good at reading body language.

Besides it being almost to easy to figure out the outcome of each story arc, I realized that Tim Roth bounces and sways a lot when he walks and it seems too comical. I am not sure if that is how Roth walks or if that is how Cal Lightman walks, but either way, it is somewhat distracting, as his body movements seem to monopolize the whole scene when he is on screen. He also seems to quickly move to get into people’s spaces, which I think is probably a method that Lightman uses to get people off guard so he can read them better. Another problem is Roth’s accent when speaking, which at times makes it hard to understand what he is saying. I think as I watch more of the show I become more accustomed to it, but in last night’s episode with Cal’s accent and Terry’s accent, I was having a spot of trouble understanding them.

The other issue is the chemistry with the cast. There is something just not right and I can’t quite figure out what – or who – it is. Tim Roth seems fine as Lightman, but the rest of the cast seems flat. In the first season of “Lie to Me” I was initially intrigued by Dr. Foster, but after watching the series for a while, she seems to be rather one dimensional and I don’t think the writers have done as good of a job in developing her character as they have with Lightman. Likewise Loker and Torres are becoming too repetitive in their behaviors and there doesn’t seem to be anything compelling going on with either of them. Making matters worse, while the main characters still remain underdeveloped, they’ve added the new character of Agent Reynolds who seems to be the stereotypical FBI agent who mistrusts everyone and just gets in everyone’s way.

I still watch “Lie to Me” because I have hopes that someday everything will begin to click, but I won’t wait forever. Right now the show is fortunate to run on Monday night right after “House”, but if the show moves to another day and time without the strong lead in, I am not sure if the show has enough going for it in order to survive for very long. I am afraid that without more character development, and without some more compelling cases for the Lightman Group, this may be the series last season. And that’s no lie.

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