I’ve been watching Lie to Me with Tim Roth on Netflix. The great thing about Netflix is when they have full seasons available to “Watch Now”. I get to see the evolution of characters that I like or stories that I like.
Lots of things about this show strike me as interesting. The subject matter first of all. Cal Lightman and the Lightman group are corporate lie detectors or deception experts. The office is basically lot’s of computers and flashy monitors; a glass box called The Cube where they put their suspects for interviews (sometimes the walls are clear, sometimes opaque); and lots of “I can tell you’re lying, ooh contempt in that lip curl, I can see the hate in your eyebrows” dialog. These are the most annoying things about the show. Sometimes, they are a little too obvious with the “She’s lying” He’s telling the truth” commentary. I missed a few episodes because of that.
The cast is diverse, sort of; the two main characters are white. When they go diverse, the women characters are most often the ones ‘diversified’ but always, always, beautiful – tall, dark, thin. They even cast Jennifer Beals as Cal Lightmen’s ex who frequents the show as the mother of his daughter and a just-as-smart-as-he-is lawyer who occassionally brings him cases. And on two occasions they have had black men, in positions of relative power within the investigative community but BOTH of them have been shot as a way of leaving the show. Mekhi Pfiefer was the one I liked the most, I generally just like him. The other was Sean Patrick Thomas. He was okay. I preferred Mekhi. It was Mekhi’s introduction that brought me back to the show.
And then, there’s Tim Roth. Cal Lightman/Tim Roth is the highlight of this show for me. I was not particularly a fan of his although I’ve seen a lot of his movies. Most people mention him as Mr. Orange in Reservoir Dogs. I saw that movie but I don’t remember much about it. I recall him from Four Rooms. I don’t remember what it was about, I just remember him. The show stories were mostly boring. Of course Cal or his team would figure it out. At some point he would offend someone. At some point there was money problems.
In season 2, there were more episodes that put Tim Roth with his daughter Emily (Hayley McFarland) and in those episodes, Tim Roth was fantastic. He shows up as an unconventional, but extremely loving father who actually respects his daughter. The daughter is written as a good kid, smart with out being disrespectful and definitely a daughter who loves her father. The writers did their best dialog between these two, in my opinion. It also humanized Cal Lightman in a way that deepened his likability.
Anyway. The 1st season of the show saw a fairly controlled Tim Roth. He was intense, intelligent, and had a lot of the bad “You’re lying” dialog. often the intensity was in his face. By the second season, Tim Roth had turned Cal Lightman into a twitchy, limbs akimbo, smart-ass and the intensity had moved to all of his body. And all of the obvious “we can tell you’re lying by the way your face looks” had moved to co-stars Brendan Hines as “Loker” and Monica Raymund as “Torres”. Annoying, still. Tim Roth, on the other hand, had moved that kind of spoken dialog out of the audible and into his body as a way of saying the same thing. With a look, ‘he’s lying was obvious” without him having to say it. Cal Lightman was now turned into an intensly hunched over, tip toe walking like a deranged drunk; Speaking two inches from a person’s face; a barely contained middle aged boxer. By the third season, the man had gotten strangly erotic, sensual in his body movements. He would start a case all wild and rangy, and by the end he would bring it together into a waiting to strike cobra, intense, passionate, quiet. LOVED IT.
That is all…for now.