Thursday, 1 July 2010

Some Like it Roth

It’s very rare for me to abandon a TV show during its run, but Lie to Me has been testing my patience for quite some time now and it’s only a matter of time before the series link comes of it. If it wasn’t for the fact that the other half quite likes the show I’d have probably tuned out quite some time ago.

With the success of House, Fox obviously decided that a socially awkward Doctor was a winning formula for a TV show and thus we have ended up with the likes of Bones (a show which I actually did give up on) and subsequently Lie to Me.

The difference between those two shows and House though is the fact that although House is very much Hugh Laurie’s finest hour, the supporting cast of characters are all well developed and captivating. In the case of Lie to Me, and from what I remember about Bones (with the exception of Booth and Brennan), that is just not the case though.

Tim Roth is brilliant in Lie to Me as Cal Lightman and apart from not wanting to damage my sex life, is the only thing keeping me watching. The supporting cast of Loker, Torres and, surprisingly, even Foster are so under-developed there is just no reason to take interest or care about them.

As for Mekhi Phifer’s Reynolds – why add him as a main cast member when he barely appears in the show!?

Even when the show attempts character development it is soon abandoned in favour of more Scooby Doo villain of the week shenanigans.

Admittedly I’m a little behind at the moment, but in the most recent episode I saw it looked as though Loker was going to get some much needed development.

As a quick aside, his 100% honesty trait was quickly forgotten about rendering him just ‘that other guy’.

His anger and determination to do something after the car bombing that he was injured in looked like it could be an integral part of the plot but was quickly just completely dropped in favour of some vague Cal-Gillian back-story and Angus MacFadyen doing an Oirish accent.

Couple the poorly formed characters (with the exception of Lightman) with the fact that there are no wide reaching arcs to the show and there is literally becoming no reason to tune in anymore.

You could miss weeks worth of episodes and still no miss a thing. Some may argue they prefer self-contained episodes but for me, in this day and age, a show and a season of said show needs to be about an investment from the viewer, both in terms of time and emotionally.

Each week of Lie to Me there’s a liar and a victim and Lightman or one of the Lightman group solves the case, but there’s very little else going on. Lightman may occasionally yell at his daughter and Loker or Torres may go on a date but beyond that there’s no long-running season long arcs or reason to feel that this is must see TV.

All the above is shocking when you consider that the great Shawn Ryan, the man who created The Shield for crying out loud, is currently serving as show runner for season 2. The Shield was the complete antithesis of Lie to Me – brilliant characters, from the main characters down to the supporting players and long-running plots with far reaching repercussions.

You only have to look at what Ryan’s former colleague Kurt Sutter is doing with Sons of Anarchy to see just how brilliant you can make a show through slow burning plots that play out over a season and an ensemble who all get equal time to shine.

Maybe it’s just me; because people are certainly watching Lie to Me – the ratings must be good; because to survive for three seasons on Fox is no small feat (Lie to Me has just been renewed for a third season.)

I can think of very few shows these days that don’t feature season long plots – even White Collar which follows a similar formula to Lie to Me with the villain of the week theme has the ongoing Neil searching for Kate plot.

It’s a shame I’m so down on Lie to Me because the show might be derivative but it has a unique science to play with and Roth really is outstanding in the lead role. But it has to be said that is Bones is a poor man’s House, then Lie to Me is a tramp’s House.


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