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Lie To Me - "In The Red" (Review)

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Written by : published Sunday 27th February 2011

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One of the things I used to love about Lie To Me was the character of Dr. Cal Lightman: the pompous, obnoxious Brit with the ability to deduce one’s state of mind under any circumstances simply by reading their facial expressions and body language. Played to the hilt by actor Tim Roth, Dr. Lightman went through the first two seasons of the Fox show insulting everyone around him, all the while retaining a certain insufferable charm about him.

Note, however, that I said “used to love.”

In the first two seasons, the producers always seemed to keep Lightman in check; making sure that the character (or the actor portraying him, for that matter) never went too terribly over the top and broke the cycle of detestable admiration the show’s viewers were tuning in every week to marvel at. With Season Three, though, Mr. Roth himself stepped in as executive producer of the series -- much like his fellow network rival, Hugh Laurie -- did in the higher-rated House M.D..

Now, I’m not saying it’s Roth’s fault directly, here, but as soon as he gained a little more control in the production of the show, Lie To Me’s main protagonist that we love to hate simply dropped our ability to love him whatsoever. In Season Three’s opener -- “In The Red” -- Dr. Lightman is thoroughly unlikable in any way, shape or form. His adolescent behavior has regressed to that of a toddler. He argues with just about everyone, regardless of their relevance to the episode’s plot. And, worst of all, most of the characters that had previously acted as a third-party conscious -- even when he made the most rash of decisions -- are either nowhere to be seen or are just completely indifferent for a change.

Essentially, Lightman’s even more of a jerk than ever; and nobody gives a rat’s ass about it.

As the title would suggest, “In The Red” opens with Cal’s organization, The Lightman Group, in dire straits financially. Lightman himself is being threatened by a publishing company since he has so far neglected to work on a book that he received a handsome fee upfront for. His longtime FBI cohort, Agent Ben Reynolds -- who was left hanging by a thread in the hospital at the finale of Season Two after receiving a critical gunshot wound -- has been written out of the equation altogether, and is summed up a in a quick (positive) line of dialogue between Lightman and his new love interest, police detective Sharon Wallowski (Monique Gabriela Curnen).

So, anyway, whilst visiting the bank one day (presumably to annoy everyone there), Lightman observes a man scoping the place out. He alerts the man (Shawn Doyle) that is aware of his intentions to hold the establishment up -- and even goes so far as to convince the poor lad to let him in on the job! Of course, robbery is not Cal’s motive here: instead he wants to figure out what the man is really up to, and alerts both the bank manager and his detective pal about the whole situation.

Meanwhile, the show’s regular supporting characters (Kelli Williams as Dr. Gillian Foster, Brendan Hines as Eli Loker, and Monica Raymund as Ria Torres) are put on the backburner and given very little to do. Yet, the writers still bring in two new supporting (albeit temporary) cast members -- Shoshannah Stern and Fahim Anwar -- just to rub it in, I guess -- while the character of Emily Lightman (Cal’s daughter, as played by Hayley McFarland) is not in this episode at all.

All in all, “In The Red” is a very weak episode. And, when you couple that with the fact that the third season of Lie To Me may very well be the last (as of this writing, Fox execs have still not made it clear as to whether they’re going to cancel the series or not, after only ordering a half-season for Season Three), it’s a bit saddening.

Fortunately though, the formula doesn’t fizzle away entirely here, and some of the later episodes are a lot better than this one. And you can trust me there, kids. After all, would I lie to you?

About the author Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo

Luigi Bastardo is the disgruntled alter-ego of Adam Becvar, a thirtysomething lad from Northern California who has watched so many weird movies since the tender age of 3 that a conventional life is out of the question. You can stalk and annoy Luigi via blogcritics and Insomniac Entertainment and those trendy social sites, Twitter and Facebook.

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