DVD Review: Second Season of FOX’s Inconsistent ‘Lie to Me’ With Tim Roth

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CHICAGOFOX’s “Lie to Me,” the second season of which was just released on DVD, has fluctuated wildly in quality since the day it hit the air, a fact that was underlined when the great Shawn Ryan (“The Shield”) came on-board and seemed to find the program’s personality, only to leave it and watch it drift again. Just when it seemed like “Lie to Me” would develop into must-see viewing, it would falter again and the incredibly-lackluster season two release doesn’t help.

HollywoodChicago.com DVD Rating: 2.5/5.0
DVD Rating: 2.5/5.0

It’s worth noting that the peak of “Lie to Me” is buried within this DVD set. The show became a smash in the summer of 2010, ending the season as one of the most-watched programs in several key demographics. It was forced to come back early when FOX canceled “Lone Star” and has shown signs of the same identity crisis that often plagued the program in season one and parts of season two. The show just can’t find a consistent rhythm, partially because it feels like Tim Roth’s Cal Lightman has never developed the personality of his night-mate Dr. Gregory House and the rest of the cast, particularly Kelli Williams, is just wasted.

Lie to Me: Season Two was released on DVD on November 9th, 2010
Lie to Me: Season Two was released on DVD on November 9th, 2010
Photo credit: Fox

The program is based on the real scientific work of Dr. Paul Ekman, reimagined as Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth), the head of The Lightman Group, a small collection of truth experts who assist government agencies, police detectives, federal law enforcement, and more in the world of deception. The show is often a vehicle for Roth to strut his stuff, often opposite some pretty high-powerd guest stars, although I suppose it’s saying something that several of the more well-received episodes in this set were so because of love for other programs. “Veronica Mars” fans were no doubt happy to see Jason Dohring steal scenes in 2.11 (“Beat the Devil”) and “The Shield” mini-reunion made headlines in episode 2.19 (“Pied Piper”).

There are still moments when “Lie to Me” truly works. When Roth calms the tics of his character and works off the mentally-manipulative abilities of his doctor, he feels more genuine and more interesting. The show works when it’s about the little things — the subtle facial cues or vocal patterns that separate the truth from the lie — not shotguns, handcuffs, and undercover stings.

What might be the most disappointing element of the second season of “Lie to Me” could be the DVD set itself. Why isn’t one of the best-looking shows on television available in HD? The first season was. And to make matters worse the standard definition presentation is horrendous. Go to Hulu. It looks better. When we’ve reached a point where digitally-transferred picture looks better than standard DVD, you can safely call a release a failure. And it’s made worse by truly dull and pointless special features, particularly a series of “blogs” by Dr. Ekman, in which he comments on techniques used in episodes in text. No one wants to read special features. With better extras and an HD set, it might be easier to overlook the show’s flaws and help this marginal program over the hump with a recommendation. Sadly, FOX went the other direction.

Special Features:
o Extended & Deleted Scenes
o Dr. Ekman’s Blogs
o Gag Reel
o Dr. Ekman/Dr. Lightman - Lie Detection Tutorial
o Eli Loker: And Honest Man

‘Lie To Me: Season Two,’ stars Tim Roth, Kelli Williams, Brendan Hines, Monica Raymund, and Hayley McFarland. The show was created by Samuel Baum. The six-disc set was released on November 9th, 2010. It is not rated and runs 1,046 minutes.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

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