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Featured TV on DVD Review: Lie To Me: Season Two

December 11th, 2010

Lie To Me: Season Two - Buy from Amazon

Lie To Me is a police procedural show, one of many such shows on the air. Because of the tight competition, it is hard for any one show to stand out, so it should come as no surprise that this one is on the bubble when it comes to cancellation / renewal. Since the DVD is released by Fox, the same studio that airs the show, its home market sales might help tip the balance. The question is, it is worth picking up?

The Show

The show focuses on the Lightman Group, run by Dr. Cal Lightman, who is an expert at reading people's emotional states. He can determine if someone is lying or not, by using scientific principles of microexpressions, language cues, etc. Working with him as a partner is Dr Gillian Foster, while two employees are also part of the main cast, Eli Loker and Ria Torres. The former is academically trained, while the latter is what Cal refers to as a natural, part of the less than 1% of people who can read others without formal training. They have opposite styles, which causes conflict, while they both are vying for attention from Cal. Because the company does so much work for the government, in areas like counter terrorism, law enforcement, national security, etc., there is an FBI agent assigned to them, Ben Reynolds.

We also see a bit of Cal Lightman's family life, including his wife Zoe Landau, who appears in a few episodes throughout the season, while his teenage daughter, Emily is a regular.

The show is set in Washington, D.C. and they deal with a lot of political stories, including terrorism, elections, etc. and this helps differentiated the show for its competitors. The main hook is the use of psychological science to read people; unfortunately, this show has a tendency to use this the same way Numb3rs used math or ST:TNG used quantum fluctuations. In other words, it's treated like magic at times.

That's not to say there are not a lot of very strong episodes this season, including Tractor Man, which features a guest appearance by Felicia Day and it is the only episode I've seen prior to the screener landing on my desk. In Beat the Devil Cal Lightman meets someone he can't read, a student of his former teacher, and he's convinced he's a serial killer. Others think he's just upset he was shown up in front of his former mentor's class. The Whole Truth begins an arc with Melissa George, who is introduced as the defendant in a high profile murder trial. In Pied Piper, Dr. Lightman attends the execution of the first person who was sentenced to death, in part based on his testimony. However when the person claims he didn't murder the boy he was convicted of murdering, Dr. Lightman believes him. Now when a copycat crime happens, he must find the truth.

Overall, the vast majority of the episodes are strong, but I'm not 100% convinced the show has done enough to stand out in a crowded field.

The Extras

Extras on the six-disc set include deleted / extended scenes for most episodes, and something called Dr. Ekman's Blogs, which are text-based looks at some of the specific tells featured in each episode. Over on disc six, we find some outtakes, which are the usual stuff. The biggest featurette is on Dr. Paul Ekman, a.k.a., the real real Dr. Cal Lightman. It runs 23 minutes and includes a lot of interview clips, plus Dr. Paul Ekman analyzing some of these clips. Finally, there is a five-minute featurette on "Radical Honesty", which is a philosophy the character of Eli Locker follows.

The Verdict

On the one hand, Lie To Me is a very good show, but on the other hand, so are many other police procedural shows. Also, the Season Two DVD has very little in the way of extras. Call it a solid rental for fans of the genre, while fans of the show who want it to continue beyond season three might want to pick it up ASAP, because it might help convince the network to renew it.

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