Review by Leonard Norwitz
Theatrical: Fox Television
Blu-ray: 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Size: 50 GB
Case: Standard Blu-ray Case w/ flippage
Release date: August 25, 2009
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Video codec: AVC @ 21 Mbps
English DTS HD-Master Audio 5.1
English SDH, Spanish and French
• The Truth About Lies – in HD (26:06)
• Deleted Scenes – in HD (19:19)
Ostensibly a show about lying, Lie To Me investigates the
moral ambiguities about lying and truth telling, as in: it
may not always be the right thing to do to tell the truth
or, at least, not all of it or all the time. The setting is
a special investigating team that is sent hither and yon to
sort out fact from fiction using the latest scientific tools
to determine if a witness or suspect is telling the truth.
Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) both interviews subjects and
studies their reactions and expressions to questions on
video tapes and compares them to other similar expressions –
something like a bank of DNA, though not nearly as accurate,
leaving lots of room for experienced interpretation.
In the first season of CSI, Gil Grissom, as played by
William Peterson, enjoys teaching his underlings, and
thereby: us, about how to do crime scene investigation: what
to look for and how the science works. With the help of
graphic computer graphics, the series became an instant
success and spawned other CSI series based in New York and
Miami. The fundamental creative
challenge for Lie To Me is how to make the science
compelling. The language: "See how he shrugs his shoulders
here or flares his nostrils there . . ." doesn't have much
staying power, and there is very little in the way of CG
effects that seem obvious to explain this or that piece of
investigation. This leaves character, storyline and script
to separate this series from any number of criminal
First off, there’s Tim Roth as Dr. Lightman who, in a manner
much in the mould of Gregory House, treads the dual roles of
team player and know-it-all. Lightman is a bit less abrasive
than House, and he lies to colleagues as well as witnesses
when it suits him, thus throwing his peers off their ethical
balance should they be inclined to the truth at all costs.
Enter: Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) as a natural body
language reader who sometimes misses the big picture, so
devoted is she to the truth. Lightman’s other in-house
colleagues are Dr. Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams), smart
and a tad skeptical, and Eli Loker (Brendan Hines), who
keeps his female colleagues off balance by confusing
truthfulness with frankness.
The stories, like so many other shows of this general type,
are of the ripped from the headlines variety, and writers
keep things fresh with mixed results. The scripts have at
least two or three well turned phrases per episode and,
along the way, score a number of insightful observations
about the usefulness of lie detector tests, including
Lightman's. A lie detector, we are told
repeatedly, might be able to tell when someone is lying, but
it can't tell what the subject is lying about – It's a
truism that resonates with our daily assumptions about other
people. What is needed, as in all psychometric tests, is
interpretation – and therein lies the possibility of drama.
It's a subtle business, and the show tends to pander too
often to easy smirks – as when Lightman compares the
expression of the subject at hand with an infamous, often
embarrassing photo of a celebrity.
The first number indicates a relative level of excellence
compared to other Blu-ray video discs on a ten-point scale.
The second number places this image along the full range of
DVD and Blu-ray discs.
Considering that Lie To Me is a happening kind of show, I
was surprised to see such a lackluster image on Blu-ray:
It’s flat, thin, grainy, almost devoid of black, and not big
on detail. I can understand if the televised original would
have chosen a low-key pictorial design that de-emphasizes
snappy, clear-cut images for obvious reasons. Still, the
result on Blu-ray, which also reveals some noise (at times
hard to tell form the grain), and edge enhancement, does not
draw me in. In any case, I’ve seen DVDs at least as good.
Audio & Music:
The audio fares much better. Of course, there’s not a great
deal of opportunity for it to strut its stuff, though there
are nicely some nicely turned, dynamic and solid bass
effects in “Life is Priceless,” an episode that centers
around rescue operations at a collapsed construction site.
Dialogue is always intelligible and right where you want it.
Music is usually front-directed, but opens up the soundstage
when the drama calls for more support.
Ordinarily I find menus with hidden agenda frustrating. In
the absence of much in the way of Special Features, the only
thing that's hidden are the episode titles, and all are
revealed in just two clicks. At least everything is easy to
read and self-navigating.
We're getting mighty close to the bare bones here, with only
two offerings: The first is a making-of featurette that all
too briefly slides through the original scientific research
by Dr. Paul Eckman, whose work is the inspiration for Tim
Roth's character, and moves through matter of the
development of the series. The second are a handful of
deleted scenes, some of which are simply extensions of
I wasn't especially bowled over by this Blu-ray set at any
level. All the same, Roth is a kick, and the fundamental
questions raised throughout about "truth" and "lies" are
intriguing. I just wasn't convinced that a full length
series is the most persuasive or entertaining packaging of
the issues. At this writing Amazon is offering Lie To Me
Season One at a substantial discount of 45%.
September 3rd, 2009