Monday, September 28, 2009

'Lie to Me' improves with help from 'Shield' creator Shawn Ryan - Sepinwall on TV

In today's second column, I interview Shawn Ryan about the improvements to "Lie to Me," which opens its second season with a good episode guest-starring Erika Christensen.

Because I have the day off, no time for a second episode post, so feel free to discuss the premiere here after it airs. Because of Ryan, and because the show has gotten better in the ways I describe in the column, I'll be watching "Lie to Me" more regularly, though it may be a situation like "NCIS" where I'll only write about it on occasion. (Procedurals don't lend themselves as well to weekly dissection.)

10 comments:

marenamoo said...

Alan,

I became a devotee of your site when you started blogging on Life with the wonderful Damian Lewis. I do not watch most of the other shows that you blog about like Dexter, Breaking Bad, Nurse Jackie, Mad Men, Sons of Anarchy etc. I realize that these shows may be of a higher quality or lend themselves more to analysis than broadcast shows with a wider audience but I miss reading your insights on shows that I love.

I am so happy that you might be randomly blogging shows that I do watch like NCIS or Lie To Me. And you do cover Chuck, Dollhouse, Fringe - shows that I also watch. I have two questions - one can you provide a list of shows that you think you may be regularly writing about and two are you open to suggestions? It seems that you might have been taken by surprise by the NCIS response - maybe there is another show that your viewers may recommend (kinda like Mo Ryan with Supernatural which I love and love her covering).

hbs1961 said...

I have not seen the new season, but I read Alan's review, and I was wondering if you really meant to imply that the show was better when the viewer did not have to pay attention? Boston Legal was at times that way, if you could not do anything but watch the show or you lost the logic. But I liked BL, and maybe the more than mindless predictable plot lines were the draw.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Marenamoo, I wasn't at all surprised by the NCIS reaction. It's one of the highest-rated shows on TV, and on the rare occasions in the past when I wrote about it, lots of people responded.

And the shows I'm going to blog about are the shows I've been blogging about, for the most part.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I was wondering if you really meant to imply that the show was better when the viewer did not have to pay attention?

I'm not sure how you took that out of the review, but that's not at all what I meant to imply, nor what I believe about TV in general.

Jrod said...

I had never heard of this show before (I live overseas) but saw Tim Roth on TV and started watching. As an introduction to the series I was seriously underwhelmed; multiple personality disorders are a serious red flag for me that the show is struggling for creative direction and quality writing. I probably won't watch again; Tim Roth is better as a movie character with an arc as opposed to a stock character who drives a plot. Sorry.

lois@loisbernardlcsw.com said...

agree was also seriously underwhelmed. Loved last season though. Very superficial overdone and actually boring DID hook. Where are the writers from last season please come back?

hbs1961 said...

Well, yes, rereading the 9/28 article [not a review- but you write both types] it really is more of a warning that the directors and the powers that be feel that "'Lie to Me' improves with...[not] telling so many stories per episode." Sounds like a desire to dumb down the show so views can multi task and not actually watch and have to pay attention. Further, Ryan seems to indicate that he cannot work with the science as a character drives the show; I guess that is the problem with having to sell prime time hours to pencil pushing executives... the type that tried to cancel AMW before they found out there was actually someone watching.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think you're reading things into what Ryan said that aren't there.

To your specific points:

1)Telling fewer stories per week is not about dumbing it down. Quite the opposite. The more stories you tell, the less well you can tell any of them. Doing episodes with only one story (or, as in the case of the premiere, a main story and then a minor subplot) allows the writers to devote more time to making the plot and character work in those stories much stronger than if they have to try to squeeze three or four equivalent stories into an hour.

2)Ryan's not abandoning the science. He's saying that many stories last season were begun with someone asking, "Here's a neat bit of science; now how can we write a story that incorporates that?" And now they're asking, "Here's a story I want to tell about Cal, or Gillian, or the guest star; what piece of science can we find to illuminate that story?" If you need to bend your story to the science, you're more likely to wind up with an uninteresting story (as many of the early stories were); if you have something interesting you want to do with a character, chances are you'll find a good bit of science to go along with it.

Rhonda said...

I'm sorry to say that I was also disappointed by last night's episode. I love the cast and thought last season was very good but, last night, I found my mind wandering halfway through, which surprised me.

I would like to encourage new viewers like jrod to stick with the show though and give it a chance. It's usually much better than last night's episode was.

Andrew said...

not sure were else to post this but fox quotes your "electrifying" comment in the 'lie to me' ads playing during the games today. so.. congrats?