Spoilers for last night's "Lie to Me" (plus some random thoughts on Jason Gedrick) coming up just as soon as I learn how to pronounce "Baltimore" the way the natives do...
"Lie to Me" initially seemed like it was going to be just another crime procedural in a primetime landscape dotted with them. But Sam Baum argued at the start that the show would be a lot more versatile than that, and Shawn Ryan has helped him back up that statement this year. Because there are questions about truth and lies in every walk of life, because Cal Lightman's services are obviously much in demand, and because the government likes what he does, there is really no professional setting - or, in this case, geographic setting - the show can't plausibly visit. There will always be some kind of mystery at the center of things, but the mystery can range from a murder, to who caused a Black Friday riot, to the location of two captured Marines in Afghanistan.
This story was obviously familiar territory for Ryan and the people he brought over from "The Unit," and I liked that we spent very little time on the Jason Gedrick(*) character distrusting Lightman's methods. It's way too easy to try to set up your guy as a genius by putting him together with strawman characters who loudly question his genius and can therefore be easily proven wrong. Gedrick was right to be at least a little suspicious, and he quickly got on board as much as he could under these harrowing circumstances.
(*) Gedrick takes a lot of heat as one of the pre-eminent showkillers of our age (look at his resume and you'll see why), but I've always had a soft spot for the guy. Not only did he star in one of my favorite Brilliant But Canceled shows ever, "EZ Streets," but I spent way, way too many hours in my youth watching scenes like this one from "Iron Eagle" on HBO. (Look closely and you'll spot a young Melora Hardin - Jan from "The Office" - as Gedrick's worried girlfriend.) One of the best moments of my early career was at a CBS press tour event in 1997. Gedrick was there for "EZ Streets" (which wasn't quite dead yet), and Lou Gossett Jr. was there for some TV-movie. I was talking with Gossett and asked if he realized Gedrick was in the building; Gossett's eyes got really wide with delight and he ordered me to lead him to the "EZ Streets" people, where he gave his old "Iron Eagle" co-star the bear hug to end all bear hugs. Later, Gedrick talked to me for a while about how Gossett more or less taught him how to act, because he was pretty terrible at the time (as you can see in the clip). It made all those hours wasted on the movie feel really, really worth it.
The ticking clock intensity of the assignment brought out the best in Tim Roth. And I love the way the writing staff has managed to take a character who should, because of his talents, be the world's biggest cynic, but instead remains oddly, endearingly hopeful about other people's capacity to be true to both themselves and the world at large. The relationship with his daughter helps, and I was relieved that Emily getting to witness the video feed neither hindered nor helped the case; it was just another complication between father and daughter.
We have one more episode next week, and then there will be four left over from this initial order of 13. Fox didn't order more in the spring because they have a lot of mid-season inventory ("24," "Human Target," "Past Life"); at this point, they might still be able to order more episodes for this season, but the more likely scenarios seem to be either renewing the show for next fall (and dealing with the four leftovers somewhere down the road) or not renewing it at all.
I'll be very disappointed if the latter happens. Not that it was ever a bad show, but "Lie to Me" has been much improved this year, and it deserves a longer chance to stick around.
What did everybody else think?