Tuned In

Happy Lost Day! Sizing Up The Competition

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OK, this is cheating on Lost Day a bit, but as a service I should reprint my earlier review of what you won’t be watching if you’re watching Lost: the debut of Fox’s Lie to Me

…Just as Zeitgeisty but less uplifting is Fox’s Lie to Me (Wednesdays, 9 p.m. E.T.), which may be the most cynical TV drama ever made. That’s not an insult; it’s a tribute to how well the show executes its purpose. It follows Cal Lightman, an expert on “microexpressions” who reads blinks and grimaces to catch deceptions and solve crimes. Lightman is played pugnaciously by Tim Roth, who expands on the successful Fox philosophy, embodied by Simon Cowell and Gordon Ramsay, that Americans long to be judged by crabby Brits.

Lie to Me’s premise is timely and depressing: everybody lies. (The pilot face-analyzes Dick Cheney, Eliot Spitzer and various notorious celebs to drive home the point; expect a Bernard Madoff reference any episode now.) “The average person tells three lies in 10 minutes of conversation,” Lightman crisply informs us, and while Lie to Me balances him with a partner (Kelli Williams) so earnest and sweet that she eats pudding for breakfast, his jaded worldview is borne out. The characters lie for reasons good, evil and poignant; they lie in guilt and in innocence–but in the end, they lie and they lie. Lie to Me’s pilot is brisk anthropological fun. But you may find yourself staring at your loved ones’ faces a little too closely afterward.