Lie to Me Ain't What It Used to Be

Things aren't looking good for Lie to Me. Last night, FOX burned off two episodes of the show, one of which contained a lot of Christmas trees and was probably intended for a December air date. It may seem a little harsh—but the show just isn’t as good as it used to be.

“Funhouse,” the first of the two new episodes, was basically a re-imagining of last season's “Pied Piper”: Lightman (Tim Roth) was again admitted to a mental hospital while working on a case, and ended up confronting some of his own demons in the process. This time, the show took things one step further, and Lightman experienced hallucinations of his dead mother and father after eating a medicine-laced muffin.

I understand that Lie to Me's writers were probably looking for a way to revisit the topic of Lightman’s late mother and father. It isn't really Lie to Me's style to do a flashback episode—the idea of Roth donning a Dexter-like wig to play a young Lightman just doesn’t seem right. But did they really have to send Lightman to a mental hospital and feed him a drugged breakfast pastry in order to work his parents into the storyline? The episode did feature other, legitimately creative elements—including low camera angles and the use of a fish-eye lens to give everything a slow, quiet feel—but they were overshadowed by the all-too-familiar.

“Funhouse” wasn’t a bad episode, but it wasn't exactly inspired. It's clear the writers are running out of ideas, and I'm starting to think it's a real shame that the Lightman Group severed its ties with the FBI. That connection actually made the Lightman Group more important, more high-profile—and more interesting to watch.

“Rebound,” the second episode of the night, was also fine-but-not-great. The underwhelming Detective Wallowski (Monique Curnen) returned to flirt with Lightman and help with the latest case, which involved a background check on political lobbyist George Walker (Sam Page, the man who won’t stop working). The Lightman Group’s intern/assistant Sarah (Shoshannah Stern) also returned for a bright appearance. And Zoe came up in conversation, though she didn’t appear on screen—Emily went to visit her in Chicago. Everything else was business-as-usual: Lightman and Foster (Kelli Williams) exchanged some URST-y banter, the celebrity guest-star was guilty, and this once-dynamic show continued its demise into predictability.

Here's an idea: Bring Emily (Hayley McFarland) to the office. I love it when she outsmarts her dad, and in the last two episodes, she’s been exhibiting clear signs of “reading” ability. She’s picked up skills from both of her parents, she’s insanely mature for her age, and she’s got a great rapport with the rest of Lightman’s co-workers. I think she’s ready for it.

What did you think of last night’s Lie to Me double feature?


Follow TV.com writer Stefanie Lee on Twitter: @StefAtTVDotCom

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Jan 14, 2011
While I agree that things have changed, and not necessarily for the better, this is still a pretty good series. I miss having Mekhi Phifer around, there could definitely be better story ideas surrounding ALL the supporting cast and maybe Lightman could tone it down a bit I still enjoy watching, both these episodes included. I really think the fate of LIE TO ME lies in just how good THE CHICAGO CODE ratings are in comparison. One of them won't make it to next season.
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Jan 14, 2011
the problem with the show is that it keeps churning out the same episode over and over again.
what the show needs is a change that will not just keep the viewers watching but gives it some depth and drama. Why have they not use the psychopath idea to develop a nemesis? nobody likes a herostory if there is no villain.

or it could go a darker path where Dr Lightman goes dark... it would totally change the show. now his crew would have to turn against him...

no idea what they are planing for the show but if they dont improve it somehow Im out...
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Jan 14, 2011
I don't care what you think, but I loved both episodes.
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Jan 14, 2011
I generally like the show or the premise of the show and the cases involved. I like the LIghtman character in appropriate doses. The thing is, likely because Tim Roth is one of the show's executive producers the show has become a real vanity project. All of the story lines now revolve almost completely around him. He struts around - he insults and sidelines Gillian who is nothing now but a foil for his rudeness (I unfortunately agree with the person who posted that his behavior is now borderline sexual harassment). Then we are to believe that just about any attractive woman who comes across Lightman wants him and that he can and does have them just like that. Again, I'm actually not a hated, but I enjoyed the Lightman and Torres stories, I enjoyed the Gillian insights, stories and cases, I liked the FBI agent, I liked Jennifer Beals as Zoe. All of these other characters and subplots added to the interest and enjoyment of the show. Now we have pretty much only Lightman and anyone else who tries to "interfere" gets put down.
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Jan 13, 2011
Please dont say that. I love Lie to Me no matter what. I hope it stays for awhile! (:
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Jan 13, 2011
I think the episodes were great!!!! Tim Roth is amazing and the series continues to be really good!!!
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Jan 13, 2011
What are you talking about,maybe they should bring Jack Bauer in.
Just compare acting of Tim Roth and that Mentalist guy and result is Tim Roth is a bloody genius,oy,mate
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Jan 13, 2011
As much as I agree with this article, you have to understand that people are going to come in with pitchforks seeing CBS owns this site. Anyway, I agree that dropping the FBI was a big mistake. They also don't use Torres and Loker which is painful. If they get another season -- which I hate to admit to myself that they won't -- they need to bring back in the FBI and maybe have Emily come into the office on an internship for college prep.
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Jan 13, 2011
Season 1 and 2 of Lie To Me were brilliant but season 3 is kinda boring and doesn't have any action scenes like in the last season
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Jan 13, 2011
Love Lie To Me, however, season 3 has been very inconsistent. Not enjoying Tim Roth as much as in season 1 & 2. He is not as professional & the relationship with Gillian is now significantly lacking. It's a pity because the actors are truly awesome but the scripts are lacking something very important. The main characters need more development as do the relationships. They need better writers who have a vision for the show. There is great potential here given better writers. And the chemistry between Cal & Gillian is a gold mine.. You don't see chemistry like they have anymore...maybe a different network would be beneficial also... Comments please...
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Jan 13, 2011
the BEST SHOW ON TV, MORE OF IT NOT LESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!1
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Jan 13, 2011
absolutely cannot stand this show ... it was good originally then it just became strange like the main actor he is horrible, his accent is painful to listen to, he is unclear and annoying-talks too fast and is arrogant and rude and disrepectful through the whole show. Even the girl that plays his daughter was talking too fast just like him -she was becoming quite annoying in the last show too. TAKE IT OFF THE AIR... blah!
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Jan 13, 2011
Yeah, you guys are right. They only get all gooey over CBS shows like Lost. Oh, wait...
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Jan 13, 2011
I loved this show when it first came on, absolutely loved it. But somehow, sometime this past Fall I realized it had become a chore for me to watch. I still would like to know how the characters continue, which is one of the reasons I read this article, but it just wasn't enough to keep me watching. I don't even know why or how it stopped being good; but for me it did.
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Jan 12, 2011
I like all of the episodes of Lie to Me. I like that every episode focuses on a different aspect of someone's personality and the audience gets to see a little more of each person each time that happens. Again, FOX will have to decide how much it likes its quality scripted drama. Unfortunately, I believe that that factor will probably be the deciding one in whether to cancel a show or not.
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Jan 12, 2011
The two episodes were good. Much better than many other shows being watched by people these days. there is something missing from the episodes for them to be great. more tension to be added, more darkness. The actors can and have provided exceptional performances unlike other actors in shows that work on other channels. the Mentalist, ncis, ... are so dull. there is no justification what so ever canceling a show that has great potential (and dont give me those ratings excuses.) we know what the problems are, fix them and you will get a great show. change the writers, a better editing job and just get the camera to focus on the actors. VOILA.
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Jan 12, 2011
hihi, I love it that there's a different picture of Sam Page under every word :P
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Jan 12, 2011
shame, one of the few great shows left, all we will be left with are things like jersey shore.....horrible the world we live in
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Jan 12, 2011
So sad, because I absolutely love this show and Lightman in particular. I think Tim Roth is a great actor and this character couldn't be what it is without him. I'll be so sorry to see this one cancelled.
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Jan 12, 2011
Look this isn't the show I enjoyed in season 1, and it's painfully obvious it's not getting better. I thought they were scraping the barrel midway into season 2 with this whole "we're not making any money" arc. Now you've got Lightman strutting around and bumping into cases while not writing a book that if he doesn't complete on time will bring about financial ruin for the company.

Yet there he sits around unaffected by it all. His relationship with Jillian has devolved from playful, poignant, them being angry at each other for no apparent reason, and now we're almost at sexual harassment. Oh and don't get me started over how criminally under used Torres and Loker are (even when they are used it's generally been pretty poorly). It's time for this show to get the boot.
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Jan 12, 2011
Yes this site does promote CBS show rather heavily compared to other offerings from competing networks but I've never believed any of their writers purposely dogged a show just because it was on another network. In fact, this site show a ton of love for shows like Fringe, Mad Men, and True Blood.
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Jan 12, 2011
I'm not sure that renewing one show cancels the other, but I think Fringe contrasts pretty well with what is going on with Lie to Me and illustrates its biggest problem. I think that show is on a creative upswing and is expanding the universe of the characters (sorry, that bordered on pun territory) and generating more interest. Lie to Me, by contrast, seems to be plateauing a little bit creatively. By dropping the FBI connection, the writers are having to stretch to find new and unique ways for the group to do their thing. And since the lie detection methodology doesn't really change week-to-week, the creativity would seem to arise from the context in which it is used.
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Jan 12, 2011
I hope Lie to Me gets canceled so Fringe gets a 4th season.
No offense to fans of the show, it's really not bad, I watch it from time to time, but Fringe is just so much better.
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Jan 12, 2011
" 'Funhouse' wasn’t a bad episode, but it wasn't exactly inspired."
" 'Rebound,' the second episode of the night, was also fine-but-not-great."

Hateful?! Aren't we being just a tad defensive here? I'm not even sure that I would agree that it is a negative review. I'm generally a fan of the show and agree with the spirit of this criticism - the shows were decent, but not great. I'm not sure if its a Lightman-ism but there is "No need to get your knickers in a twist."
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Jan 12, 2011
I don't agree with anything in this negative, hateful review. It's not the show that's failing the network; it's the network that's failing the show! Fox does a horrendous job of promoting the highly underrated Lie to Me. Instead, the network dotes on crap shows like Human Target or new shows that they hope will be instant hits and pushes LTM aside like a red headed stepchild. The storylines of "Funhouse" and "Pied Piper" are entirely different, with the exception of the institution setting. Furthermore, you're incorrect in stating, "Lightman experienced hallucinations of his dead mother and father. " If you had been paying attention during "React to Contact ," you would've remembered that Cal's estranged father is still alive (scene with Cal and Emily at the end of the episode). To borrow a couple of Lightman-isms, TV.com reviews are a "load of bollocks" and are "about as much use as a back pocket on a shirt." Two People's Choice Awards (best crime show and best crime fighter, Tim Roth) speak for themselves.
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Jan 12, 2011
LOL.. nice work.. typical of a competing network to slag off another networks show! I really enjoyed this weeks double episode. They were both entertaining and solid. I was glued to my screen for 2 hours. it kept my attention and that's something that is rare with t.v these days.
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Jan 12, 2011
LOL.. nice work.. typical of a competing network to slag off another networks show! I really enjoyed this weeks double episode. They were both entertaining and solid. I was glued to my screen for 2 hours. it kept my attention and that's something that is rare with t.v these days.
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Jan 12, 2011
I wish they would focus more on the facial recognition and characters. I think they are trying too hard with the stories
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Jan 12, 2011
Oh, and by the way, Lie to Me fans: This site is run by CBS Entertainment. Look at the bottom. That tell you anything?
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Jan 12, 2011
I thought these were two great, solid episodes!! Geez, lighten up!
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Jan 12, 2011
I actually quite enjoyed these two episodes. The mental hospital storyline was re-used which is a shame but the plots of both were engaging enough to keep me interested.
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Jan 12, 2011
When were things ever looking good. This is one of the most boring show ever.
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