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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Tell me lies, tell me sweet little lies ...

You can tell a lot about TV shows based solely on their early promos. Or at least that's what I've been telling myself as I've become increasingly drawn to debut Fox show "Lie to Me," which is set to premiere Jan. 21.

Now granted, the promo ran about 8,000 times during the Minnesota Vikings-Philadelphia Eagles game playing at my desk in the Press-Gazette newsroom Sunday afternoon (more than tolerable when one considers how much the "American Idol" one played.) But since the show appears to have some promise attached to it, I find myself more intrigued than annoyed.

First, the show has a rock solid premise as far as police procedurals go -- the tell tale signs of deception that all of us unknowingly engage in on a daily basis. And while I'm not saying this as someone who watches that ridiculous body language expert employed by Bill O'Reilly, I do believe that real truth can be found in a slight scratch of the cheek, an uncomfortable twirl of the hair or a not-so-subtle lack of eye contact.

Enough to build a show around? As someone who has loved Tim Roth since "Pulp Fiction" -- and watched him hilariously yell, "Anybody want a side of feces?" during a recent promo -- I certainly hope so.

According to Fox's handy dandy info sheet, the show is based on a real-life specialist who can read clues embedded in the human face, body and voice to expose the truth behind the lies in criminal investigations. A lot of people probably claim to be communication experts -- nonverbal or otherwise -- but are they actually good at applying these tells or ticks to real crime solving?

The Futon Critic has a nice review of the pilot, and points out that the show's universal "microexpressions" are given greater weight by showing clips of real life "storytellers" like Kato Kaelin, Hugh Grant and Bill Clinton. The first case revolves around the son of a family of devout Jehovah's Witnesses who is accused of killing his teacher after being caught fleeing the scene, and the review goes so far as to call "Lie to Me" "the new show to watch in January."

Certainly promising, and a nice feather in the cap for those who believe that a good set-up gets you in the door while the characters take it from there. Nab a clever, sardonic actor like Roth and pair him with an intriguing concept, you should be able to move past some of the normal hurdles that plague new shows. Here's hoping "Lie to Me" delivers some TV truth off the bat.

The show premieres at 8 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 21 on Fox.

-- Thomas Rozwadowski,



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