Fox premieres a brand new, shiny show tonight, Lie to Me. You may have heard of it. If you’ve been watching House, American Idol, or NFL football , you have absolutely heard of it. You didn’t have a choice. And don’t try to lie about it, because the protagonist, played by the pretty terrific Tim Roth, will be able to tell. He’s a human lie detector, after all. You may have been able to tell from the commercials. Which he knows you saw.
The castaways on Lost could use a human lie detector–or maybe it’s the audience who needs one. The twisty drama returns tonight with Ben and Jack–the two biggest liars on the island, if you ask me–trying to persuade the rest of the Oceanic 6 to return to the island. Good luck finding it, cowboys. I’m sure Ben will have a plan he’ll refuse to disclose to you, but you’ll follow him anyway. Tim Roth will be available on Fox if you need him to sort through all of that.
Naturally, both shows are airing at the same time. Which to choose, which to choose? Let’s go to the scoreboard. In addition to Roth, Lie to Me features Kelli Williams. I loooooooved me some Practice in their early days, but I’m not sure Kelli Williams was the biggest reason why (where is my Dylan McDermott eye candy?! It’s a prescription.), so what else have they got? Brendan Hines is certainly a plus (bring back The Middleman!). Lost doesn’t seem to want to reveal many new characters or guest stars (although Tom Irwin is promising), but the idea of Ben and Jack having to work together to transport Locke’s body back to the island amuses me. Lost is also available on ABC.com and will be rebroadcast on Saturday, so I might check out the new kid on the block. If you have a giant frozen wheel handy, though, you could travel through time and watch both. Why not? If you can move an island with a giant frozen wheel, why not a TV show? Both premiere tonight at 9 Eastern and Pacific, 8 Central and Mountain; Lost has a recap show an hour before.
I don’t know whether it’s the warm weather itself that draws me to lighter television fare in the summer months, or that I’m just conditioned by a lifetime of television viewing habits to look for nothing edgier than Golden Girls reruns when the sun burns hot and high overhead. Either way, The Middleman, a new series debuting tonight on ABC Family, fits the bill perfectly.
This superhero comedy–based on Lost writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach’s comic books–falls somewhere between Get Smart and Men in Black in tone, with a healthy dose of TV Bacon fav The Tick thrown in for good measure. In the pilot (currently available for free on iTunes), twentysomething temp Wendy Watson (played with sardonic perfection by Natalie Morales) is recruited to a life of crime fighting (or, as she dubs it, “the paramilitary version of Amway”) by a straitlaced superhero called the Middleman (Matt Keeslar).
You won’t see much here that you’ve haven’t seen before. Nevertheless, the two make a deliciously fun duo as Wendy fires off sarcastic quips and pop culture references with Gilmore Girls-esque speed and the Middleman punctuates his anachronistic personal style with exclamations like “jiminy!” and “dagnabbit!” It also doesn’t hurt the show’s likability quotient that Wendy is essentially every geekboy’s fantasy: a Shaft-quoting, xBox-playing, comic book literate hottie with cool, arty glasses. Hell, I think I’ve got a crush on her.
The show’s not quite G-rated (the pilot features jokes about swear words, all of which are artfully bleeped, and references to Wendy being a beard) but the violence is cartoony (a bad guy who’s just suffered a righteous face-pounding displays no upsetting blood or bruises) and the tone light-hearted enough that the little ones won’t be at any risk of any nightmares. Adult viewers will appreciate the wry wit and obscure references, while the kiddos will enjoy the off-the-wall weapons the Middleman and Co. use to fend off the goofy villains they encounter.
Best of all, there’s almost no chance of this show ever taking itself too seriously. In fact, it’s so lightweight that you might even accuse it of being fluff. And maybe it is, but it’s fluff like the meringue topping on a lemon icebox pie–just the thing on a lazy summer evening.