There are several indications that Lie to Me has a good chance at success. Proceduals do big business these days, and Lie to Me shares a lot of characteristics with Fox’s other big hit procedural, House. Both shows are fronted by talented, charismatic British actors whose characters are kept in line by high-cheekboned actresses who overenunciate just a touch. Both are constructed around convoluted mysteries that serve up red herrings like appetizers. Both have comic-relief side characters who overshare. Toss in the fact that Lie to Me focuses on easier-to-grasp crimes (as opposed to obscure diseases) and the fact that the pilot episode handled introductory exposition better than the average show, and it’s little surprise that the show actually outscored the premiere of Lost in total viewers.
Lie to Me shares other characteristics with House, though, and we’d prefer to see them break out of those patterns. Like House, several points of Lie to Me‘s plot led to unnecessary grotesqueries. While the icky moments on House tend toward the visual, Lie to Me wove the unpleasantries right into the story. There appears to be a market for those kinds of things–the CSI bandwagon rolls on–but we tend to pass on teenagers masturbating over dead bodies and politicians pretending to be a john to hooker daughters, thanks. Like many procedurals, House is so far into a groove every mystery could be charted on graph paper (Minute 10: medical crisis requires crash cart and proves initial theory incorrect). Lie to Me‘s format already looks like it could fall into the same trap, and I’m not yet convinced Tim Roth’s character will be shaded in with as interesting colors as Gregory House is. The crime-fighting rut pulls ratings, but it’s not very fresh. I hope I’m wrong–a procedural that holds viewer interest with clever science and genuine twists would be a welcome diversion.