Lie to Me (Season 3) TV Review

Any show which lasts for a decent number of seasons should begin to change and become a different series to what it was when it first began. The characters should naturally develop and grow, the situation the show is centered in and resolves around should also change and the series will eventually begin to look and feel quite different to what it was when it first began.

If you are lucky, the show develops in a natural, understandable and suitable direction that the fans go with and maybe even attracts new viewers. If you are unfortunate, the show will begin to suffer because of the new change and hemorrhage fans, viewers and eventually get cancelled. Either way, this change and development shouldn’t be a shock, it shouldn’t happen without any reason and should be organic, without notice unless someone watches the first season after having just watched the fifth.

Tim Roth’s Cal Lightman seems to have a personality change.

Unfortunately for Lie to Me, the series seemed to change quite rapidly between season 2 and 3 without any real cause, reason or explanation. Characters act in ways that seem uncharacteristic, the shows central theme becomes secondary and worse of all, it seemed to lose its edge, appeal and unique attraction.

The person who changed the most was Tim Roth’s Cal Lightman. In previous seasons he has been sharp, quick-witted, often mean but with a heart. This season he seems to be snappy, harsh and cold for no reason. He has lost the calmer, softer side to his character that made him appealing. He jumps straight to hard-edged and nasty, when it at least took the person to lie first before he did it.

Not enough is done with the previously great chemistry between Lightman and Foster.

His colleagues seem to put up with this much more and don’t play off his character as well as they used to either. His lighter-edge was always represented by Gillian Foster played by Kelli Williams. This season, they seem to dislike each other, losing some of the winning, “will they-won’t they” chemistry that was a positive in the two earlier seasons. It feels like we missed a storyline where they fell out in a huge way.

The storylines are actually one of the more positive aspects of the show. The situations the team find themselves in are very good, making use of the unique “human lie detector” edge the show has. Everything from a manipulative cult leader to a woman with Alzheimers, Cal and his team have some very interesting cases to deal with. It’s just a shame that they seem to overlook the “lie detector” aspect of the show. Some of the most interesting and engaging parts of the previous season was when the facial expressions and subconscious indicators were explained and realised. It was beginning to fall away last season and in the third season, has pretty much disappeared.

The show has lost some of the unique edge which made the first season so entertaining.

It becomes quite obvious, quite quickly, that the show was running on empty in some areas and hadn’t developed key stories quick enough. There is a throw-away line about Cal loving Foster in the final scene of the final episode that feels ripe for development but came too late. As is the story involving the disgruntled and under-appreciated Eli Loker and his attempts at recognition and acceptance. The stories are good but at the expense of the characters we have followed for three seasons.

Overall, Lie to Me lost its very unique way in season 3. It felt dramatically different to what had gone before, with some huge changes in character’s personalities, without explanation and a complete disregard for the mechanics of its central premise. The stories are good and the cases are interesting but it lacks any character development and sets up interesting paths for each of them which are never realised. Maybe it ran its course or was going for a different direction, but Lie to Me could have used at least another season to do it.

Best Episode – Funhouse: One of the only episodes that delves into the characters slightly more.

Best performance – Brendan Hines as Eli Loker

Should there have been another season? – No, I think time had been called on Lie to Me. It was a different show which had lost its appealing edge.

Season Rating – 3

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

Lie to Me had reached its natural and rightful end.
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3 comments

  1. I just binge watched this series on netflix. All I could think was, what the hell happened to lightman’s character? I couldn’t agree with you more with your review. I thought perhaps the actor had a drug problem, or perhaps we would find out his character did. He started acting odd, not in a believable way, making so many odd facial gestures. Was he trying to prevent people from reading his? I too wondered what happened with the lovely tension between lightman and foster. I thought I accidentally slept through an episode. It was just gone. poof. and then so was this show. :/

    • It was a series with a major shelf-life unfortunately. A great angle but it only had so much potential and it ran that into the ground. I also think Tim Roth realised that and he began to phone-in his performances slightly towards the end – probably when they realised they were getting cancelled.

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