Wash Hands, Stay In, But Don't Lie To Me - Self Isolation, Day 6.

If I were the kind of person who dealt in stocks and shares, I'd be buying in social networks, film and TV streaming sites, and the companies that make 24 hour news tickers. The people who write those things must be loving this. Years of, essentially, the same bit of text looping round and round and then - BAM - suddenly there's new information every ninety seconds. Numbers to update. Vital details to transmit to the increasingly worried/not worried enough masses. The whole thing must be quite confusing for your average journalist. The ultimate dichotomy for those who pay the bills by keeping the world up to date. On the one hand, JESUSSHITEVERYTHINGISAWFUL, but on the other, what a fucking brilliant story. It’s the once in a lifetime scoop they must all dream of. And it's going to last for months.

Well, I for one refuse to play their game. I’m avoiding the news for couple of days. It’s the only language they understand, unless they speak French or Mandarin or whatever, and then they understand those too. Also, it might halt my descent into certainty of End Times. Yeah, ok, it’s entirely for that reason, but I wanted to look tough, like I was fighting an oppressive media. My bigger problem at the moment is the equally crushing presence of the aforementioned streaming sites. In my case it’s Netflix and Amazon Prime, but I’m sure the competition are just as insidious. Prime, for example, has tricked me into watching Lie To Me.

*We respect and value our audience as intelligent, sentient beings 

It wasn’t entirely Amazon’s fault, like all dealers I was sent their way by a friend. Nobody lied (hah) about anything, nothing was mis-sold. Look, it’s complicated. Actually, no it’s not, it’s really simple: it’s trash. If you’re not familiar - and I hope for your sake you’re not - Lie To Me is an American, procedural crime drama, and like all American procedural crime dramas since CSI, it has a twist. Tim Roth is Cal Lightman, the worlds leading deception expert. Yep. He studies ‘micro expressions’ and body language to expose the truth. I know. A character will say something, the camera will cut to a close up of their brow furrowing or them biting their lip, and afterwards Dr Lightman will turn to a colleague and say something like, ‘a flare of the nostril means they can smell their own shit - they’re lying’. He’s basically a wizard.

Seventy percent of all dialogue is exposition. The supporting team at The Lightman Group (an impossibly sleek-officed business that seems to be hired by every government agency and the odd suspicious husband or wife) are equally miraculous in their lie detection. They’re also insufferably smug, sterile people whose lives outside of doing the FBI’s job for them, exist only to cram in the odd moment of failing romance, angst or intrigue so forced and sign-posted that they make Harriet The Spy look like The Wire. None of them have any depth. Or height. Or particularly distinguishing features. Even the dental work seems to be copy/paste. In terms of typical characters they couldn't be more stereo, and in term of sets, how many interrogation rooms are constructed entirely of glass and bright white fluorescent tubes? IT’S JUST IMPRACTICAL.

This is where the U.S. Intelligence Agencies grill their perps. And do the crossword on a nice Sunday morning. 

There’s a distinctly Dr Gregory House vibe to the personality of Lightman himself, and it seems clear that was what they were shooting for. They missed. Like, they missed by a lot. His hidden trauma is boring, his bluntness unamusing and jarring, and his disinterest in everything is palpable. The biggest similarity is that both of these men know that everyone lies, but even Dr House would only point that out once, maybe twice and episode. Lightman and his staff mention it every scene, at least. The writers can’t even think of interesting storylines for the office assistant who doesn’t lie, even offering up the odd uncomfortable truth unprompted. That’s a fascinating idea to play with and all they can dredge up is to have him tell the odd woman that he is sexually attracted to them or that he’s thinking of the ‘thousands of things he wants to do with them’. It’s all very lazy, derivative, uninspired, predictable, takes itself far too seriously, and is made at about sixty four percent capacity from direction to performance. All of this is evident within the first ten minutes of episode one.

So, obviously, I’ve nearly watched all three seasons. That’s the point here. Finally. It’s made just well enough so as not to repel me, and is so badly made that I can’t stop tearing it apart. Thus necessitating watching it. It wants to look like TV that might make you think a bit, that’s just slightly clever, while not actually wanting to make you think. At all. Ever. Unless you’re enjoying critiquing the very visible off-the-shelf pieces that they've clickety-clacked together to make each episode, you can easily follow what’s going on from the other room with the volume low. Or while you write a blog that is too long and descriptive about a show that stopped being made nine years ago. I’m not even a week into my confinement, I can only imagine the sort of shit I’ll be watching in a months time. So thanks, Corvid-19. First you took my two ply Cushelle, then you came for my sense of time and quality.

It’s still better than Miranda, though.

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