Dr. Paul Ekman, the psychologist who inspired the new Fox series Lie to Me and currently blogs about its accuracy, subscribes to Darwin's idea that facial expressions are universal; we all share the same basic tells for shame, fear, disgust and more. The series' creators have extended that sense of sharing to its conception.
Tim Roth's Dr. Cal Lightman is another brilliant mind with bad social skills like Tony Shalhoub's Monk or Hugh Laurie's House (Roth does get to keep his British accent, though).
Balancing House's full-tilt trial-and-error with Monk's methodical, detail-obsessed crime solving, Lightman and his small team of assistants read faces and bodies to help law enforcement and private clients separate truth from deception. The show's visual style tops off their efforts with a little CSI cool.
After two episodes, it's already inescapably formulaic, and the supporting characters' individual quirks still feel forced. Nevertheless, the underappreciated Roth is having a blast in the lead, and his pleasure offers a vicarious thrill. And credit is due for clever use of real-life photo evidence to back up the show's underlying science.
Better yet, after watching Lightman point out a tell that indicates someone's hiding something, I was able to spot it somewhere else the next day - in a clip of Rod Blagojevich's appearance on The View.