I can’t lie. I found Fox’s “Lie to Me,” about a brilliant deception expert, to be predictable, standard fare.

Dr. Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) can detect fibbing through body language, a handshake and or an expression.

“Truth is written on all our faces,” Lightman says.

Color me disappointed. Lightman’s tricks are more intriguing than his cases in the premiere, at 9 p.m. EST Wednesday.

He unravels the case of a teen accused of murdering a teacher while his associates try to explain a congressman’s ties to a call girl. I’m no deception expert, but I knew where these cases were headed – from watching too many procedurals.

Still, “Lie to Me” looks like a sturdy addition to the crime-saturated schedule. Lightman doesn’t handle his cases with the flair or showmanship of CBS’ “The Mentalist.” But Lightman plays games with wicked humor, and the premiere hints at a juicy mystery in his past.

Lightman leads a company of behavioral psychologists in helping law enforcement or government agencies. He makes a good team with Gillian Foster (Kelli Williams of “The Practice”). He needles people. She plays the diplomat and explains their approach.

“The question is never simply if someone is lying. It’s why,” she says.

She indulges a sweet tooth while not facing a truth in her personal life that’s evident to colleagues. Geeky Eli Loker (Brendan Hines) practices what he calls “radical honesty.” Newcomer Ria Torres (Monica Raymund) is no less blunt.

The show is based on the real-life work of Paul Ekman. Perhaps that’s why Lightman gives such a riveting lecture. In explaining faces, he draws Bill Clinton, Hugh Grant and Marilyn Monroe for shame and George W. Bush and Simon Cowell for contempt.

Roth makes a good teacher, and he has a likable, wiseguy quality that’s reminiscent of William Petersen on “CSI.” At this point, though, “Lie to Me” makes a better lecture than a drama.


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