Lie to me

Lie to Me (stylized as Lie to me*) is an American criminal drama television series that originally ran on the Fox network from January 2009 until January 2011. The series ran for a total of three seasons before the series was cancelled by the network, having ended with just fewer than 50 episodes total.

The series was inspired by the works of Paul Ekman, the world’s foremost expert on facial expressions. He works as a profession of psychology at the University of California San Francisco, and acts as the real-life basis for the series’ primary character, Dr. Cal Lightman. Ekman served as the scientific consultant for the show during its production, offering his real-life expertise to add another layer of believability to the inner workings of the show.

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Like other criminal investigation series, Lie to Me follows the efforts of Dr. Cal Lightman and his team of experts as they consult on local and federal government criminal investigations. Unlike other series of a similar nature, however, Lie to Me focuses on Dr. Lightman’s ability to determine if a person is lying by reading and understanding the microexpressions expressed through their facial and body language, a technique he spent years developing. Lightman and his team of deception experts use this skill, in addition to basic and applied psychology and interpretation of body language to consult for local and federal law enforcement agencies.

Most interestingly, the show makes a valiant effort to maintain a level of truth in what the characters do. Oftentimes, the characters make a point of reminding whatever agency they’re consulting for that understanding why a person is lying is just as important as determining if a person is lying. As is the case with many of the cases brought before the Lightman Group, the lie isn’t nearly as interesting or as telling as the reason for the lie in the first place.

Over the course of its three seasons, Lie to Me received generally positive reviews from both critics and audiences alike. IMDb rated the series a solid 8/10 based on over 80,000 user reviews of the series. The series received generally average reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, with the first two seasons only receiving a 67% approval rating. Despite its positive reception, however, Lie to Me was only given three seasons by the Fox network, which cancelled the series in May 2011 after the third season had concluded.

According to the overall consensus of critics on the site, “[Lie to Me] suffers from similarities to other like-minded procedurals, particularly in its writing and characters, but Lie to Me is a relatively fun hour of television with a novel premise.” This assessment of the series was due in part to the lack of an overarching plotline than many other series of a similar nature had and used as part of the overall narrative. Instead, Lie to Me was more a procedural investigation television series with loosely strung together plot points and nothing at all to tie them together.

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All three seasons of Lie to Me are available for streaming on Netflix, which you can access via the internet when you sign up for current Comcast XFINITY Internet Plans.

Leverage

Leverage is an American television drama series that originally aired on the TNT cable network. The series aired for five seasons, beginning in December 2008 and ending in December of 2012, for a total of 77 episodes. Leverage was produced by Electric Entertainment, a television/media company established in 2001 by writer-producer Dean Devlin.

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The series follows Nathan Ford (Timothy Hutton) and his morally ambiguous team of con artists and thieves after Nathan quits his lucrative career as an insurance claims investigator. His team is composed of top-rated criminals, each of them specialists and experts in their individual fields (grifting, thieving, hacking and retrieving). Together they make up Leverage Consulting & Associates, a completely legitimate consulting agency that helps people in legal dealings. In reality, however, Nathan’s team works above and beyond the law, helping innocent people find recompense when the legal system is either unable or incapable of helping them seek legal recourse, usually against wealthy corporations who have strong armed them into a corner.

While Leverage may seem little more than a modern day twist on Robin Hood, the series offers more than just a simple series of stories that involve robbing from the rich and giving to the needy. The series combines intelligent characterization with equally stunning schemes and plans that oftentimes leave the audiences guessing until they very end.

Sharp, witty conversation and ongoing inside jokes keep audiences engaged while simultaneously bringing to life these fictional characters. The added benefit of the protagonists being various shades of gray as opposed to stark white allows for a wider selection of audience members to sympathize with the Leverage group and their actions as a whole. Moreover, as the series progresses, so do the romantic and platonic relationships between the characters, allowing audiences a chance for a deeper understanding of character motivation and development.

The series was generally met with positive reviews during the course of its airtime. Overall, the show received an approval rating of 7.9/10 on IMDb based on 32,000 audience members. On Rotten Tomatoes, the first season received generally positive reviews from critics while being well-received by audience members and site users as a whole. The general critical consensus for the first season was that “Leverage is uneven and occasionally illogical, but its twisty, exciting plotting make for a caper series that’s compelling and watchable.”

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The biggest complaint that the series received, from both critics and audiences alike, was its unevenness in regard to its primary narrative. While the secondary stories and subplots were natural and moved at a believable, easy-to-follow pace, audiences oftentimes had troubles following the episodic storyline. While it’s necessary to suspend one’s disbelief in order to better understand and accept the flow of a story, Leverage would oftentimes abuse this suspension without creating a situation believable enough to accept. Intended to be puzzling and thought provoking, the series would often become far too confusing for some audience members and critics to follow, leaving them to stumble through some of the larger, gaping plot holes instead of easily following along with the story.

You can watch episodes of Leverage on TNT.com and Hulu with your internet connection when you sign up for Comcast Internet deals.

 

Law & Order

Law & Order is an American police procedural television drama series that was created by Dick Wolf, an American television producer who specializes in criminal dramas. The series is the first in the Law & Order franchise, serving as the parent series and foundation for all others to follow and expand upon in later series. The first season of the original Law & Order premiered in September 1990, completing its final season in May 2010 after NBC announced its plans to cancel the series. While Dick Wolf valiantly tried to find a new home for the series, his attempts were in vain and the series ended, though it would lead to a series of future spin-offs.

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Law and Order

Each episode of the Law & Order series followed a basic formula for the narrative. The first half of the episode would focus on the discovery of a crime somewhere in New York City, the series’ primary setting. In most cases, the crime was murder, and would be discovered by some unfortunate man or woman out for their morning jog. Afterwards, the New York City Police Department would begin a criminal investigation in hopes of determining a party responsible for the crime in question. The usual procedure for this would include police officers questioning witnesses if any are available in addition whoever discovered the crime; gathering up evidence at the scene of the crime and any other location that might shed light on the identity of the culprit; and arresting and charging a suspect with a crime after finding probable cause for assuming he or she responsible for the illegal action. Afterwards, the episode focuses on the prosecution’s efforts to bring justice to the plaintiff.

Following the prosecutors of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, audience members are guided through the inner workings of the American justice system by a myriad of characters. While the characters themselves may be fictional in nature, they perform completely non-fictional duties as they pertain to the American legal system in an attempt to prove beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the defendant to a jury of his or her peers.

The cases represented in many of the episodes were based on actual on-going criminal investigations and trials. This “ripped from the headlines” approach to producing a television series became a core aspect of the Law & Order television franchise, and a staple component of each episode.

As the series progressed, however, the show drifted (if only slightly) from using ongoing criminal investigations as a template for the episode. Instead, the episode would draw from key aspects and components of these criminal trials, using the real-life instance as a source of inspiration, as opposed to re-telling the story with only minor superficial changes (particularly to the names of the plaintiffs and defendant, as well as anyone involved in the legal proceedings of the case).

This manner of borrowing aspects of real-life events became a popular aspect of the Law & Order franchise, especially in the original series, and allowed for Dick Wolf and the show’s writers to explore variations to the outcome of the case. Oftentimes this meant altering the various parameters involved in the initial case, such as adding murder, varying the perpetrators intent, or creating an entirely different environment than what might have been present in the real-life investigation or case. This, of course, allowed for the writers to bring other aspects of their characters to life and make their ideologies, methods and feelings integral to the story. This method served to endear the plights and struggles of the plaintiffs to the audience members, while creating deeper, more realistically written primary characters.

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Pop Culture Influences

The show’s critical success spawned a cult-like following of the series, and a renewed interest in criminal investigation dramas. Moreover, because of the show’s monumental success, the show’s creator Dick Wolf launched other series that followed in line with the original series, including Law & Order SVU and Criminal Intent.

The commercial success of the television series paved the way for other police procedural dramas to take root—such as CSI, Monk and Criminal Minds, to name a few—and flourish where years before there was little to no call for such a genre of television drama. This renewed interest in the American legal system additionally encouraged audience members to pay closer attention to means and methods their law enforcement agencies tended to deal with criminal investigations (very similar to the CSI effect that encouraged jurors to weigh their opinions more heavily on forensic evidence gathered from crime scenes).

The Heart of Justice

Like many police procedural dramas, Law and Order focuses on character development and character interaction to create a compelling narrative and universe that extends beyond the “monster of the week” aspect that is particular to this genre of television series. Of course, each new case would build upon the groundwork laid out by previous interactions and development. The characters were dynamic, ever-changing and ever-responsive to the world around them.

Although fictional, the characters of Law & Order dealt with real-life situations and figured out how to overcome the real-life obstacles presented to them, either in their personal or professional lives. Moreover, the manner in which the character handled these situations was unique and particular to the character, as the writers paid especially close attention to the development and personality of the characters they wrote for, speaking to a high level of respect for the individual characters.

Each episode would thrust these beloved individuals into circumstances that would oftentimes challenge their core belief system, or their perception of reality. While far more rigid characters would be less inclined to learn and adapt, those of Law & Order were able to grow and evolve, as is human nature. This ability to learn and internalize created truly believable characters that audience members were able to relate to on a level that went far beyond simply watching a familiar fictional face on the television screen. For many, these were living, breathing people in New York City who fought against crime through use of the legal system. To watch Law & Order whenever you please, sign up for any current Comcast XFINITY Internet Plans and stream any episode online!

3 Historical Inaccuracies in BBC’s Wolf Hall

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The BBC television adaptation of Wolf Hall is the latest adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s award winning series of novels. The series has received mixed reviews, with many criticisms being levied against the show for its stiff, dark atmosphere and it’s historically inaccuracies which occasionally veer too far from known history to be satisfying. Let’s take a look at two significant inaccuracies—and some of those little inaccuracies that add up over time—in Wolf Hall.

Cromwell was not Henry VIII’s puppet master

The show has taken some pretty great pains to depict both Thomas Cromwell and Henry VIII as more innocent than they really were. Cromwell, strangely enough, is depicted both as fairly innocent and a puppet master for his king at the same time; in the show, Cromwell clearly holds the reins (or more accurately, “reign”!) over the king, to the point where he is depicted as the sole influence over some of Henry VIII’s major political and personal decisions. Yet in reality, Cromwell was an advisor to the king; a top and trusted advisor, to be sure, but merely that: an advisor. Cromwell did wield influence in court, and with the king, but he was not the puppet master to a hapless but violence Henry.

Anne Boleyn was not a threatening shrew

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The characterization of Anne Boleyn in the series is a sore sticking point for many people, particularly since the reputation of Anne Boleyn has undergone some much needed repairs in recent years. The show’s version of Anne—like Hilary Mantel’s novel—is a calculating, threatening shrew-like character that has very little warmth in her except love for her daughter. Boleyn in the series is constantly scheming; constantly thinking of ways to take down her enemies, and even threatens Thomas Cromwell with an “undoing” if he doesn’t obey her wishes. This depiction is straight out of the gossip sheets and propaganda-like reports written by Anne Boleyn’s most hated enemies, who naturally had cause to write the worst about Anne—and should not be taken as an accurate description of her behavior by anyone with an eye for accuracy.

Some aspects of Tudor life just aren’t quite correct

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There are many little details in the show that just don’t ring true. Some of the most notable small details are:

  • The characters, at Hilary Mantel’s insistence, have straight white teeth; while their teeth may not have been blackened like those at Elizabeth I’s court (due to the importing of sugar) they would not have been bleached-white modern smiles, either
  • The tapestries, bedding, clothing and other decorative objects have faded dull colors. In reality they would have been bright and vibrant, however the show’s frontrunner said that audiences would be “used to” the drab colors and for that reason, he didn’t want to make them historically accurate.
  • The codpieces are very small. Codpieces were a staple for Tudor men, particularly the king and the most elite at his court. The show makes them so small they may as well have done away with them altogether.

To watch Wolf Hall, sign up for any current Comcast Internet deals and stream them online!

Do You Remember Bob Ross?

Bob Ross (born October 29, 1942 as Robert Norman Ross) was a famous American painter and art instructor. He was born in Daytona Beach, Florida and grew up in Orlando. In the early 90s, he was diagnosed with lymphoma, forcing him to retire from his iconic role as host for the American television series The Joy of Painting in 1994. He would die a year later and be buried in the Woodlawn Memorial Park in Florida.

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Throughout his lifetime, Ross became an accomplished military sergeant, a world-famous television host, and an iconic artist known for his oil paintings and soft-spoken demeanor. He is most widely known and remembered for his “no mistakes in art” ideology, which served as a strong foundation for many amateur artists just finding themselves. Ross is an inspiration to the artists of the world, and his respect for nature has served as a reminder of humanity’s impact on the natural world.

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Ross served for 20 years in the United States Air Force, between the years of 1961 and 1981. He originally began his service as a medical records technician. Over the years, Ross would rise and attain the rank of Master Sergeant. His duties as a military officer left Ross sour because such positions meant that he was required to scream. He hoped that if he ever had the chance to leave the military, his next role would find him in a place where he would never have to scream again.

After becoming a Master Sergeant, Ross was sent to an Alaskan Air Force base. It was during his service at the Eielson base that he saw the snow and mountains that would become reoccurring themes in his future role as an oil paint artist.

While working and living in Alaska, Ross would discover a television series called The Magic World of Oil Painting, hosted by Bill Alexander, a German oil painter. Ross would study with Bill Alexander and learn a deeper appreciation and respect for oil paintings, as well as the techniques deployed in creating them. He would use this knowledge to expand upon his own skill as an amateur oil painter, his quick-painting technique, which he would later become famous for across the world. Coupled along with his dissatisfaction with his temperament and demeanor whilst in the military, Ross eagerly accepted the chance to break free of his military position and move into a much happier role as an oil painter.

The Joy of Painting

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Boss Ross is most famous for his appearance as the host for the American instructional art series, The Joy of Painting. Ross hosted the series for a total of 31 seasons, featuring 403 30-minute long episodes that primarily focused on teaching audience members of all ages and skill levels the basics of oil painting, while creating a different canvas painting every episode.

Throughout the course of his time as the host, Ross would instruct audience members on oil painting through the use of a quick-study technique that would later become known as the Bob Ross Wet-on-Wet Technique. His style of painting varied from the traditional methodology of oil painting, which would require lengthy amounts of time for various layers of paint to dry before applying a new layer. His method applies wet paint atop still-wet paint in order to create a smooth transition of colors without stark contrasts, allowing Ross to create a complete canvas project in a 30-minute timeframe.

Bob Ross’ Legacy

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For many, Ross served as an inspirational reminder that mistakes happen, and they happen all the time. The best thing anyone can do about it, though, is to incorporate that error, to make use of that sign of humanity into the overall art and make it become part of the artwork.

Most audience members attributed Ross’ huge level of success—nationally and internationally—to his soft-spoken demeanor and his tangible appreciation for the art he was creating. He was passionate about his love of art, and never allowed a “mistake” to interfere. In fact, it was his ideology that there were no mistakes in art, there were only opportunities to create something fundamentally unique.

Ross’ consistent effort to create works of brilliant art inspired thousands to take up brush and paint and follow along beside him. The fact that Ross was determined to only use a limited number of supplies, all of which were easy to attain and relatively affordable, only further bolstered his following’s adoration for him, and method of creating art. His soft-spoken nature was easy to follow, and offered the non-artistically inclined members of his audience to follow along and enjoy the captivating experience of creating visually exuberant masterpieces through the simple use of oil paints and a canvas. Netflix is currently streaming certain Bob Ross episodes, so if you have an internet connection from any Comcast XFINITY Internet offers, you can watch those reruns now!

The Secrets of MasterChef

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MasterChef is one of the most popular cooking TV shows in recent years—and arguably the most popular cooking competition on regular network television. The show’s premise is simple: a group of competitors completes cooking challenges each week in order to beat each other and be named “MasterChef.” The competitors come from all different walks of life and experience levels, and some of the show’s most skilled winners have come from very humble (cooking-wise) backgrounds. The show is not just popular in the United States, but internationally as well—there are MasterChef adaptations in countries such as Italy, Germany, Australia, Canada, just to name a few. Like any popular show, MasterChef does have its secrets—the following are some of the secrets behind this intense cooking reality show.

The competitors are given cooking classes

Multiple times per week during production, the would-be MasterChef’s are given cooking classes by professionally trained chefs. The classes cover everything from the basics in the kitchen—such as how to cook risottos, chop up food safely, bake a pie, etc.—to some pretty specific skills, such as how to best cook a lobster or how to poach an egg. Although the classes can help, contestants have revealed while they learn the basic skills necessary to do the challenges in the classes, they aren’t a substitute for skill and some cooking common sense.

Contestants almost always quit their job after the show

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It wouldn’t be surprising if the winners didn’t go back to their day jobs after the competition, but in reality most contestants—even the losers—decide to quit their jobs after being on the show. The reasons for this are varied; some quit because people at their old job may recognize them from the show, while others decide to quit pursuing something else. About 70% of the show’s contestants who make it past the initial selection decide to pursue a food related career after winning.

MasterChef Australia helps contestants out financially

According to insiders, the Australian incarnation of MasterChef actually gives contestants an allowance of at least $500 per week in order to cover their living expenses, since they obviously can’t be working at their 9-to-5 job while filming the show. MasterChef Australia is the only MasterChef show that is known to help out the participants financially while they are on the show.

MasterChef Junior almost didn’t happen

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MasterChef Junior was a welcome hit for Fox, but the show almost didn’t make it to the air. The executive producers of the Fox network fought against the show because of the trouble that their previous “kid” reality show (Kid Nation) brought them. However, the show’s creators kept up the good fight and Fox relented. Not only has the show’s executive producer described the children as a delight to work with, they are actually more careful when cooking on the set than the adults in the regular edition of MasterChef—and according to Gordon Ramsay, it is the adults and not the kids who have the most accidents with knives. To watch MasterChef any time you want, purchase XFINITY broadband offers today.

4 Original Amazon Shows You Should Be Watching

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Streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime aren’t just for reruns and movies anymore—streaming services are now creating their own original programming. Shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and other original streaming service shows are becoming mainstays in popular culture, even though they have yet to grace regular TV cable.

Amazon, through its Amazon Prime network, has also joined the original programming game. If you’re looking to check out some of Amazon’s original shows, consider the following shows that you really should be watching.

 

Transparent

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Transparent is the very first Amazon original series to win two Golden Globe awards–which it won for Best Comedy Series and Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Comedy or Musical Series; in fact, the show is the very first show created by a streaming service to win a Golden Globe for Best Series!

The show is not just notable for its awards, however, but for its premise: the show follows a transgender woman who recently came out to her family, who struggles to come to terms with her newly revealed identity. The show realistically–but with a touch of humor–shows how the woman and her family deal with their newfound situation.

Alpha House

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Alpha House is a biting satirical political comedy that is loosely—very loosely—based on a real story. The series follows four fictional congressmen struggling with political party fights, scandals and controversies and, of course, the ever present battle for re-election. The show stars John Goodman and was created by Gary Trudeau, best known for being the man behind Doonesbury.

Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street

Original streaming shows aren’t just for adults anymore! Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street is a group of three friends who live on “Normal Street,” a street where every day occurrences are anything but normal. The primary focus of the show deals with how these friends deal with “Normal Street’s” less than normal occurrences.

The show has plenty of weird supernatural and quirky happenings, which make it a great choice for younger viewers who love zany fantasy shows and will get a kick out of Gortimer Gibbon’s sense of humor. The show may have a younger demographic, but it’s also a fun watch for older viewers who want to watch something whimsical and silly as well!

Mozart in the Jungle

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If you’re a fan of classical music, you should already be watching Mozart in the Jungle. The series, based on a fictional book with the same name, is a fictional look at the behind the scenes drama and scandal of the New York Symphony. The Symphony is furthered rocked when a new conductor with less than traditional methods enters the show.

The show stars Bernadette Peters—and if that’s not enough to get you to watch, it features a great soundtrack, upbeat soap opera style plot lines, and enough classical music references to satisfy anyone with a fancy for Mozart, Beethoven, or Gluck. Sign up for Comcast XFINITY Internet Plans to watch these Amazon Prime original series anytime you want!