Heather's TV Review: The Lying Game
Is it possible for the best of intentions to spiral out of control? That's the premise behind the winter premiere episodes of ABC Family's The Lying Game, which had some interesting results.
The Lying Game followed identical twins Sutton Mercer and Emma Becker (Alexandra Chando) who switched identities to find their birth mother, but they kept hitting constant problems along the way. Mainly, they come from Sutton's godfather Alec Rybak (Adrian Pasdar) who is heavily involved in Sutton and Emma's questionable adoptions. He was willing to prevent them from learning the truth. He might be somehow responsible in Sutton's recent disappearance. A few people are aware that Emma is pretending to be Sutton, including her ex and Emma's new boyfriend Ethan Whitehorse (Blair Redford). Their relationship is partially why Sutton was on a mission for revenge right before she disappeared. Sutton's disappearance is totally lost on her sister Laurel (Allie Gonino) and her friends Char Chamberlin (Kirsten Prout) and Mads (Alice Greczyn) who all have problems of their own. Laurel is involved with her first serious boyfriend with a mysterious past that could get her into trouble. Mads is Alec's daughter and is forced to live under his controlling household. Char's Aunt Rebecca (Charisma Carpenter) came into town with an agenda of her own. How does she tie in with Sutton/Emma's family secret?
In terms of plot, The Lying Game's upped the ante for the second half of the season's episodes with Sutton's disappearance and the secrets surrounding it. The mysteries and scheming added a separate layer that made it different from the other ABC Family show Pretty Little Liars. While Liars also had scheming people, Game's was set in a much higher tax bracket with some serious sibling issues involved.
The show's initial weakness was trying to balance the adult and teenage storylines with equal interest. The teen cast members are still getting the larger focus, but the adults have received a nice boost with the arrival of Carpenter's newcomer who returned to Phoenix with a secret agenda. Her tension filled scenes with Pasdar brought an interesting dynamic and gave Alec someone to truly spar with. The tension filled relationship between Sutton's adoptive parents Ted (Andy Buckley) and Kristin (Helen Slater) is a house of cards waiting to happen when Ted's secrets are revealed sooner or later. Slater gives Kristin a sweet naive persona while Buckley gives Ted a nervous edge as his world spirals out of control. While the adults add an extra level of complication to Game, it's primarily Chando's show as she balanced the roles of Emma and Sutton with reasonable ease. She has more of a challenge as Emma, because she mostly spent each episode having to be two people at the same time. Hopefully, future episodes will give Chando a chance to reveal that Sutton is more than a mean girl in nice clothing. Now, that will be a game worth watching.
The Lying Game premiered on January 2nd and airs Mondays at 9:00 pm on ABC Family.
Verdict: A show that mixed scheming and relationships with equal measure.
TV Score: 3.5 out of 5 stars
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)