LIE TO ME
Read pages 63-65 of the “Lie to Me” teleplay and compare it with the filmed ending of the show. The previous scene ends at the top of page 63 with Lightman telling Torres “Believe whatever you want. It’s what everyone else does,” but after that, the final sequence in your screenplay is completely different from what was filmed.
The filmed ending is certainly shorter, but it also exposes very different information about Cal Lightman’s personality and his relationships than the written ending did. The filmed ending also cuts out the additional “resolution” of Melissa subplot offered by the script. Why do you think that the producers decided that the revised ending (as filmed) was better?
In your response, consider what you’ve learned about the characters from this 50 minute story and how the ending(s) suggest new directions for them. You may also want to consider the fact that this episode was a TV series pilot in which the producers wanted to tell a complete story that would satisfy the audience while also intriguing them enough to tune in see how the characters would change.
Try to stick to your observations about characters and story and try to set aside any personal feelings that you have about which ending is “better”. If you feel there are compelling reasons that the producers should have used the original written ending instead, please feel free to add those to your response, but make sure that you devote at least a paragraph to discussing reasons why the filmed ending was more the more effective choice.
Between watching the episode and reading through the “alternate ending” in the script, I find that the choices made at the behest of the writers, editors and producers made for a complete single- episode story arc of Dr. Lightman (and company)’s journey of who he is/they are, what their area of expertise concerns and the main conflict that centers on how this collective expertise exactly works (which cues the audience in familiarizing with what the show’s tone, genre and general idea of what “Lie to Me” is all about – a.k.a. the synopsis). Given that this was a pilot episode with the intention to have the series get picked up by a network, the amount of exposition was not surprising; the level of storytelling and characters, on the other hand, I felt was very detailed and layered. With the main conflict focusing on the murder of Ms.
McCartney and the side conflict dealing with Congressman Weil’s sex scandal, the latter’s ending being different in the filmed version leads the audience to see Dr. Lightman as a professional in reading lies, to paraphrase, without any emotional repercussions (seemingly) in contrast to the script that reveals more. There, Lightman openly admits to have sinned upon talking with the priest as if to tell us that all his work did more hurt and than help given that in this version, the congressman admits to his wrongdoing in public. In the filmed version, this is not shown and the ending there is ambiguous.
Because this is a pilot, the intention (as I can tell by the direction) is to have Lightman be this “cool,” stoic character, a guise that would undoubtedly be carried in the full series since his relationship with Dr. Foster and Torres would make for a solid team capable in tackling more crimes dealing with advanced body language reading. But looking at the alternate ending, it really is implied that Dr. Lightman struggles with wanting to go any further in his work given his emotional response to seeing how he exposed a congressman to admit his publicly admit his faults (even if such was wrong, the disgrace Lightman caused due to getting the truth from him makes for a character that we feel sympathy for, but leaves a questionable future in his career, hence the show we see as a result of the filmed version).
However. I do not think that having the alternate ending would’ve been necessarily the dead end for the show being green-lit and having to continue from there. I would like to think that Lightman’s perceived hesitance in wanting to do his job would reveal an inner struggle in: is it right to pressure people into telling the truth (at the expense of evoking emotion such as when Lightman lied to Jacquelin to get her to confess about the murder) or should hard evidence be used to lessen this the guilt? I might add that this would be an interesting angle that the show would’ve taken since some professionals in real-life crime-solving are known to crack.