Everyone has encountered one of these tough beings -- human lie detectors. Usually they are women, and for hapless youth they are often mothers and teachers.
They can tell by the slightest crinkle in an eyebrow or waver in a voice that the truth has just left the building. They know by the dots of sweat appearing over the lip, the inability to make eye contact or the sudden affliction of grinning like a monkey that lies are being told.
They know and once they know, they swoop in for the kill. Unfortunately, the prey is a kid who just lied about where she was or claims to have no idea where that $20 on the table went.
For a parent, this is a most worthwhile skill; for an FBI agent, it's an invaluable one. Coupled with Superman's nerve and a cowboy's swagger, such an agent would be dangerous. It becomes far more effective when the guilty assume an agent who looks like Abigail Spencer ("All My Children"), a beautiful brunette, would not enjoy nabbing them.
Spencer stars as the truth-seeking agent in Lifetime's "Angela's Eyes," an hourlong drama series premiering Sunday, July 16.
"A very small percentage of the population has this sort of ability," Dan McDermott, creator and executive producer, says. "In a high percentage of these people, there tends to be a trauma in childhood."
Angela Henson certainly experienced that.
"As it goes on, you will meet the mother and the brother, and you will see why Angela has become the way she is," Spencer says. "I personally think she is a girl who was in a great family. She's really smart, and when she was 14, it was brought to her attention she was lied to every day of her life. For four years, she fought for her parents. Her father was not working for the software company, and her mother was not being a stay-at-home mom but working for other governments. At 18, when she made a decision to estrange herself from her parents, something kicked in."
The pilot does a decent job of introducing this complicated character. Angela's uncanny talent has her face down a terrorist, even when he cocks a gun to her forehead. Luckily, she does not work alone.
She is partnered with two men, Leo (Lyriq Bent, "Four Brothers") and Dozer (Joe Cobden, "Human Trafficking"), a techno-geek. Their boss, Gene (Rick Roberts, "L.A. Doctors"), tries to rein in Angela, essentially a futile task.
Each episode has three components. "There is one case every week," McDermott says. "The second is Angela's personal life, dating and friends. And the third is the mythology, the backstory of her parents and what is happening now. What sets us apart is the latter two. There are lots of 'CSI' and others on air. We have the opportunity to spend 30 to 40 minutes of each episode on the personal life."
In the pilot, a wife goes missing. Of course the husband is the prime suspect, but Angela knows he is not guilty. They find the wife and figure out her secret life.
Also, Angela's father, Colin Anderson (Boyd Gaines, "The Sure Thing"), is introduced as the country's top spy -- in prison.
"Here is this woman with a tragic backstory and history," McDermott says. "What would it be like if your parents were the Rosenbergs?"
Angela appears to have made peace with her family predicament, but that seems unlikely, as she never smiles and she looks ready to pounce on everyone.
"When we pick up on Angela we realize that maybe the truth isn't what she thought it was and maybe the truth isn't so black and white," Spencer says. "She is so put together and so good at her job, and everything starts to fall apart. She changed her name in college and has been able to keep everyone at bay."
Naturally, she still yearns for a personal life. In the first episode, Angela's boyfriend is Peter (Peter Hermann). He, however, may not be around for long because she bugs his cell phone.
Angela may be a crack FBI agent, but she is not completely at ease with herself.
"You are going to see a woman's life be totally turned upside down, and you are going to see her try to stay ahead of it," Spencer says. "I feel that way taking this job and moving to Toronto and trying to stay true to the work. And you try to stay ahead of it but can't, and you want to control it, but you can't. And you will see a woman have to face herself and her family for the first time and will have to make decisions about what is important on many levels. You will see her have to decide: What is the truth for Angela? That is the journey for her. Is she willing to compromise?"
"This show has this family mystery that will override [weekly plots] and not be answered," Spencer says. "And you will find a new clue every episode. For people like me who love 'Lost,' you want to know what happens next."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times