Eight of TV's toughest interrogators
by Allison Waldman, posted Aug 26th 2009 10:00AM
The fine art of interrogation may seem lost thanks to suspects lawyering up and the Miranda warning. Whatever happened to the days when a snarling cop could throw a perp against a brick wall to get him to squeal? Or a sly questioner could finagle a confession by laying on a guilt trip? Still, there are some very clever, brilliant interrogators plying their trade on these days. In fact, when you look at these eight interrogators, you'll probably agree that they know just how to get to the truth. Here are the eight top interrogators on TV today:
8. Captain James Brass, CSI
Brass is the most "old school" of all these interrogators. He's like Andy Sipowicz from NYPD Blue, only without the violence. Brass talks to suspects with a modicum of respect, but a healthy cynicism. He's seen it all and knows the truth is in there somewhere. He asks questions and waits for them to trip themselves up. When they do, he has them write it down. Despite the laconic attitude, Brass has the brass to get the job done.
7. Detective Robert Goren, L&O: CI
Intensity personified, Bobby Goren is like a brilliant chess master. He analyzes a case, deciphers clues, and gets inside the head of the criminal. Goren uses the powers of his mind more than intimidation or cajoling to get a suspect to reveal the truth. Sometimes he comes close to going too far with his intuition, especially within the confines of the NYPD, but Goren has proven that he's very good at interrogation.
6. Patrick Jane, The Mentalist
With his background as a fake psychic, Patrick Jane has highly developed observational skills. Like he is prone to say, he pays attention. Those skills, similar to Cal Lightman, make it easy for Jane to spot a liar. He also has a lot of the same charm that Brenda Johnson exudes, although Patrick is more of a smart aleck. But his smile is very disarming and often helps him get to the truth.
5. Sam Axe, Burn Notice
There are a myriad of scams and cons that Sam has employed in his days with the FBI that make him truly expert at interrogation. With Michael and Fiona, Sam is adept at playing different roles in these games. Whether it's faking someone into think his buddy has ratted him out, or making a baddie believe he's about to be thrown out of a fifth floor window, Sam succeeds in getting the information he needs ... in between beers or mojitos.
4. Deputy Chief Brenda Leigh Johnson, The Closer
Chief Johnson has the constraints of the law when she's interrogating a suspect, and while she may bend the rules, she rarely breaks them. No, the secret of her success as the ultimate closer -- the one who can get a confession -- is her Southern charm and courtesy. She kills 'em with kindness, gets friendly, wheedles and cajoles. Brenda's style may seem obvious, but she's clever and wily.
3. Gregory House, M.D, House
Technically speaking, House doesn't really interrogate the way these others do. However, he is seeking the truth when trying to diagnose disease, and in his quest for the cure, he's unrelenting in questioning the patient. House cynically assumes that everyone lies, so for him there's advantage from the get-go. Still, few can hold up to House when he's dug in and on the case.
2. Cal Lightman, Lie to Me
How can anyone hope to lie to Dr. Lightman? He's a superb interrogator because he cannot be fooled. His attention to the most insignificant facial expressions, gestures and such makes him very much a human lie detector. Oh, sure, he has every computer and facial recognition software at his disposal, but a lot of his brilliance is all in his head.
1. Sayid Jarrah, Lost
Is there really any doubt that Sayid is the most adept interrogator in this group? It could be because he's the most ruthless and determined. His training with the Iraqi Republican Guard has taught him well, even though he rejects using those heinous skills. Nevertheless, when pressed into duty, Sayid's forms of torture would make anyone talk.