First Impressions

Secrets and Lies

Airing On: ABC

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


                I like Ryan Phillippe's acting and feel we don't see quite enough from him.  So when I saw previews for a new ABC drama called Secrets and Lies, I couldn't wait to check it out.  It helped that the show aired on Sunday, March 1, 2015 at 9pm EST, right after one of my favorites, Once Upon a Time.  Also helping - Juliette Lewis as a police detective, quite a different role than I am used to seeing her in.

                Based on the Australian series of the same name, the premiere episode of Secrets and Lies (two episodes aired on March 1st) opens with Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe) running through the woods at top speed.  He ends up in a quiet neighborhood and, as he runs past houses, screams for help.  Christmas decorations on lawns and houses lead the viewer to believe that it's Christmas time.  Viewers like myself will find themselves wondering why he doesn't just start banging on doors, especially when he runs to his house and looks for a phone

                The next thing we see is a crime scene in the woods.  At its center, a very young boy we later learned is named Tom (Aiden Malik).  As the show progresses, we learn that Ben went for a run in the woods, came upon his neighbor Jess' (Natalie Martinez) son, Tom, and tried to help him.  According to Ben, Tom was already dead, bleeding from a wound on the back of his head.  Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis) is assigned to the case.

                From the start, Detective Cornell is suspicious of Ben, coming across Tom's dead body the way he did.  To make matters worse, Ben's answers to the detective's questions don't quite match what others have told her.  That's because Ben can't remember details from the previous night.  After having an argument with his wife, Ben went out with his down-on-his-luck friend Dave (Dan Folger) and got severely drunk.  So drunk in fact that he has no memory of even how he got home, much less what he did afterwards.

                Though Ben's initial actions appear suspicious, I knew right away that he was innocent of murder, but guilty of something.  Turns out, I was right.  About twenty minutes into the premiere episode, I already had it figured out - Ben had an affair with Jess and, though he didn't know it, Ben was Tom's father.  But Detective Cornell isn't about to back down - especially after finding out that little tidbit.  She has her sights set on Ben as being guilty, despite Jess' belief that her post traumatic stress syndrome suffering ex may have had something to do with Tom's murder.  (I predicted the same as well after a casual comment between neighbors regarding this ex and how he hasn't been seen much lately.)

                While I loved Ryan Phillippe's brooding moments and his gut-wrenching sobs as it all finally hits him, I can't say the same about other performances in Secrets and Lies.  Juliette Lewis is a dead fish in this series.  There is no real emotion in the deadpan, stern way she presents this character.  Instead of seeing Cornell as a detective who's hell-bent on catching a killer she views as a monster, all viewers see is a supreme bitch with a fixation issue and a will to do whatever it takes to prove Ben did this crime because she says he did.  Even Natalie Martinez, pretty decent in other things I've seen her in, has no real screen presence here.  You end up not really caring about her character and wondering if maybe SHE had something to do with her son's murder.

                As the second episode began, I realized that I was bored.  I was tired of Detective Cornell - a real turnoff of a character -  and bored with the story altogether.  I didn't even feel like watching the rest and ended up turning Secrets and Lies off after about fifteen minutes.  There's no way I'll be watching this series each week unless there is nothing else on Sundays at 9pm EST. 


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