May 14, 2014

NIELSENWAR 2014-15 Trailer Review: “Secrets and Lies”


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THE FACTS:  Another ABC murder soap, this one starring Ryan Phillippe as a man who finds the body of a neighbor’s child in the woods, KaDee Strickland as his wife, and Juliette Lewis as the homicide detective who thinks he’s the killer.  It’s based on an Australian format, with the US version created by Barbie Kligman, who’s been a writer/producer on shows like Private Practice and The Vampire Diaries.

WHAT IT’S SAYING:  An hour of tension and scandal, anchored by Phillippe’s star presence in an ordinary-man role, with Juliette Lewis playing a character much straighter than almost everything she’s ever done.

WHAT IT’S REALLY SAYING:  The trailer pushes Ryan Phillippe’s star power in a big way, but–not to be unkind to the actor–it’s not clear that he really has a lot of name value these days.  The plotline being conveyed is also surprisingly one note, as though there’s nothing here beyond the question of whether Phillippe’s character is guilty or not.  To sustain a series for 10 hours (the size of this order), there’s going to have to be more going on.

THE OUTLOOK:  With FOX’s Gracepoint airing in the fall, and ABC’s own American Crime in the spring, how much appetite is there going to be for another grim drama in the same general subgenre?  On the other hand, while we don’t know where ABC plans to schedule Secrets and Lies, it certainly fits the network profile.  Barring some more substance than the trailer suggests, this looks like a marginal play up or down.

About the Author

Mitch Salem
MITCH SALEM has worked on the business side of the entertainment industry for 20 years, as a senior business affairs executive and attorney for such companies as NBC, ABC, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and BermanBraun Productions, and before that, at the NY law firm of Weil, Gotshal & Manges. During all that, he has more or less constantly been going to the movies and watching TV, and writing about both since the 1980s. His film reviews also currently appear on and In addition, he is co-writer of an episode of the television series "Felicity."