September 25, 2016

SHOWBUZZDAILY Season Premiere Review: “Secrets & Lies”


SECRETS & LIES – Sunday 9PM on ABC – Change the Channel

Everything about the return of ABC’s SECRETS & LIES feels a bit off.  Even the scheduling of the quasi-anthology series (different stories and characters, except for the connecting presence of Juliette Lewis as stern lead detective Andrea Cornell) is odd–the series took off the entire 2015-16 season, and will only air for 10 weeks this fall.  That might have made sense for a high-profile stunt miniseries that was going to give a boost to the night, but Secrets hardly qualifies as that.

The plotline devised by US series creator Barbie Kligman for Season 2 (Season 1 followed the format of an Australian series) seems on the basis of the premiere hour to be extremely conventional.  Beautiful and pregnant Kate Warner (Jordana Brewster) has plunged off the roof of her husband Eric’s (Michael Ealy) office building, on the very night of the party where Eric’s father John (Terry O’Quinn) was handing over the keys of the company to his son.  Eric also has a party-loving brother Patrick (Charlie Barnett) who’s married to Melanie (AnnaLynne McCord, billed as a guest star) and a serious lawyer sister Amanda (Mekia Cox), and everyone including Kate works at the family company, as does Eric’s best friend Neal (Eric Winter), who wins the premiere’s Instant Suspect award.

We’re only an episode in, and Kligman’s plotting already seems clumsy.  Cornell is apparently so bad at her job that a day after the murder, her people hadn’t even searched Kate’s office, and thus didn’t discover that her desk had been broken into and that she had a secret second iPad.  Intrigue was intended to be created by reveals from the past:  Kate had at some point given birth to a baby, and Eric had served time in juvie related to a death.  There’s also some mystery about the siblings’s mother, from whom they’re apparently all estranged.  None of this is particularly grabby.  The presence of such a familiar TV cast doesn’t help incur much excitement either:  almost all the major cast members have been making the rounds for so long that they’ve even been on each other’s series, with McCord and Cox both on the 90210 reboot, and Brewster and McCord both veterans of the rebooted Dallas.  Adam Arkin’s direction is smooth enough, and apparently didn’t aim higher.

The ABC Sunday line-up has been suffering, with finales last May that barely topped the 1 rating level.  Nothing in the lackluster return of Secrets & Lies suggests the kind of punch the night needs, unless Kligman and company have some true surprises up their sleeves.

NETWORK FINAL:  Keep it To Yourself

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."