I decided to give the show another chance, because like I said last week, it has to be really bad for me to stop watching after one episode. This is a miniseries, but as Myles McNutt wrote a few weeks ago, broadcast networks in the United States, and now Australia, are increasingly branding miniseries as ‘television events’.
This doesn’t seem to have worked for Ten. The premiere of Secrets and Lies was up against at least the end of My Kitchen Rules, and the Monday night show attracted 2.1 million viewers – nearly 10% of Australia’s population. I tweeted earlier today that for a television event, Secrets and Lies is unremarkable. It’s also incredibly predictable. Maybe I’m just a television snob, and the fact that I’m finally watching The Wire makes everything else pale in comparison, but I don’t think that’s it. I just have nothing to say about this show, which is terrible because I’m trying to write 1000 words on each episode.
The basic premise of this show is that because Ben is the main suspect in the murder, his life is being interrupted and he tries to solve it himself. Great. Finally the cast has expanded beyond Ben’s family and the weird woman who may have a crush on him. She wasn’t in it this week. The episode picks up where it left off, and Ben is over at Jess’ house where she tells him that she think her estranged husband killed their son. So Ben tries to track down Paul for most the episode and ends up being followed by some of his army pals. It turns out that even though Paul wasn’t allowed to visit Tom, Tasha (Ben’s oldest daughter and Tom’s babysitter) let him visit while she was babysitting. So that’s one of the secrets and/or lies. I don’t know which is which. It’s probably just a catchy title.
The other secrets/lies are that Ben is Tom’s biological father! It was pretty obvious that he had a thing for Jess at some point, so this isn’t entirely surprising because we’re watching television. Also Ben’s wife Christy got a piece of jewellery from a university classmate who is probably her lover. That’s about it. I hope her lover is a woman. Go for the slightly less predictable route.
Now for the case: It seems that in the space between this week and last week, the police determined that the murder weapon was a torch! If you want to see anything from the police perspective however, you have to watch the online content. I’ll get to that later. Anyway, the detective shows up at the Gundelach house and asks Ben if he owns a heavy torch like any of the ones depicted in six different pictures (I’m guessing with that number, but I think it was six). Christy replies that the family gave him one as a gift. So, they go to Ben’s van and open the box where the torch normally is and it’s missing. It would hardly be a mystery show otherwise. Another webisode (or online clue) reveals that someone borrowed some tools from Ben which may or may not have included the torch.
Here’s my main problem with the show at the moment. We, the viewers, have zero evidence to prove that Ben didn’t murder Tom, other than that he must be innocent because he’s trying to track down the murderer himself. And this is the design of the show, because they want us to think Ben is at least a suspect if not the main suspect. But they can’t have it both ways. I’m getting frustrated with Ben, who is going around and following people who will beat him up if he doesn’t leave, and at the same time the show wants me to feel bad for him because he’s being harrassed by the media and the situation is difficult for the family, particularly his younger daughter. If the show wants me to be invested in this character and what he does, he needs to stop making stupid decisions and give some hint of his innocence, even if it’s a red herring. It could even be evidence pointing towards another character as the main suspect, which so far includes Paul. Tasha’s just a regular teenager, and if Christy is cheating on Paul, that’s no reason for her to kill a boy.
The police are also fairly minor. As I mentioned earlier, the investigation seems to take place entirely on the webisodes, which is due to the show taking Ben’s perspective. They worked out what the murder weapon was in the first webisode and interviewed some people in the second one. I can’t really remember it. The layout of the website is also horrible, so unless someone was really into this show, I don’t think they’d bother looking at it. It’s really easy to look at the webisodes, because they’re on the front page of the website. There’s also a tab with the webisodes that takes you to the clues, but you can’t just read all the clues. If the clues are about a specific character, it’ll take you to their suspect page, and then you have to click your way back to where you wanted to be. I like the idea of an interactive whodunit, but it needs to be executed better. Only four episodes to go.
Lies and Secrets:
- I’ve already written about what the main secrets/lies were revealed this week, but they’ll probably be here from now on with anything else that doesn’t fit into the main review.
- In the United States version of this show, which is being co-produced by ABC Studios (we’re only just now entering pilot season, so we won’t know whether or not the show has been picked up until the upfronts, which I think are in April or May), the detective character has been gender-flipped and is a woman. I have no idea how straightforward an adaptation this is, but if it’s a fairly mainstream adaptation it doesn’t really make a difference, because the detective barely figures into this show anyway.
- Tom’s favourite song was the Brazilian national anthem, and I was quite disappointed that they chose not to play it at the funeral.