Like NBC's The Slap, ABC's Secrets & Lies is based on an Australian miniseries whose American adaptation seems to be missing something in translation. It's not quiet as egregious, though, as Fox's Gracepoint, which was a much less compelling, shot-for-shot remake of the UK's Broadchurch (yet another crime series revolving around a child's death). But while the impulse to make these crime miniseries -- which likely have come from the success of True Detective's engrossing and finite storytelling -- is admirable, the results aren't quite up to par. Secrets & Lies revolves around the mysterious death of a young boy, whose body is found early one morning by a close neighbor, Ben Crawford (Ryan Phillippe), out for a jog. But Ben's attempts to resuscitate the child and alert the police end up making him less of a Good Samaritan, and more of a prime suspect. Like Broadchurch and its ilk, Secrets & Lies uses a murder to begin a slow deconstruction of the lives of everyone connected to the victim. Shaky marriages, fights, affairs, and everything else all start to be revealed through the investigation, led here by a single-minded Detective Andrea Cornell (Juliette Lewis), whose steely gaze and silent observations the camera follows a little too closely (and obviously). One of the things that made Broadchurch so compelling was the strength of its acting, which really spoke to the horror and emotional depths of what happens when a child is murdered. Secrets & Lies, though, chooses to focus more on the twists ...

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February 28, 2015