Reviewing a crime drama like Apple TV+’s Truth Be Told is tricky. It has one job: to keep you guessing while building up interest in its characters. The show almost does this, but forgets to deliver an original plot. It is as frustrating as it sounds.
Read on safely, as this is a spoiler-free review of Apple TV+’s Truth Be Told.
The show is a whodunnit based on the re-investigation of a 19-year old murder. The lead, Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer), is a journalist who helped put away the alleged criminal (Aaron Paul). The story is one of guilt, cliffhangers, and secrets you’ve seen several times before.
Octavia Spencer doesn’t fit
With Oscar winner Octavia Spencer starring, the consensus was that this show was in the Apple TV+ bag. So, it comes as a massive surprise that in over 90 minutes of streaming, the actress comes across as clunky.
With each 45-minute episode, this show needed someone who could turn plot cliches into high energy. One can’t help but think Truth Be Told would be better if How to Get Away with Murder‘s Viola Davis starred.
Fortunately, Spencer is rarely on screen alone. Her supporting cast including Michael Beach (husband), Mekhi Phifer (investigator), and Brett Cullen (officer), who often help drive scenes through cliche bumps.
Filler breaks the show
The show creator Nichelle D. Tramble (The Good Wife) tries to deliver on a wide range of topics throughout, from racism to mental health. It’s probably this overreach that caused cliches to creep into the main plot.
Despite this negativity, the show isn’t bad. Performances from Aaron Paul (the alleged criminal) and Lizzy Caplan (victim’s daughter) are fantastic. When they’re on screen, Truth Be Told has a change of pace that even drives Spencer’s performance.
Perhaps, if the show focused on the investigation and dropped all the other plot points, the performance of the lead wouldn’t get stuck on its filler. The irony of this show is that it has fantastic cliffhangers that pull you back in despite its issues. This is why it makes the chill list.
Truth Be Told review: Chill
- Streaming on Apple TV+
- Created by Nichelle D. Tramble
- Starring Octavia Spencer, Aaron Paul, and Lizzy Caplan
Pre-The Mandalorian, the idea of a 30-minute episode for a TV drama caused shock and horror. Now, having sat through more than 90 minutes of Truth Be Told, less is definitely more.
The show’s biggest issue is that it has nowhere to go for originality. It needed a compelling lead to drive it forward, and it doesn’t have that. It’s reliant on everyone else, which makes some scenes awkward. In short, if it wasn’t for a few moments of quality, including the podcast narration sequences and cliffhangers, this show would be in the kill list.
The review will be revisited once all episodes are available. Until then, check out this other content:
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- The Irishman review: An Oscar Best Picture favorite
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