TV Shows »Suburban Secrets

suburban secretsIt's nearly impossible not to compare TruTV's Suburban Secrets with A&E's far superior City Confidential, the greatest true crime show ever put on television. Both focus on the community and people effected by a crime and both include a smug, slightly humorous narration.

City excelled thanks to the late, great Paul Winfield's extremely wry and sardonic voice and an hour long running time. 60 minutes always gave the producers ample time to develop extremely compelling portraits of the towns and cities they profiled, and the often unique denizens that reside there.

Grudgingly, I have to admit that Suburban Secrets' faults also make it pretty enjoyable, if you're willing to forgive, or at least forget, the network's cancellation of City Confidential (what happened, Arts and Entertainment network?! Gene Simmons needed a bigger budget? Criss Angel needed some more semi-competent After Effects artists and a new handcuff necklace?), and enjoy this new, dumbed-down, punned-up version for what it is.

First off: it's only 30 minutes long which, while the reduced running time hurts the storytelling, it does make it the prefect length for dinner time viewing.

Second, and most entertaining, is the way the producers cajole actual locals into recreating dramatic scenes like the first time they heard about the murder or the day everyone in the office was speculating as to who had done it. These clearly excited but decidedly untrained folks often come off a bit uncomfortable (almost every episode features a bevy of gossipy women exclaiming, “Well, I never!” over tea and knitting while their eyes dart nervously around the room), but the end result is brilliant.

It takes the age old art of the dramatic recreation, so beloved for its cornball genius on shows like Ripley's Believe It or Not or America's Most Wanted, and makes it new again.

And if I can't have new episodes of City Confidential (as you can tell,?I still have not forgiven or forgotten), I'll take this much slighter, but undeniably entertaining alternative.

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Posted on August 25, 2008

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