In a small town, dark secrets sure do have a way of getting out, don’t they? Such is the case in Secrets of Eden, premiering on the Lifetime network tomorrow night.
Based on the Chris Bohjalian best-seller, Eden stars Uncle Jesse—er, John Stamos, as Reverend Stephen Drew, a beloved Vermont minister whose world is rocked by the shocking murder-suicide of locals Alice and George Hayward (Sonya Salomaa and Graham Abbey). Though they seemed to be fastidiously observant parishioners and an upstanding couple, dark truths eventually emerge, including a clandestine affair between Stephen and Alice.
Anna Gunn of Breaking Bad plays Detective Catherine Benicasa, who hones in on the snazzily outfitted minister as the prime suspect. Meanwhile, the man of God must also grapple with a crisis of conscience and faith, as well as deal with Katie (Samantha Munro), the teenage daughter of the Haywards. Stephen also finds solace in Heather Laroche (Athena Karkanis), a woman who understands the pain Katie is enduring.
Blackie Parrish—er, Stamos acquits himself just fine in Eden, which strains credibility but never twists or turns in unexpected directions (Anne Meredith is credited with the adaptation). The actor’s natural charisma shines, and makes it clear why Alice would be attracted to him, and his scenes with both Munro and Karkanis have a reassuring gentility perfectly suited to the Lifetime audience.
But let’s be clear: this is not top-shelf material. Jake-in-Progress—er, Stamos—may have staked a career claim in television (the actor has entered his fourth decade in the medium, after all) but Gunn, such a vital presence and a seasoned performer, deserves richer material than her detective here. I’m glad to see the actress getting work, since with only one Breaking season to go, she’ll surely need it, but I hope the future brings better, more nuanced roles for the searing actress to portray.
Tawnia McKiernan (whose TV credits include the USA shows Burn Notice and Monk) directs with a steady hand. Eden may not reach high, but it certainly has its share of earthly pleasures
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