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The streaming game is more competitive than ever this winter with the debut of Truth Be Told on Apple TV+, with the cast including Hidden Figures' Octavia Spencer, Breaking Bad's Aaron Paul, and Chicago P.D.'s Michael Beach. The drama will revolve around a decades-old murder and the investigation into what might have really happened. That said, Truth Be Told will stand out from crime dramas like Chicago P.D. and others, as Michael Beach shared in a recent chat with CinemaBlend.
Michael Beach, who made his Chicago P.D. debut as crime boss Darius Walker a few months before the launch of Truth Be Told on Apple TV+, said this when asked what sets Truth Be Told apart on the small screen:
I think the first thing is that it's not like a police drama or anything like that. We don't have professional teams running around, carrying guns, stuff like that. It's much more of a show about relationships and about families and about how they can be broken apart and torn apart if we really aren't paying attention to the truth. If we're not being honest. In this particular show there are quite a few families being negatively affected by what happened in one family.
Truth Be Told is based on a novel by Kathleen Barber that tells the story of journalist and professional podcaster Poppy Parnell (Octavia Spencer) who made her name on a murder case, but new evidence leads her to suspect that she may have helped put the wrong man (Aaron Paul) in prison. Michael Beach plays Ingram Rhoades, a distinguished attorney who went against his family's wishes to marry Poppy and became Poppy's rock, which will undoubtedly come in handy when Truth Be Told starts getting twisty.
So, beween Poppy the journalist, Ingram the lawyer, and former Oakland Police Department detective Markus Killebrew (Mekhi Phifer), Truth Be Told on Apple TV+ has pretty much all the boxes of a traditional law and order TV show checked, but Truth Be Told will have more of an emphasis on families and relationships than SWAT teams racing across rooftops, shootouts, and more of what viewers have come to expect from franchises like One Chicago and NCIS on network TV.
Michael Beach, who also worked on Swamp Thing on DC Universe before jumping to a different streaming service for Truth Be Told, explained the contrast between working on streaming TV and network TV:
I think the work is the same. We get the script, we break it down, we shot the [Truth Be Told] scenes in a pretty traditional way. So I don't feel as if, like when I'm doing Chicago P.D. right now, I think being on the network and that show in particular we're really trying to focus on the relationships between the characters and even though something like Chicago P.D. is much more standard network TV, I think even network TV now in some cases is trying to compete with the fact that streaming services are getting so strong that they need to up their game a little bit. So I felt when I was on Chicago P.D., on Swamp Thing, on Apple, that I was still part of something that was really trying to be aggressively actor story oriented. I felt comfortable, I felt good, I felt like I was doing something that was not just kinda shlock.
While streaming series like Truth Be Told (and the cancelled-too-soon Swamp Thing) certainly release differently than broadcast network series like Chicago P.D., the work to make the shows is quite similar. That's not to say, however, that a show like Truth Be Told or Swamp Thing could necessarily air on a traditional network.
Viewers will have to wait and see what Truth Be Told has in store, but streaming platforms can afford projects more freedom and fewer lines that can't be crossed than networks. You won't catch Darius Walker and Hank Voight throwing F-bombs at each other on Chicago P.D., and the subject matter at the center of Truth Be Told indicates that episodes could get pretty heavy.
NBC will almost certainly never air a series dropping F-bombs or really going much further than P.D. goes, which is already significantly darker than the other two One Chicago shows. But could NBC shows and shows on other networks continue to shift to find ways to compete with streamers? Apple TV+ isn't the only service making bold moves this year.
Michael Beach also shared some of the advantages of streaming TV shows:
TV is changing so much because we're used to the traditional 22-24 episodes where oftentimes you start running out of ideas. It's like, 'Oh, we kind of did that story, don't you remember? Blah blah blah?' But with streaming, we cut down the number of episodes, 8, 10, 12, so it's much more concentrated and I think it's much more story-driven than event-driven. And it's also you can be seen all over the world pretty much at the exact same time, whenever you want. But in terms of how we shot it, it's pretty traditional. You don't feel like, 'Oh, I'm on a streaming service show as opposed to a network show.' Outside of the fact that I think the content is a little bit more provocative and you could take a little bit more risks and chances than a network show.
Seasons of TV with shorter runs than 20+ episodes do tend to be less procedural and focus more on twists and relationships that will have consequences, for better or worse. Truth Be Told will run for eight episodes, with the first three installments releasing on Friday, December 6 on Apple TV+. Following the supersized premiere, new episodes will release Fridays on one of the newest and most original streaming services.
Be sure to tune in to see Michael Beach in his new role as Ingram Rhoades while Chicago P.D. is on winter hiatus before returning to NBC to pay off on that huge Halstead cliffhanger in 2020. Beach has already teased that some "shocking stuff" is on the way with P.D., and a whole lot of other worthy series will debut soon. Our 2020 winter and spring premiere schedule can give you all the dates you need.