Third-episode verdict: Burden of Truth (Canada: CBC)

Scientifically surprising

Burden of Truth

In Canada: Wednesdays, 8pm, CBC

When Burden of Truth started, I did mock it a little. It sees big city lawyer Kristin Kreuk return to the small town where she grew up to deal with a claim that an HPV vaccine is making local girls sick. When she gets there, she soon finds:

  1. She’s not very popular not just because of what she’s trying to do but because her dad did something bad when he was in town
  2. The vaccine isn’t the real cause – something else is.

Soon, she’s deciding to switch sides and find out the true cause of the problem – so that she can sue the heck out of whoever’s causing it and stop people spitting at her whenever she walks past.

Anyway, I mocked it a bit, because firstly, we had ‘lawyer as epidemiologist’, with our Kristin apparently keen to do all the science herself. Secondly, we had such obvious emotional manipulation going on, together with an obvious romance being set up with small town boy turned lawyer Peter Mooney, that it felt like we were in the middle of a Hallmark Channel movie.

Oddly, though, the show has since decided it really is going to be about epidemiology. I mean really. Episode three actually had a hydrologist turn up. Not just for a couple of minutes to hand over a report, mind, but for the whole episode. He explains ground water flow and sources, he does experiments and tests. He drills holes.

Meanwhile, Kreuk seems to know – from previous cases, rather than Wikipedia – some actual law and some actual science: biology, chemistry, physics. She knows about benzene and its side effects. She’s coordinating everything, she’s looking at real-world implications for legal precedents, she’s acting like an actual professional with experience and skills.

Indeed, even by the end of episode three, the quest to find the true source of the problem afflicting everyone is still ongoing. This might take all season. This is… practical science and practical law. Gasp.

It’s like I started watching one of the Good Witch movies, only to discover that it was a guidebook to modern pagan rituals, complete with a discussion of the correct way to honour the triple goddess. It’s genuinely bewildering.


I’d probably keep watching on the strength of the science, in fact, were it not for the writing of these small town characters. They’re dumb. To be fair, so are the obvious moustache-twirling big city characters. It’s only Kreuk, Mooney and their contractors showing signs of mental capacity. Everyone else is either sketchy or on the verge of shouting out another emotive speech that explains Very Big Things. Or both.

And dumb is what they are.

So Burden of Truth‘s title wasn’t just an obvious play on words about its plot – it was actually a description of the show’s own problems with its characters, who have so much truth that they have to share it, obviously and frequently.

Barrometer rating: 2

The Barrometer for Burden of Truth