Since the first incarnation of Making a Murderer way back in 2016, it would seem that you can’t flip on the TV without being assaulted by an endless stream of murder docs and real-life whodunnits.
We’ve had some great Making a Murderer-genre shows like The Jinx and The Staircase to keep our brains fizzling with theory and conjecture, while newbies like The Keepers and Evil Genius have raised the bar by leading us down increasingly compelling and ever darkening alleyways. It would seem that we can’t get enough, but that doesn’t mean to say that all these shows are any good, here are five true-crime docs that miss the mark or just get it completely and utterly wrong.
Out of Thin Air
This offing from Iceland isn’t all bad, but it prattles on, going round and around the turf houses before returning you to the same spot you were when it began almost an hour and a half ago. The intriguing premise of how two men vanished over forty years ago with six young men sort-of confessing to their murder leaves the viewer feeling, er, cold. That’s not entirely the fault of the film which is beautifully made, it’s the ongoing story itself.
Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses
It has ‘possession’ in the title, but this isn’t some pseudo-doc about things that go bump in the night, it’s the tragic tale of a family in New Zealand who decide to treat a young mother’s psychosis with an ill-fated ‘exorcism’, as one does. The documentary aspect of the film is all well and good, but the dramatic re-enactments are too divisive and steer the audience away from the fact a young woman was horribly tortured to death by the very people that should have been protecting her… Oh, spoiler alert.
Serial Killer/Hitman Richard Kuklinski - The Iceman
Professional hitpersons (I imagine non-gender specific people engage in paid-for-assassination too, folks) are not ‘serial killers’ because they murder for money, not for kicks. Anyway, apart from some of the baffling comments under the video, this cheapo YouTube documentary about Richard Kuklinski is really, really boring. If they edited out the long, awkward pauses, we could get the 3.24.21 time down to about 20 mins. Even ‘The Iceman’, a 2012 movie based on his life makes for better viewing and that stars Winona Ryder.
Making a Murderer: Season two
Maybe the original master of true-crime documentary TV has been usurped by its crime-doc pupils, or perhaps the whole format is becoming a bit tired and hackneyed? Though I don’t think so, in fact, I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface. So, what we have here is a seemingly pointless re-revisit to a grimy little area in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, home to Steven Avery and his nephew Brendan Dassey, currently serving out sentences for murder.
In Season one we meet Steven Avery, a man who is in the process of suing the authorities after serving 18 years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit when, in a twist of fate, he’s charged, tried and convicted for the murder of a photographer called Teresa Holback; then, out of the blue, his bewildered nephew is also charged with Holback’s murder but, unlike Avery, the 16-year-old ‘admits’ guilt, which in turn has implications for his uncle fighting for a re-trial, which is all rather shocking.
However, season two is less about Avery and Dassey (still both inside) and more about how the US Justice system fails vulnerable members of society, which is infuriating, tedious and dull. Can’t wait for season three when Brendan Dassey is accused of bursting the housing bubble and triggering the subprime mortgage crisis.
Killer Women with Piers Morgan
It’s an actual TV show? Perhaps better known as being a close, personal friend of Donald Trump than the former editor of The Sun, alleged phone hacker etc., Mr. Morgan takes us deep into the ego of Piers Morgan as he talks at some incarcerated women that may/may not have committed murder. The subject matter is sensationalist enough to inspire cursory glances at the TV while you’re worming the dog, but this is just the Piers Morgan show and is about as deep as, well, Piers Morgan. Still, Killer Women with Piers Morgan (try typing it, it’s really weird) was broadcast on both ITV and Netflix in the UK, so what do I know?