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Let's talk True Crime programs

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Let's talk True Crime programs

Old 12-02-17, 11:13 AM
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Let's talk True Crime programs

I know of one other member here, Mike86, who enjoys this genre. I'm a true-crime devotee, and have seen most series of this type.
As much as I cherish Unsolved Mysteries as possibly my favourite television show of all time, I think the gold standard of the genre is Forensic Files (nee Medical Detectives). It's more clinical and not as atmospheric as U.M., but no other true crime show gets into the nitty-gritty detail as thoroughly as Forensic Files, and that's something I appreciate greatly. It's not exploitative or flashy, but gratifyingly factual.
Other shows I adore - past and present - to slightly varying degrees include Born to Kill (which unfortunately seems to have ended); To Catch a Killer (an amazing show in which a team of expert investigators looked into unsolved Canadian murders; only ran one season, sadly); the original Cold Case Files (also the old American Justice, both shows produced and hosted by Bill Kurtis); On the Case with Paula Zahn (surprisingly excellent); Vanity Fair Confidential; Crime Investigation Australia, a riveting look at crimes Down Under, most unfamiliar to us over here; the British entry Real Crime; and Villains (wisely changed from the inane name Very Bad Men), which has an overwrought opening sequence, but is otherwise quite documentary-oriented.

I'm sure I'm missing a few excellent ones, but other shows I like but consider an echelon or two beneath the above-mentioned include Murder Book; Fear Thy Neighbor (compellingly told, but too reenactment-heavy); Murder Calls; Most Evil (no longer produced); Dark Minds (could've been great if it were not a vanity project for M. William Phelps); True Crime with Aphrodite Jones; Grave Secrets; Motives & Murders; Hear No Evil; Killer Confessions; and others I can't recall presently.

Among what I consider the dreck is America's Most Wanted (laudable for having captured so many baddies, and I watched it throughout its run, but a horribly-produced show in the worst Fox tradition); The Hunt (more John Walsh junk); The First 48 (each episode is practically a carbon copy of the last. I watched it for years, then couldn't stand the repetitiveness anymore); Lieutenant Kenda: Homicide Hunter (sorry Mike86), which is nothing but a show full of dramatizations, though I like Kenda himself; F2: Forensic Factor, a crap Canadian show (most Canadian T.C. series are, historically, trash); and some others I have forgotten.
The worst show of this ilk might be InJustice, an insufferably precious semi-animated Canadian show with unlistenably pretentious narration from a millennial girl with vocal fry, and virtually no factual material.


So, who else here is a true-crime fanatic? What are the shows you never miss, or would like to mention as worthy? What shows in this genre do you hate?

Last edited by Norm de Plume; 12-02-17 at 05:41 PM.
Old 12-02-17, 01:39 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

I've become a sucker for these shows thanks to the ID channel (it's a U.S. channel that shows this stuff 24/7). They do a good job with reenactments. My faves:

Forensic Files - Did a great job showing the science behind the investigation, and Peter Thomas was an awesome narrator.
Homicide Hunter: Lt. Kenda - Lt. Kenda comes across as arrogant, but he's also one cool cat - and I'll bet he was one helluva detective.
Fear Thy Neighbor - Scariest show ever! Makes me appreciate my nice, quiet neighbors.
I (Almost) Got Away With It - Some criminals are so smart when it comes to escaping prison and eluding authorities - why not put those brains to work in a legitimate business?
Locked Up Abroad - These people crack me up...("I didn't think exporting heroin out of Thailand would get me in that much trouble!").
Dateline - I like the Keith Morrison episodes. The guy's creepy, cool and campy, all at once.
Deadly Women - I like that they stuff three stories in a one hour program - short and sweet!
Old 12-02-17, 03:43 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

Good to see you F.o.D. Memories of the long-dead Screenshot thread.

I didn't realize Peter Thomas had passed away. I agree, he was great. Had a real urgency to his voice.
What I dislike about shows like Dateline, 48 Hours, and 20/20 is that they tend strongly toward "marriage, money, infidelity, murder" themes, which I find oh-so-boring (Stranger-crimes are much more interesting, imo). Morrison thinks he's some kind of noirish hepcat. And Mankiewicz speaks with a nasally sardonic tone that I find annoying.

I also get ID. Plenty of good stuff on there.
Old 12-02-17, 03:58 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

I will occasionally watch American Greed. It focuses on white collar crime.
Old 12-02-17, 06:23 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

I agree, Forensic Files is the top dog for this genre.

I recently enjoyed See No Evil, which focuses on crimes recorded by CCTV or security camera footage. Itís eerie to see the real crimes in progress, instead of your typical reenactment.
Old 12-02-17, 08:15 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

See No Evil. I'll have to look for that one. Never heard of it, but it sounds intriguing for sure.
Old 12-02-17, 08:28 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

I unfortunately have a hard time finding good shows in the genre anymore. My favorites by far were Unsolved Mysteries and Disappeared. Those two but especially Unsolved Mysteries I still like to revisit. It was just in a league of its own and thereís never been a host as good as Robert Stack in my opinion. He was just perfect with his voice narrations and the atmosphere of the scenes with him either in the studio or on location somewhere.

I like Forensic Files too as more of a straight to business show that focuses on one case but itís not my favorite in the genre to be honest. Investigation Discovery is such a mixed bag. Some of their stuff is good but thereís so much fluffy crap and just plain stupid shows on there. I liked Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda for a while but it sort of seems like theyíve changed the formula a bit compared to the older seasons. I almost forgot about Cold Case Files. I think between that and Forensic Files I enjoy the former a bit more.
Old 12-03-17, 04:08 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

Mike86, what I didn't like about Disappeared was, first of all, the heavy reliance of reenactments (which I always prefer kept to a minimum, if not avoided altogether), and also the fact that almost all cases were post-2000. Stack's hosting of Unsolved Mysteries was nonpareil, I agree. His gloomy presence was a critical part of the show's greatness.
I agree with you that there's a lot of trash on ID. If you haven't yet checked out On the Case with Paula Zahn, I highly recommend it. She focuses on older, unknown cases, and there's ample documentary material.

Cold Case Files was revived last year (maybe only temporarily), but it's now a completely different, much-worse show. It's just an hour of strictly (I mean strictly) slow-motion recreations, mixed with interviews. It's highly stylized and watchable, I suppose, but rather boring and protracted compared to the old Kurtis-produced version, which was much more journalistic in presentation. The reboot started off with Danny Glover as narrator, and then Kurtis was rehired, but it's not being produced by him. If I recall correctly, the original show was cancelled when Kurtis had a dispute with A&E.
Old 12-04-17, 02:01 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

Anyone catch that new Village of the Damned series? It's about a small town that had a string of bizarre deaths back in the 1990s.
Old 12-04-17, 02:29 PM
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Re: Let's talk True Crime programs

I like quite a few shows on Investigation Discovery, but can't stand Homicide Hunter: Lt. Kenda at all. I watch many of the others though.

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