tv review

Big crimes, small screen; true crime television series and TV documentaries that recreate and reexamine some of the mystifying and grisliest cases in history.

  • Matthew Trundle
    Published a day ago
    'The Sinner' Sidesteps Conventions to Produce a Binge-Worthy Delight

    'The Sinner' Sidesteps Conventions to Produce a Binge-Worthy Delight

    Throughout the 21st century there has been a rise in the lazy, formulaic crime procedural spearheaded by CBS that has seen a rise in dull, rather cookie-cutter television filled with bland performances and wholly expected narrative outcomes. This was an unexciting transition for the broadcast television landscape but with the rise of streaming these shows are generally passing out of favor now that audiences have so much more choice. These shows' ratings dwindle due to the fact that there's no incentive to watch a show live anymore when the narrative outcome is so unsurprising, and there's a dearth of other options available to watch. To achieve success with this sub-genre, these tiresome conventions must be challenged and subverted; otherwise, people will lose interest. From its first episode, The Sinner achieves this immediately. A conventional procedural may open with the victim meeting their end and then the remaining minutes of the episode follows the team of protagonists doing their job so the criminal is caught and everything is wrapped up tidily, ready for next week's episode. While it's true that the show's opener shows the crime committed very soon into the first episode, the circumstances are changed and the narrative conventions are upended. As we see the perpetrator of the crime commit the criminal act before us there is no question of who, and she is quickly apprehended so there is no rush to capture the criminal either. Instead the focus is on why this inexplicable crime was committed as it appears that there is no circumstance apparent that would lead protagonist Cora Tannetti do such an act to a man she has no apparent connection to. The crime itself surpasses our expectations by being actually shocking in a genre that has become so exploitative. There's also such a palpable atmosphere when Cora repeatedly stabs an unknown male on a family day out to the beach in front of numerous spectators and her own infant child. Whoever selected the song "Huggin' & Kissin'" by Big Black Delta has a gift for selecting such evocative and moody music that becomes more emphatic every time it's played throughout the series. This song is a striking cue that brings back much of Cora's repressed turmoil that wounds her so tightly and the majority of the narrative is about her resurfacing her own suppressed traumas so that she can make sense of her inexplicable crime.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 2 months ago
    ‘Pennyworth’: S01.E09. “Alma Coogan”

    ‘Pennyworth’: S01.E09. “Alma Coogan”

    With only one episode remaining of the current season, the created Batman prequel series Pennyworth edges ever closer to the season finale. The ninth episode, the Rob Bailey-directed “Alma Coogan,” picks up the story shortly after events depicted in the previous installment.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 2 months ago
    ‘Suits’: S09.E09. “Thunder Away”

    ‘Suits’: S09.E09. “Thunder Away”

    Did you catch the serie's penultimate episode? It’s the perfect setup for the series finale.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 2 months ago
    'Pennyworth': S01.E08. "Sandie Shaw"

    'Pennyworth': S01.E08. "Sandie Shaw"

    The latest episode of Bruno Heller’s Batman prequel period drama Pennyworth picks up the story the following morning.
  • Paul Levinson
    Published 2 months ago
    Review of 'The Spy'

    Review of 'The Spy'

    Gideon Raff is best known for Homeland, soon to begin its final season on Showtime. In its first few seasons—its best few seasons, by far—Homeland told the story of an American who was brainwashed in Iraq, to hate Americans and identify with terrorists, who returns to the US as a war hero and moves to within a heartbeat of the Presidency. It was all fiction, of course, but...
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 2 months ago
    ‘Pennyworth’: S01.E07. “Julie Christie”

    ‘Pennyworth’: S01.E07. “Julie Christie”

    After a two week break, the latest episode of the Bruno Heller-created Epix original series Pennyworth landed Sunday, Sept 8th 2019. Picking up the narrative immediately after where the previous episode left off, Martha Kane (Emma Paetz) arrives home to find Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) waiting for her. It came as a surprise to find him in her residence. Even more surprising, according to Thomas, Martha and his sister Patricia Wayne (Salóme Gunnarsdóttir) have been missing for three days.
  • Hannah Elliott
    Published 3 months ago
    'Mindhunter'

    'Mindhunter'

    Season 2 of Mindhunter has just been released, and it has been much anticipated. The first season was done in such a great fashion that many fans of true crime shows immediately enjoyed the first season, and were praying for a second one—and after a long wait, we now have it.
  • Paul Levinson
    Published 3 months ago
    Review of 'Mindhunter' Season 2

    Review of 'Mindhunter' Season 2

    My wife and I very much enjoyed the first season of Mindhunter, but, whew, the second season was much better—more compelling—in just about every way, except one.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 3 months ago
    'Instinct:' S02.E09. “Manhunt”

    'Instinct:' S02.E09. “Manhunt”

    With so much to cover, I’m finally getting around to looking at the "Manhunt" episode of the Michael Rauch created television series Instinct.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 3 months ago
    'Pennyworth:' S01.E05. "Shirley Bassey"

    'Pennyworth:' S01.E05. "Shirley Bassey"

    Esme Winikus’s (Emma Corrin) premature death takes its toll on Alfred Pennyworth (Jack Bannon) in this latest episode. In Rob Bailey’s "Shirley Bassey," old foes are seen reinvigorated, new ones crawl out from beneath the woodwork, and a restaurant is redecorated with an interesting shade of brain matter.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 3 months ago
    'Westside': S05.E09. 'Episode 9'

    'Westside': S05.E09. 'Episode 9'

    The latest episode of the New Zealand period dramedy Westside saw the war between Rita West (Antonia Prebble) and Wolf West (Reef Ireland) finally break through the surface and take on a new dynamic. The war has been simmering for a while. It was only a matter of time before the pot boiled over and the sh*t finally hit the fan.
  • Shain Thomas
    Published 3 months ago
    'Instinct': S02.E07. “After Hours”

    'Instinct': S02.E07. “After Hours”

    In the first of two Instinct episodes, televised on CBS Sunday, 11 August 2019, we found Yale Psychology Professor and NYPD consultant Dr Dylan Reinhart (Alan Cumming) and NYPD Det Lizzie Needham (Bojana Novakovic) “go undercover in New York’s erotic underworld when they investigate the murder of a high-powered public relations rep. Also, a glamorous love from Julian’s [past] comes back into his life with a proposal he can’t resist.”