Mini-series - 4 episodes (Released on iTV-2016/Netflix-2017)
Excludes UK, IE, ANZ
Created by: Mark Williams-Thomas, Simon Cowell
Starring: Mark Williams-Thomas, Sam Gillingham, Chris Hackett
In this documentary series, a 1985 case where a wife disappeared is re-investigated, her husband serving a life sentence despite no body being found.
While I rarely check Netflix for user reviews, I did for this and I've never seen so many one star ratings.
After watching, the reviews are correct. This is a boring waste of time. The story would maybe fill one episode, but this is stretched to four episodes. The mystery is made much more complicated than necessary. After the final episode you realize you got the bulk of the story from twenty minutes of the first episode.
I was expecting another dark, fictional British crime story, but this is actually a documentary series. I was a little disappointed. The twists and turns of the fictional story I imagined as an investigator tries to free an innocent man were replaced with a documentary series that covers the full story after one episode.
Mark Williams-Thomas is the investigator. While he talks a lot, he doesn't offer much content. The story is told asynchronously just to make it complicated and to trick into thinking it's a bigger story than it actually is.
Russell Causley was charged and convicted of murdering his wife despite her body never being found. He maintained his innocence, but his daughter Samantha wants Mark to uncover what happened.
Russell seems despicable. His murder charge stemmed from an investigation into an insurance fraud attempt. No one could find his wife who hadn't been seen in years. Years earlier he had moved his girlfriend into the household, with a wife, girlfriend, and daughter under one roof. I could never get over the stark contrast between the actress that played his girlfriend in the dramatization and the images of his actual girlfriend. It looks like there's a thirty year difference. It's the Hollywood homely trope in action.
This combines interviews, Mark's commentary, and dramatic reenactments. Mark summarizes every segment, and that's as boring as it sounds. This show's pace is slow motion. It provides information, repeats it interviews someone about it, and then Mark comments on the information.
I was hoping this might at least approach Making a Murderer (read my review), but it's nowhere close. The only 'twist' is whether Causley will reveal the location of his wife's body. This is a very simple story that's over-dramatized. The series goes over the top to try to prove this is dark story. It isn't.
Episode three includes Causeley's confession. It felt like a conclusion, causing me to wonder what could possibly be in the fourth episode. It's just more of what I had already seen.
Typically crime documentaries attempt to prove a convict's innocence, but this introduces a criminal and confirms he is indeed guilty. The police did a good job and the only question is where he hid the body. The stakes are lower in this series. Each episode confirms the guys is bad and then reiterates that a few times. Part of the problem is that either the director or Mark liked having Mark on camera.