Entertainment TV Reviews

Thursday 22 June 2017

Crime doc is this season's binge-watch

Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson in Sherlock
Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and Martin Freeman as Dr Watson in Sherlock

John Boland

In the last couple of years, Netflix, which started out as a global online video store, has also been making its own drama series, most notably Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and Better Call Saul - with the second season of the last due next month.

Now Netflix has moved into the documentary area with Making a Murderer, a 10-hour series that has turned out to be the binge-watch sensation of the moment. That's not how I watch television, but from the couple of episodes I've seen so far, it's easy to understand why so many people have devoured it in one gobble.

The grim story (spoiler alert) concerns Steven Avery, sentenced to 32 years in a Wisconsin jail in 1985 for a violent assault on a respectable local woman but freed in 2003 after DNA evidence proved he didn't commit the crime.

That's when film school graduates Moira Demos and Laura Ricciardi began their documentary, but Avery's problems weren't over - he was then arrested and jailed for the murder of another woman.

Whether he's innocent of the crime remains uncertain but there's no doubting the malicious spite of local police, and Avery's defenders insist that his second conviction was a revengeful set-up.

The series is certainly fascinating, though whether you'll have the endurance to follow it through its unremittingly downbeat 10 hours is up to you. I probably won't.

The gimmick behind The World's Greatest Spy Movies (Channel 4) was that they were being assessed for believability by a panel of CIA and MI6 operatives, with the 2011 Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy film receiving the most approval. Myself, I preferred the old BBC version with Alec Guinness as the mournful George Smiley.

However, the Bourne movies were dismissed by one CIA operative as being "made up by people sitting in Malibu looking at the beach. There are no spies who are also Ninjas". Great fun, though, and I'm glad they all liked The Ipcress File, which is now 50 years old but still surpasses most other spy films. Long live Harry Palmer.

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