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Catching Killers Review 2021 Tv Show Series Season Cast Crew
“Seattle, Washington. 1988.” We see a group of police detectives stationed around computers in a studio designed to look like a police station.
The first episode is about the Green River Killer, who murdered over 49 young prostitutes and buried them in wooded areas in and around Seattle between 1982 and when he was finally arrested in 2001.
The episode starts off with scenes from the 1988 special Manhunt Live! Search for the Green River Killer, hosted by Patrick Duffy. One of the people on the special was Dave Reichert, the lead detective on the task force created by the King County Sheriff’s office to find the Green River Killer. He’s one of three investigators interviewed for this episode: Fae Brooks, who was on the task force due to her experience with sex crimes, and Tom Jensen, who joined the task force due to his ability to organize the mountains of tips and evidence that was gathered.
The investigation is examined through the use of those interviews, media coverage at the time, and some reenactments. It details how one body after another was found in the time period between 1982 and 1984, and how the cops had narrowed on a couple of suspects at the time, including Gary Ridgeway. But because they couldn’t pin physical evidence to Ridgeway, the case grew cold until Reichert became sheriff in 1997, when DNA technology had been developed. It still took four more years to nail Ridgeway, based on that evidence.
Produced by Louise Norman, Tom Keeling and Lydia Delmonte and directed by Suemay Oram, Catching Killers is a pretty straightforward take on the true crime docuseries. There’s nothing particularly remarkable or distinct about how it presents each case, and because each episode is only around 40 minutes, the filmmakers make some hard choices about what parts of the case to examine.
That’s one of the big problems with the series. In the first episode, for instance, there is very little explanation about what happened between 1984 and 1997, when Reichert became sheriff. And then again there’s no details about how, after the search was revived due to DNA technology, it took another four years before Ridgeway was arrested. Those details could have taken maybe two to three more minutes to explain, but it was decided to skip right over them.
What we did appreciate was the focus of the episode on three of the main task force members, instead of the filmmakers getting interviews with a dizzying array of journalists, victims’ family members, and law enforcement. This is about how the killers were caught, so the perspective of the main investigators is what was needed to focus on. Too often, filmmakers do too much to cover all the sides of a particular story, making the talking heads blur together. Here, there were only three, and they were distinctive enough to remember how each was involved in the case.