TV Shows »The Staircase

the staircase documentaryOn December 9th 2001, Kathleen Peterson was found dead at the bottom of her staircase covered in blood. Soon after, her husband, Mike would be arrested for her murder. French documentarian, Jean Xavier de Lestrade chose this compelling case for the in depth series, The Staircase, that originally aired on the Sundance channel. It's a compelling case because it is a truly perplexing one. Both sides have equally reasonable and equally flawed accounts of what happened and even the couples' children are divided on his guilt.

Lestrade, who is also well known for the Academy Award winning film Murder on a Sunday Morning, creates an interesting depiction of all the ins and outs of a defense team facing a very difficult trial. Without much style and fancy cinematography, the events are presented simply but throughly. No where else has the audience been taken into the confidence of all the preparations.

From surveys of the public to see how certain evidence will be construed, to vocal and acting coaching for the defendant in the court room before trial, from interviews with the accused and his family, to graphic evidential photographs of the crime scene (not used here gratuitously like American Justice, but as necessary parts to tell the whole story) – every aspect of the crime is documented.

That being said, it's all pretty focused on the defense, and therefor lends a bit of a bias to their side of the story simply because you're spending time with them and hearing at times only their complaints, theories, and feelings.

I have only watch so far the first disc that takes us to the beginning of the trail, but even knowing what is going to happen (I've seen the story told on some other true crime show) I am drawn in to the series and eagerly await disc two from Netflix.

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Posted on March 2, 2009

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