Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Making of a Murderer: my summation

Like a lot of people, I got hooked on MAKING A MURDERER now showing on Netflix. You can tell who’s watched the ten-hour docuseries. They’re the ones sleep deprived. That’s just one of the downsides of binging. The other is you can’t discuss the content because of spoiler alerts. We all knew at the same time who shot J.R. I’m sure there are a lot of you who are only up to the part where convicted killer and rapist Steve Avery is hanging out with the governor.

In case you are not familiar with the story, Steve Avery was framed for a rape and served eighteen years in jail. He gets out, sues the idiot police department, and then winds up charged with a murder where all the clues are discovered by the same police officers he’s suing. A little dicey, no? Along the way, one shocking event after another unfolds.

The series is kind of like a cross between TRAINING DAY, THE BIG CARNIVAL, and DUMB AND DUMBER.

If anything, you watch this and feel 1000% better about your own problems. Yikes.

I think the big appeal of this series and why it’s caught the zeitgeist in such a big way is that you really CARE about poor Steve Avery and his downtrodden family. It’s a lesson writers always need to remember – whether it’s a documentary, drama, or crazy sitcom – first and foremost the audience needs to CARE. That’s what hooks a viewer, not CGI effects or vagina jokes.

Considering it’s Wisconsin I was surprised there wasn’t tailgating in front of the courthouse during the trial.

I see where Steve’s two defense attorneys (who were terrific) have become quasi-celebrities. Even sex symbols. How soon until they ‘re co-hosting the Golden Globes or HOLLYWOOD GAME NIGHT?

The filmmakers, Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos had extraordinary access. Great footage and phone conversations. They had so much footage you almost felt annoyed they didn’t record the murder. The ONE friggin’ night they take off…

During the trials, unlike on TV legal shows, attorneys don’t object every eight seconds. Witnesses get grilled and the opposing lawyers stoically just take notes. My guess is they’re writing: “We’re fucked.”

If a witness answers a question in the affirmative, instead of saying “yes” they always say “correct.” Even morons with IQ’s under 70 who testify that they don’t know the difference between yards and feet answer “That’s correct.”

Local TV newscasters and reporters come off like the coiffed vultures they are.

Zach Galifianakis will play Steve Avery in the movie.

HBO and PBS passed on the series.

Which of the nine Steve Avery "looks" did you like the best?  This is my favorite -- the Boston Red Sox player look. 

Or this -- the Atlanta Braves player look.

Wouldn’t it be great if it turned out Robert Durst was the real killer?

And finally, don’t be accused of ANYTHING in Wisconsin.


Rays profile said...

It's interesting ... I'm from Wisconsin, and giving you the tailgating jokes, people here are seeing this in an entirely different manner. I live about 20 minutes north of where the murder happened; the local reporters are in many cases from my city. We got the full version, at least as full as you're getting on the Netflix movie, and print coverage to boot. And up here, the consensus is that Avery is guilty as hell. I suggest you check out some of the trial coverage that's being posted at the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Green Bay Press-Gazette, and local TV stations in our area. There are a lot of things that are being left out. And .. one final note ... the show, from the reviews I've seen locally and nationally, is leaving out one major figure ... the victim, Theresa Holbach.

VincentS said...

You've just sold me on this show, Ken.

Johnny Walker said...

MAKING A MURDERER is supremely addictive. Holy cow. However its addictive qualities diminish somewhat what you do a bit of research elsewhere on the internet and see the things the documentary makers decided to leave out. Then you just get angry that they made you care for a monster like Avery.

Still, it's gripping TV, and they do a great job of convincing you of one thing, and then making you doubt yourself an hour later. Plus it does a great job of revealing the ins and outs of the justice system (even if it misleads the viewer as to what is "improper").

Further reading: The full transcript of Dassey's meeting with the investigator is chilling, as he reveals fact after fact about the murder without any coercion at all.

Katie said...

You actually inadvertently pointed out what I feel like is a major flaw with this documentary. The amount of evidence that was left out. As an attorney, I know that attorneys really do object every eight seconds. In fact, on TV when witnesses are allowed to go on long-winded tirades and confessions, that's when TV is further from reality. Obviously, no one wants to watch 70 hours of trial footage, but the filmmakers were able to cut out what wasn't in Avery's interest to make a compelling documentary, thus misleading the public and manipulating the story. The fact that you don't see any of the objections shows how little of this trial was actually in the doc.

Johnny Walker said...

Well said, Ray Barrington. There's one figure that's frequently missing from the discussion, the poor Theresa Holbach (and her surviving family).

Here's an example of one of the facts missing from the documentary: Avery specifically asked for Holbach when he asked for a photographer. Previously Holbach had asked her boss not to be sent back to Avery's because of his inappropriate behaviour towards her on previous visits (like appearing only wearing a towel). I guess her boss talked her into going back one last time. Very sad.

Paul Gottlieb said...

The role Phillip Seymour Hoffman had been born to play!

Stephen Marks said...

Cast of Characters:

Ryan Hillegas: One of these guys who shaves his head because he's going bald. Hacked into his ex-girlfriend's phone messages and deleted what may have been important evidence like "I'm upset you're dating someone else", "If I can't have you no one else can" and "I'm going to kill you at 2:48 pm then plant you and your car on Stephen Avery's property, thats A-V-E-R-Y, then I'll put the key to your car in his trailer and take a dirty shirt of Avery's and rub it all over the door handles, love you." This guys current girlfriend should disappear on purpose before the choice to do that isn't hers.

The Cops: Took the knowledge they acquired from a Mark Furham seminar and planted anything bloody they could find on Avery's property. Without any warrant these guys jumped over a 1987 rusted out GMC Pacer slamming into the air conditioner of the Air Stream Kato Kalin was living in and scattered evidence 3 feet from Stephen's outhouse. They turned Avery's 15 minutes of fame into 150 years of framed. Stephen should have just changed his name to "Usual Suspect" after his release from prison and sat back reading his leather bound copies of Green Acres scripts and waited for the cops to arrive, it was inevitable. Ironic the first time this guy will see electricity is when he sits in a chair attached to some.

Scott Tadych and Bobby Dassey: These two hillbillies are prime suspects. They corroborated each others alibis, even telling police they broke the vase, not Peter Brady. This was a deception by admission tactic so the investigators wouldn't look any further and discover Mr. Tadych's moonshine still and banjo collection. Him and, excuse me, HE and Mr. Dassey both had autographed posters of Ned Beatty on the walls of their double wides and each had one tooth.....guilty.

R.J. Wagner: Wasn't anywhere near Wisconsin at the time of the murder but, you know, come on!

croquemore said...

The thing everyone forgets about "Making a Murderer" is that it is a documentary and not "news." Documentaries serve a sole purpose and that is to take a stance on an issue and present it. They are biased. They are not "fair and balanced" That's not their purpose. To expect anything other than one position from a documentary is to not understand the genre. That being said, what makes this series so unique and what often gets overlooked in film, television and any other medium is exactly what Ken said: "It’s a lesson writers always need to remember – whether it’s a documentary, drama, or crazy sitcom – first and foremost the audience needs to CARE. That’s what hooks a viewer, not CGI effects or vagina jokes." For something to be remotely interesting, we have to care about the people. it's why I give up on shows after a couple of episodes; (I'm looking at you Breaking Bad.) I just couldn't buy the conceit that after 45 minutes, High School Chemistry teacher Walter White became Meth Maker and Kingpin Walter White. And what makes it worse, I didn't care.

Thomas said...

My perspective having watched it and done the further research, is that the police tampered with evidence. In cases where the police tampers with evidence, I believe it should be 100% thrown out of court - because having the defense separating the evidence that is reliable from the unreliable is not giving the presumption of innocence.

I don't really know if Steven Avery did the crime. But I would rather he be free than have a police force that feels comfortable planting evidence.

The prosecution made no explanation of a narrative; how Avery killed her on the bed, but got blood on the car, and didn't crush the car. Or he killed her in the immaculate garage with no evidence. That's all fascinating, and unanswered. Brilliant TV. Also, irrelevant, since the police planted evidence, and that creates de-facto reasonable doubt. Would recommend.

Unknown said...

This has been all over Chicago talk radio. Attorneys, prosecutors have all discussed this. The documentary left out a lot of key stuff, all pointing to him being guilty of the murder. He was rail roaded on the rape, but guilty of this murder, so don't have too much sympathy for the guy. Save it for the victim.

Johnny Walker said...

For anyone wanting to read more of the evidence that was left out of the documentary, here's some further reading:

The Evidence They Didn't Present
Full Transcript of Dassey Interview
How Making a Murderer Got It Wrong (more of a moral discussion -- but worth reading)

Donald said...

What is your verdict on the new Jenny Craig's "Cheers" commercials with Kirstie Alley, George Wendt and John Ratzenberger?

DrBOP said...

Hey, hey.....it's the Off-Topic Kid with a bit of a tribute to Glenn Fry, as he got to do a gig with Vin Scully, of course :


VP81955 said...

Writing from Jacksonville, where my brother soon will send me back to LA with bus rare and some $. I need work and lodging. Can anyone help?

MikeK.Pa. said...

But, what if you care about vagina jokes? Looking at big winter storm this weekend (teased every five minutes on local morning news - all three hours of it), so I'll binge watch the show then. I've heard nothing by great things about it. BTW, proving I'm not a robot by clicking on palm trees when it's 15 degrees outside is cruel and unusual punishment (typed with my chapped hands).

MikeN said...

Johnny Walker is right that the documentary makers have skewed things to make him look innocent when the evidence strongly suggests he is guilty. The cops may have botched the case with appearances of impropriety.

Johnny Hy said...

I think the "Hero" attorneys for Avery are actually not that at all. You could tell from bits and pieces that they pressured the family to not let Brendan take the plea deal that was offered to him of 15 years in prison because they knew if he did, part of the plea deal would be to testify against Steven and they could not have that. They moved to have Brendan's original lawyer removed by constantly saying to the family that he didn't have Brendan's best interests at heart. As such, this kid is now spending the rest of his life in jail instead of him probably being out by now based on good behavior

Everybody is giving the original lawyer and investigator grief but their job in this case after it was obvious Brendan was involved, and based on specific details he gave about the murder in the interview, it was obvious, was to get the best deal for their client. In this case it was the plea deal and as little time as possible for him.

Unknown said...

Interesting MAKING A MURDERER summary in a two minute song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hz4XTNa38aE

Johnny Walker said...

@JohnnyHy That is terrible. Avery can't stop abusing that kid it seems.

JulieK said...

I haven't seen the documentary and I don't have an opinion on Avery's guilt or innocence. I just think it's stupid for people who are being sued to be the ones investigating and prosecuting the same person who is suing them. They should've called in the Attorney General or other independent investigators and prosecutors to take over so that there would be no taint to the prosecution. This way, even if he is guilty as hell, it smells bad.