By TVPlus22 August 2022
The best true-crime shows to stream
Some crimes grab the headlines and shake a nation – or the whole world. These true crime documentaries and drama series get to the heart of cases that you’ll never forget.
This six-episode Scandi miniseries investigates the grisly murder of Swedish journalist Kim Wall. But it’s not your average murder mystery. Kim arranged an interview in 2017 with mega-rich Danish engineering entrepreneur Peter Madsen… on his submarine. Thing is, no one knew where Kim was going – not even her boyfriend – and the only reason a search party was organised was because Peter’s submarine didn’t return to dock. Instead, it was found sunk and he was the sole survivor floating in the waters waiting to be picked up.
What happened on that submarine? And why did Kim, an innocent reporter, die so cruelly? Only Peter knows and he’s in prison for the rest of his life.
This two-part doccie tells Kim Wall’s story through interviews with the people who knew her best, colleagues, the lawyers who made sure that Peter Madsen was convicted, as well as authorities who were tasked with investigating her murder. There are also interviews with psychologists who detail what was going through Peter’s mind, why he chose to not only murder the journalist on his submarine but why he chose to be so vicious, and why Peter thought that he could get away with the crime.
It’s a cold look at a stone-cold killer and doesn’t hold back the punches – Peter is evil incarnate and him being behind bars is a very, very good thing.
Conrad Roy was 18 when he committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning in a parking lot. But what makes this story so outrageous is that his girlfriend Michelle Carter was arrested, put on trial and convicted for involuntary manslaughter. Turns out sweet Michelle was a cruel and callous manipulator when no one was looking and she bullied Conrad relentlessly, targeting Conrad’s mental state.
Conrad’s history of depression and anxiety went back years before he met Michelle and she knew how to talk him into anything. So a Romeo and Juliet pact sounded like a good plan – but he needed to do it first. Michelle’s downfall was technology – all of her messages to Conrad telling him “it’s a good idea if you kill yourself” were recovered from Conrad’s phone and the cell service providers, leading to Michelle being found guilty in the Test Message Murder Case in 2014.
Conrad and Michelle’s story gets a more doccie-like approach and feel with this two-part series. There’s very little dramatisation, instead opting for factual and hard-hitting interviews that drive home how Conrad’s suicide was built by Michelle, why she was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter (she knew that Conrad was mentally unwell and used that to her advantage) and what it means for similar cases going forward.
The episodes are split into The Prosecution, looking at how lawyers and police investigated Conrad’s death and the evidence they put together to arrest Michelle and try her; and The Defence, focussing on Michelle’s team trying to prove that Michelle was not to blame for Conrad’s actions… which they ultimately failed to show.
This grisly true-life tale centres on Dr Joseph Duntsch and stars Joshua Jackson, Alec Baldwin and Christian Slater. Between 2010 and 2017, 31 patients reported Dr Duntsch to various medical authorities that they’d been left either in severe chronic pain or maimed following surgeries performed by the neurosurgeon. But he’d done worse – he’d killed patients too in his Dallas, Texas, practice rooms and chalked the deaths up as “complications”.
The drama series re-tells Dr Death’s story through, well, dramatisation. There are a couple of creative liberties being taken but what you see is what really happened as some of his colleagues realise what’s going on and try to get him not only banned from practising medicine but arrested too.
This six-episode doccie investigation looks at the horrible murder and sexual assault of loving great-grandmother Helen Wilson in 1985. Her sister, who lived in the same apartment complex as widow Helen, found her dead the morning after they’d had a family dinner with their children. But it was clear that foul play was at hand – Helen’s body was covered in bloody sheets, there was a sign of a struggle and she’d been raped pre- and post-murder.
The cops had not only a lead but quickly arrested six people they believed committed the heinous crime, ignoring the most obvious suspect – a known violent sexual predator and career criminal. But it took 23 years for the case to actually be solved after it was thrown on the cold-case pile due to insufficient evidence. Thanks to advancements in DNA testing and forensics, the police were able to extract DNA from Helen’s stained clothing and the man they should’ve investigated in the first place was proven 99.99% without a doubt the guilty party, giving Helen’s family and friends closure at last when he was arrested.
In 2016, a spate of brutal Appointment Murders gripped the town of Krugersdorp, leaving salespeople and consultants terrified to book meetings in case they were the serial killer’s next victims. The investigation led detectives to a series of unsolved cold cases, the so-called Satanic Murders, and to links between 11 Krugersdorp killings between 2012 and 2016. They discovered these were the work of the Electus per Deus (Chosen by God) cult.
“The result of an 18-month research process, Devilsdorp shows again that truth is stranger than fiction, especially in South Africa,” says director David Enright. “This is the story of the events that rocked an entire community and forever changed the lives of those involved, especially the families of the victims. What started as a group of devout Christians trying to help a former satanist escape the satanic church ended in a murderous spree involving a killer mom, her two children, and a cult with more victims than members. It may all sound too far-fetched to be believed, except it really happened – just down the road from us.”
In October 2011, in Potsdam, New York, 12-year-old Garrett Phillips is found strangled to death in his home. The investigation into his murder quickly finds a suspect in Nick Hillary, Garrett’s mother Tandy’s ex-boyfriend. Here’s an important detail: Nick is black, and Potsdam is a predominantly white town.
This two-part HBO documentary by Liz Garbus features interviews with Nick, with Garrett’s family members, with Tandy’s friends, members of the various legal teams involved in the case, two district attorneys, and the journalists that followed the investigation from the very beginning.
It’s as much a look into a horrific crime that shook a community as it is into the flaws in a criminal justice system that wants to put a suspect behind bars, whether they’re guilty or not, more than it wants to solve a murder.
Once a powerful titan in the film industry, now a convicted sex offender, Harvey Weinstein’s name is synonymous with the #MeToo movement. Rightly so – allegations against Weinstein have been circulating for a long time, eventually leading to the movement.
This sweeping documentary pulls back the veil on Hollywood’s glamour, and reveals the ugly side of a business that owes its existence to beauty. It shows how all-powerful men like Weinstein call all the shots – how they can make or break entire careers.
In the industry that brought into existence the idea of the “casting couch”, a lot of the work needed for a sexual predator to thrive had already been done.
And that’s what makes this such compelling viewing. We don’t just hear the painful experiences from Weinstein’s victims, but we hear from his employees and colleagues. It paints a picture that’s not all silver-screen and awards, but one of complicity from an entire industry.
Get your Big Macs ready and get yourself comfy for one of the most bizarre large-scale crimes of the past few decades. Between 1989 and 2001, there where almost no legitimate winners of any high-value prize in the promotional McDonald’s Monopoly game.
Crazy, right? What’s even crazier is the story that unfolds following an FBI investigation. And no, the Hamburgler was not behind this daring theft of millions. McDonald’s was the victim of fraud that spanned decades and amounted to millions. How is this even possible?
How this actually all plays out, and how the FBI eventually caught those responsible, is highly entertaining. This six-part series is an enjoyable as it is insane. Instead of gory crime-scene depictions there are fake commercials and trips to Vegas, rank amateurism and organised crime, reluctant and eager participants, duffle bags of money, a tiny dog with a foul temper, and a mob widow.
If you needed any more proof that real life is stranger than fiction, look no further than this. It’s great.
The most binge-worthy series to stream
The Bay S4
Marsha Thomason steps into the lead in Season 3 as DS Jenn Townsend, who investigates the death of a promising young boxer.
Telenovela DiepCity S2 follows disillusioned young women who were forced into crime while in high school to make ends meet.
Made in South Africa
The Best Man: The Final Chapters
Based on the films, The Best Man: The Final Chapters catches up with Harper, Robyn, Jordan, Lance, Quentin, Shelby, Candace, and Murch.
Love Island USA S5
The American version of the hit show moves the action to Las Vegas, but the premise remains: the most beloved couple will sashay away with $100 000.