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Look, I get why everything is a docuseries now. Both traditional TV and streamers want more hours that make them destination/must-subscribe programming, and some subjects really do need more than a couple of hours. I also acknowledge that, as a reviewer who has to synthesize The Next Big True-Crime TV Thing for a living, ninety minutes on my docket instead of nine episodes (still kind of mad at The Vow about that tbh) does make my life easier. But I’m still not wrong that not every true-crime topic needs a four-to-eight-hour docuseries.
Yeah, some things do. Other things don’t, but they do their six-bagger thing so well, you don’t mind. But the 90-120-minute feature used to be coin of the genre realm, I wouldn’t mind seeing things trend back that way, and in the event that Netflix et al. don’t make those as much anymore because they aren’t hearing ideas that seem to fit in the feature slot, let’s make them a list. I will start: Jerry Orbach’s relationship with “Crazy” Joe Gallo. Orbach was befriended by Gallo after playing a character based on Gallo in 1971’s The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight; Gallo was a regular at Sunday-night dinners at the Orbachs’, and Marta Orbach was getting ready to write a post-prison memoir with Gallo…until Gallo got weird about the contracts, withdrew from the Orbachs socially, and kind of iced them out when he ran into them at the Copa the night of his 43rd birthday. Which is also the night he got killed. (Reports that Orbach was present at Umberto’s seem not to be true, at least according to the Orbach bio I’m in the middle of.)
This is a perfect feature slice: a famous/beloved actor, a notorious gangster, disputed facts/witnesses, and I’m willing to bet no shortage of talking-head whores willing to weigh in. It’s a chewy story, but doesn’t need 300 minutes; 93 will do fine.
Okay, y’all’s turn. What crime stories do you wish would become not a bloated limited series, but a feature doc?
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