The Blotter Presents, Episode 114: Motive and Snowball

Plus: Forensic Files returns!

In this week’s episode of The Blotter Presents podcast, Sarah and guest Toby Ball take on two extremely buzzy new podcasts. In the first segment, they discuss Motive, a true crime collaboration between the Chicago Sun-Times and WBEZ Chicago. The podcast launched to a reasonable amount of fanfare last month, and its tale of a wrongly-accused juvenile who, after being awarded millions in an unjust conviction suit ends up back in jail, is certainly grabby stuff.

However…the podcast isn’t a home run, Sarah and Toby say. While they characterize it as “competent,” it’s also “by-numbers and self-regarding” in its presentation, which put them both off. In an era of peak true crime, with brilliance rampant on iTunes, the show didn’t strike them as quite enough to be worth the investment. If you want to compare your taste to Sarah and Toby’s, you can check out Motive here, and you can hear their full discussion here. -- EB


Unravel: Snowball, the second subject of this week’s The Blotter Presents, fared better with Toby and Sarah. We discussed the Snowball podcast back in August, as its Australian love fraud theme ticked pretty much all my podcast pleasure boxes. Advantages that it has over Motive include how its timeline is built and its lack of pretension -- but it certainly helps that, like me, Toby and Sarah are suckers for a scam.

If you’re interested in reading more about the story behind Snowball, the ABC also has a nice longread on the Lezlie Manukian racket here. You can also listen to the first three seasons of Unravel here. -- EB


Here’s where I should be reviewing Cold, a podcast about the disappearance of Susan Powell. You guys picked it, and I promise you I will, but my reaction to the first episode was so negative that I shut it off. However, Claire, one of our most loyal commenters, urged me to give it a second chance, and I feel I have to give it one more try. So I’ll have that for you tomorrow. -- EB


Here’s what I’m reading from my hotel room in Albuquerque, New Mexico:

“The True Stories Behind Unbelievable.” [Vulture] A handy “where they are now” listicle that forwards the backstory you might have gotten from “An Unbelievable Story Of Rape,” the ProPublica/Marshall Project article that provided the basis for the Netflix series (which was, BTW, the subject of last week’s The Blotter Presents).

Uncovered: Killed by Hate Premieres Oct. 20 On Oxygen.” [Oxygen] I like how Oxygen basically puts press releases on its front-facing site -- if all channels did this, everyone would know that a lot of TV “reporting” is straight cut and paste. Anyway, this is a two-hour special on U.S. hate crimes that will focus on “Matthew Shepard, James Byrd Jr., the Charlottesville riots, Blaze Bernstein and the Portland train attack.”

“HLN Will Re-Open Forensic Files in Quest for True-Crime Content.” [Variety] The show, which ended production in 2011, is returning with new episodes in February 2020. It sounds like people had tried to revive the series a couple times before, but rights issues thwarted the effort. CNN (which owns HLN) was the victor, and says that it plans to follow the tried-and-true format but for one detail: Peter Thomas, the show’s narrator, died in 2016. Its next narrator has yet to be announced.


Thursday on Best Evidence: OK, I’m really going to review Cold tomorrow. Plus some new research on pedophiles!


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