True-Crime Forcenings · Dark Side Of The Ring · Dr. Death

Plus trailers galore, profiling myths, and more NXIVM

It’s time to make me and Eve watch/listen to stuff! Thanks so much to everyone for contributing so many great suggestions to the Forcening thread. In case you’re new, it’s a simple concept, which we borrowed from my esteemed colleagues at the Extra Hot Great podcast: you pick a doc, series, or podcast for each of us to consume; we report back in a timely fashion. That’s it!

Forcen Sarah

Forcen Eve!

In these polls, you only get to pick one thing, so choose wisely! (How’d we pick what made the cut? I eliminated the stuff we couldn’t easily find through legal means, then put everything I hadn’t seen/heard on my own list and gave Eve the rest.)

Not sure how I’ll vote on Eve’s poll, tbh, and as much as I’d love to influence you on my own poll, all of these look equally interesting…but I’ve got a soft spot for the Fatch in that NXIVM thing. Whatever the results, we trust you! — SDB


Just a reminder: only paid subscribers get to see our Forcened reviews! If you’ve got an Abe to spare (or 20 Georges from the coin jar), join us for just $5 a month — and you’ll get all the archival stuff as well!


I also have Extra Hot Great to thank for finally getting me off my dupa to watch Dark Side Of The Ring. I talked about it in our Around The Dial segment in today’s new episode; for you “tl;dl” types, the headline is that, while it’s not doing anything you haven’t seen before, it’s up there with the better eps of 30 For 30 in making me care about sports I know nothing about, and crimes I’d never heard of. (The subject of the two-parter I specifically discussed for EHG, the second-season premiere on Chris Benoit (above, center), I had heard of, but really knew nothing beyond what we said about the show back in April.)

Said two-parter is a heartbreaker, and I’ll content-warn you here for the discussions of suicide and domestic violence, but here’s a weird little thing that I forgot to mention on the podcast: no matter who is speaking, about whose death, or where in the timeline of that death they are or the manner of that death, the phrase used is always always “passed away.” I understand there’s only so many euphemisms, and that not everyone’s comfortable saying “died,” but when every single talking-head interview uses it — to refer to an accidental overdose; to say a loved one died in their arms; to talk about Benoit having murdered his child — it starts to stick out more and more as the episode wears on, that this is apparently the only permissible phrasing. The show is a Canadian production; is this a Canadian thing? Was this happening in all those episodes of Intervention Canada I watched and I just didn’t notice?

Anyway, it’s not such a turn-off that I won’t recommend the show; it’s just odd. See for yourself on Hulu, where you can watch the show’s entire run to date (reruns also appear periodically on cable if you’d rather catch it with your DVR). — SDB


Is the Macdonald Triad a myth? Certainly it’s myth-ic; better known as the triad of sociopathy or the homicidal triad, it’s derived from a 1963 paper by forensic psychiatrist John Macdonald in which Macdonald identified “‘great parental brutality’ and ‘extreme maternal seduction[,]’…animal cruelty, fire setting and persistent bedwetting (enuresis) in childhood as predictive factors of future aggression and violent behavior in adults, particularly a tendency toward committing homicide or serial murder.” But Crystal Ponti, writing for the A&E Real Crime blog, quotes Fitchburg State behavioral-sciences assistant prof Kori Ryan as saying that the triad “‘was like a game of telephone, a really long game of academic telephone,’” and notes that while FBI criminologists John Douglas and Bob Ressler kind of put the seal of respectability on the triad with “widely cited follow-up studies,” the center of the science doesn’t really hold. It comes down to what an interest in true crime on the part of civilians often comes down to, at least in this non-degreed commentator’s opinion: the desire to try to control with information that which is fundamentally out of control:

According to Ryan, while certain behaviors and risk factors can elevate the prospect for violent tendencies, there’s no foolproof way to predict how someone is going to be years down the road. “I would hesitate to say that you could ever spot a serial killer early on… We don’t know as much as we’d like to think we know about serial killers, because there are so few of them. …”

A&E’s blog tends towards the repackaged click bait, but occasionally, as here, there’s some new-to-me info; you might find it interesting. — SDB


Snapped airs its 500th (!) episode on November 22. Of note: 1) the choice of date; 2) the fact that, in this line of review work, I’ve managed to miss roughly 497 of said episodes; and 3) this snippet from the PR email:

Beginning November 9, Oxygen will launch an epic two-week “Snapped” experience: “Snapped: The Killer Women Event” and air female killer-themed programming leading up to the special. Preceding the monumental episode, Oxygen will air the pilot of “Snapped,” a never-before-seen episode involving a doctor who was found dead on the lacquered floor of his brick mansion, elegant twin sisters with refined Southern accents and millions of dollars at stake.

I am mildly diverted by the idea that the pilot of what’s apparently a true-crime tee-vee institution has never seen the light of day — not enough to plan to watch it, probably, but mildly diverted — and amused also by the manner in which the episode’s subjects are described. There’s just something extra about a certain subgenre of true crime; you know how occasionally I’ll point out that literally nobody uses the phrase “glitz and glamor,” like, in the wild — that it’s only ID-show voice-over guys talking about social-climbing Grosse Pointe dentists who (allegedly) shoved their first wives down ravines? This is…that. Like, who cares that it’s a lacquered floor? It’s a mansion; we’re going to assume that’s not linoleum in the great room…because of course it has a great room; didn’t you see, about the twins and their accents? No Juicy sweats or moonshiner argot for those two, heavens no! Glitzy! Glamorous! Deadly.

…So yeah, about Snapped. (hee.) There’s a trailer for Ep 500 right here. — SDB


You can also watch a trailer for Seduced: Inside The NXIVM Cult — but you won’t have to wait nearly as long for that one to drop, because if you get Starz, you can watch this one on Sunday, October 18. This Sunday is also the finale of recent virtual-water-cooler darling The Vow on HBO — so S:ITNC might seem extraneous, but on the other hand, if you think you’ll feel an emptiness once The Vow is over (or volleyball isn’t already ruined enough for you), you can slot Seduced in right afterwards. As well, the timeline for this one’s likely a bit different/later, as it’s more focused on India Oxenberg’s journey into, then out of, NXIVM (and she’s also an exec producer). — SDB


Pacey’s in, Christian Grey’s out at Peacock’s Dr. Death adaptation. Variety reported a couple days ago that Joshua Jackson is replacing Jamie Dornan as the lead in the reimagining of Wondery’s pod series. In case you’ve forgotten that one, here’s a quick recap:

“Dr. Death” is based on the true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch (Jackson), a rising star in the Dallas medical community. Young, charismatic and ostensibly brilliant, Dr. Duntsch was building a flourishing neurosurgery practice when everything suddenly changed. Patients entered his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries and left permanently maimed or dead. As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson ([Alec] Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby ([Christian] Slater), set out to stop him.

Intriguing casting all around, IMO, as either Baldwin (Malice) or Slater (Dirty John S02 and others) might seem on the surface to fit the lead better than Jackson, who between Dawson’s Creek and Fringe is probably usually cast as a flaky but nevertheless generally good egg, not a malpracticing con artist. That said, this is at least for me a great leap forward from Dornan, who I found so unconvincing in The Fall that I quit it after a single season…but the entire landscape of this limited series could change again before we see a frame, as Dornan had to drop out due to COVID-related scheduling issues, and the same fate could easily befall other contracts as we head into another cold season. — SDB


Thursday on Best Evidence: The Los Feliz Murder House, and more Unsolved Mysteries!


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