Category Archives: True Crime TV

Lawyer at the centre of true-crime TV series The Staircase comes to Aberdeen

The Staircase follows the bizarre circumstances of Kathleen Peterson’s death, and her husband Michael’s subsequent murder trial.

In 2001, Kathleen was found dead at the bottom of the stairs in the North Carolina home she shared with Michael.

Calling 911, he said: “My wife had an accident, she’s still breathing. She fell down the stairs.”

Shortly after, Peterson was charged with first-degree murder.

© Supplied
Michael Peterson was convicted of murder and later released on appeal.

The trial that followed was full of bizarre twists and at times outlandish theories – blaming the death on everything from an owl attack to a second slaying similar in nature.

The curious case became the subject of the 13-part Netflix docu-series The Staircase.

At the centre of it all was Michael’s defence lawyer David Rudolf, who spent 16 years working on the case.

© Harry Lynch
David Rudolf.

This week, local audiences of the hit documentary will have the chance to get their own unique glimpse into the lawsuit, as David is hosting two live talks at The Lemon Tree in Aberdeen – his only Scottish dates so far this year.

The 69-year-old attorney will give a fascinating insight into how he defended his client who was eventually convicted of murder, before being released on appeal 15 years later.

Far from being loud and brash like the all-American lawyers we are accustomed to in films, David comes across as pensive and engaging.

“When the documentarians approached me, the original idea was to do a two-hour TV documentary on HBO,” he said. “This was back in 2003 and no one had really done anything like it before.

“But as the filmmakers got into it, they discovered that it was much too complex to be done in two hours.

“They wanted to do a series, but HBO thought there was no market for it and abandoned the project.”

But the documentarians continued regardless, and the 10-part series was aired soon after, albeit in France.

“Obviously the impact was fairly minimal, so it wasn’t until it was picked up by Netflix in June of 2018 which changed things,” David said.

“The audience now is 350 million.”

© Supplied
David reviews notes, top, and sits next to his client.

Three new “where are they now?” episodes were added to the original 10, and the runaway success of the show has surprised no one more than David.

Viewers around the world have been fascinated by the intriguing narrative, through David believes it’s a combination of elements which really peaked audience interest.

“It’s not just the story, but the characters too,” said the 69-year-old.

“Because it’s a series, you can really get to know them, see them age and watch the progress of the case over a 15-year period.

“Another element of it is the perspective the show gives on the criminal justice system.

“Viewers can see the flaws for themselves laid out on camera.”

But it has become apparent that 13 hours of TV isn’t enough to answer all the questions the show poses. In the autumn of 2018, David began holding talks around the US which stimulated passionate debates about whether the subject of the series is innocent or guilty.

Once word about these discussions got out, demand on this side of the Pond was what David described as “phenomenal”.

“It was mid-October when I first came to the UK and Ireland and the response has been wild,” he said.

“The Aberdeen show sold out instantly, for example, so we’ve added another date.” With such a complex story to cover, it can be hard to know where to start.

But as David explains, the shows are very much based around what that particular audience is interested in.

“Before the show starts we collect handwritten questions from the audience to see the issues they want covered, and simply, that is what we talk about,” he said.

“So far we often seem to focus on the lessons people can learn from watching the show, or the similar issues which occur in criminal justice systems across Europe.

“Scotland is particularly interesting with its third verdict of ‘not proven’.

“In one of the original episodes I actually talk about how ‘not proven’ is much more accurate than trying to prove someone ‘innocent’.

“Jurors are sometimes scared that ‘not proven’ means no guilt, but really it means that the prosecution have failed to provide the burden of proof.

“It would be a real shame if this verdict was ever gotten rid of and I’m sure will make for some interesting discussions when I come to Aberdeen.”

David is visiting the north-east with his show In Conversation with David Rudolf on January 20 and 22 at The Lemon Tree. For tickets visit

These are the 8 new shows our TV critics are anticipating the most this winter

Still, you say you want some television, to paraphrase a 20th century pop hit — and well you know, we’re doing what we can. To help guide you, Times critics Robert Lloyd and Lorraine Ali — which is to say, the two of us — have looked into the future and come back with some suggestions to help you wade through the ever-replenishing thicket that is modern TV. They are not the shows that will most interest everyone, of course, but these are the ones that make our TV antennae quiver.

Black Monday (Showtime, Jan. 20)

A volatile stock market in uncertain times. No, this isn’t any given hour on CNN, it’s a comedy series set around the worst stock market crash in Wall Street history. But it’s what caused the Oct. 19, 1987, implosion that launches this story starring Don Cheadle, Regina Hall, Andrew Rannells and a slew of regrettable fashion

Read more at:

‘I Am the Night’ Review

Chris Pine and ‘Wonder Woman’ director Patty Jenkins reunite on a TNT period crime drama with lots of period atmosphere but little sense of narrative purpose or identity.

This side of Jack the Ripper, there aren’t many true crime sagas that have been investigated as frequently on the big and small screen as the so-called Black Dahlia murder that shook Los Angeles in 1947. If you’re going to try to approach the case anew, you’d better have a good angle or clear-headed perspective.

TNT’s Black Dahlia-adjacent limited series I Am the Night has some things going for it, including a throwback star performance from Chris Pine, reuniting with Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, but the thing it most clearly lacks is that clear-headed perspective. After watching five of its six hours, I can’t tell you whose story I Am the Night thinks it is, nor the mystery it thinks it’s

Read more at:

Footage of Fresno jail lobby shooting will be featured on Investigation Discovery

It’s been just over two years since Thong Vang opened fire inside the lobby of the Fresno County Jail, nearly killing correctional officers Juanita Davila and Toamalama Scanlan.

Vang was high on meth and paranoid, and later claimed the shootings were in self-defense, though one of the officers was unarmed and the other only had a stun gun.

The shooting — the first of its kind in the 160-year history of the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office — will be featured in an upcoming episode of the true-crime show “Body Cam.” The episode, which features security footage from the lobby that played during Vang’s trail, will air at 10 p.m. Tuesday on Investigation Discovery.

It tells the story from the perspective of the officers, even as they recover from the trauma.

For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.


A clip from an upcoming episode of the show

Read more at:

8 new shows we’re anticipating the most this winter

Winter is a-comin’ in, to paraphrase a 13th-century pop hit, and television can make you cuckoo. So much! So much TV! What is a person who only lives 168 hours a week to do?

Still, you say you want some television, to paraphrase a 20th-century pop hit — and well you know, we’re doing what we can. To help guide you, Times critics Robert Lloyd and Lorraine Ali — which is to say, the two of us — have looked into the future and come back with some suggestions to help you wade through the ever-replenishing thicket that is modern TV. They are not the shows that will most interest everyone, of course, but these are the ones that make our TV antennae quiver.

Black Monday” (Showtime, Sunday): A volatile stock market in uncertain times. No, this isn’t any given hour on CNN, it’s a comedy series

Read more at:

How True Detective season three apes true crime podcasts

The first season of True Detective was a prime example of our current age of cable and streaming TV: high budget, for sure, but not quite having the high-quality script to match. But, hey, it was Matthew McConaughey, who won the Best Actor Oscar while it was on air, and Woody Harrelson being all Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson on your flat screen. Forget about the dialogue, feel the delivery. That’s not glib, by the way, it was a genuine reminder how a couple of great actors can elevate something far beyond the words on the page.

And then, of course, came the second season, set in LA, in which Vince Vaughn showed how that process works in reverse.

And now, improbably, after a four-year gap, we have season three, which begins tonight on Sky Atlantic, and sees

Read more at:

Dog the Bounty Hunter Sets TV Return on WGN America

Bounty hunter Duane “Dog” Chapman is returning to TV in a new unscripted series on WGN America. 

Chapman will star in Dog’s Most Wanted, in which he, wife Beth and a team of professionals track and pursue a “bucket list” of wanted fugitives. The show, set to begin production in the first half of 2019, will be WGN America’s first original unscripted series in five years.

“America has been captivated by Dog, Beth and their dramatic true-crime experiences for over a decade,” said Gavin Harvey, president of WGN America. “In this brand-new series, millions of Dog and Beth fans will join them on bigger hunts, pursuing more dangerous criminals, with a supporting cast of tough-as-nails crime fighters.”

Along with a team known as the Dirty Dozen, the Chapmans will hunt fugitives on the most-wanted lists from the FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and state law enforcement agencies. The initial order for Dog’s

Read more at:

3 New Crime TV Shows to Get Hooked On Now

The true-crime bubble may be bursting. But what about the old-fashioned kind? Scripted crime is booming—at least on TV, where the streaming services have been mining the world’s riches. There is so much to choose from: Nordic noir, procedurals from Brazil, Indian crime epics, British whodunits, you name it. I spent the recent holiday plundering Netflix’s recent global-genre offerings, and scoping the other services for what’s next. Here are three cut-above crime shows to tide you through January.


Germany has been steadily producing some of the best, and least categorizable, shows on Netflix—including the glamorous, maximalist saga Babylon Berlin, and the complex time-travel thriller Dark. Perfume, adapted from the 1985 best-selling novel by Patrick Süskind, is a German production that updates Süskind’s story from 18th-century France to the present-day Lower Rhine. Its six episodes are hauntingly macabre. A beautiful singer slips into her swimming pool for a naked nighttime swim—and turns

Read more at:

Can true crime finally solve the case of the Zodiac Killer? Podcasts of the week

Talking points

From Remainiacs to Pod Save America and Slow Burn, political podcasts are proving a popular genre. Further evidence of this comes in the form of Bag Man, an MSNBC podcast hosted by the news anchor Rachel Maddow. It recounts the bribery scandal that brought down the Nixon-era US vice president Spiro Agnew, a story that was major news at the time, but which has since been largely forgotten. The series has been downloaded 10m times since it launched in the autumn, according to MSNBC.

From one vice president to another: the most distinctive new podcast of the week is Gay Future. This purports to be an audio adaptation of a recently discovered YA novel written by the LGBT-unfriendly US “veep” Mike Pence, but is an entirely fictional and very funny takedown of the sort of “gay panic” thinking promoted by the conservative movement. Set in 2062,

Read more at: