A&E

How Long Should You Wait For The Killing Of JonBenét: The Truth Uncovered To Uncover Said Truth?

Or is it, like most accounts of this tragedy, just a rehash of facts we already have?

High-Profile Docu Attempted: A&E's The Killing Of Jon Benét: The Truth Uncovered.

Subject: The murder of first-grader JonBenét Ramsey on Christmas night, 1996...and the ensuing, and fruitless, search for the responsible party/parties.

How Far I Expected To Get: I thought I could watch the whole thing, but the JonBenét case is a tough nut to crack effectively, for a bunch of reasons. The first is that, as of this writing, the case is unsolved, and until a viable suspect is produced, whether by law enforcement or independent investigation, any take on JonBenét's murder is a review. A&E's review purports to contain "never-before-seen case details, including Burke Ramsey's 1998 interview tape," "the first sit-down interview with John Ramsey marking the 20th anniversary," and other exclusive information, but it's a mistake to expect such "revelations" to make up more than a small fraction of the runtime. (Or to be revelatory, usually.) The rest is inevitably a variation on the same case timeline you've seen packaged a dozen not-that-different ways in the last 20 years.

The second is that the case itself is both well-trodden ground and something of a hydra of issues: not just what happened to that poor kid but the battering her parents (and to some extent Burke, her brother) received in the press; the infighting amongst Boulder officialdom that prevented the case from moving forward effectively; that the tabloids became a character of sorts in the narrative; on and on. It's hard to cover all of it and impossible to do it compellingly for a "general" audience. If you have any familiarity with the case, you want depth on a couple of these fronts, not breadth on all of them for the umpteenth time.

That this is the leading salvo in a barrage of case programming this month is not on The Killing Of JonBenét's side either.

How Far I Did Get

54:00 (out of 123 minutes)

What Did It: Mike Bynum, a family attorney and friend, describes the blood evidence -- in the possession of the police not long after the murder -- that contained the DNA of an unknown male unrelated to JonBenét, evidence the police failed to turn over in a timely fashion. This probably happened because the Ramseys had declined to give them statements in the days right after JonBenét was killed, electing instead to lawyer up and shut down, and the cops wanted the Ramseys to twist.

This is shocking, generally, but as far as specific storytelling, this is information I feel like I already had, and chasing down that lead is what I want to see onscreen -- not yet another jeremiad about the poor beleaguered Ramseys' fight for justice for their family and good name. Like, this isn't a case I know particularly well, but didn't everyone move on from the idea that anyone in JonBenét's immediate family was responsible years ago? Not that it isn't terrible that their grief was compounded by these suspicions and the cops' unprofessional behavior; it is. But it's not something this viewer needs to go over again.

The Killing Of JonBenét is relatively good: the film stock looks expensive, they do have good access to JonBenét's father John and it's a well-organized assemblage of older interviews from the late '90s and early '00s. It underlines subtly that Linda Arndt was being a drama queen about counting her bullets at the house that day. But if it adds anything after the first hour, I may never know about it, because it takes too long to tell me anything new.

Worth Taking Another Run At It? When there's roughly 519 more hours of the same redundant coverage coming down the pike, in premiere season? I don't think it's a worthless two hours, but I don't think I'll be making time for the second.

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