Netflix

Evil Genius And FBI Files

Two bank-robbery cases, no waiting: Toby Ball and Sarah D. Bunting on Erie's pizza-delivery heist and Seattle's string of 'Hollywood' bank robberies.

The unfortunate Brian Wells walked into a bank in 2003 with a bomb around his neck; grabbed a lollipop from the counter; and set off (so to speak) a chain reaction of mayhem that led investigators back to a pair of "masterminds" who may have outsmarted themselves instead of law enforcement. Netflix's four-part docuseries Evil Genius drops Friday May 11 (so, warning: this section may contain spoilers), and returning guest Toby Ball and I watched two screeners and can't wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds. How much did Wells know? Is Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong really a black (common-law) widow? Does the latest true story from the Duplass bros have the same excellent build, but frustrating info gaps, as Wild Wild Country?

We stuck with the bank-robbery theme for our Cold Case topic this week, FBI Files's third-season episode on a prolific Seattle thief the feds named "Hollywood," and while there's lots to discuss about the case, the show is, alas, an example of how the non-fiction crime genre has evolved over the last decade and a half...and a cautionary tale about taking the FBI's "side" in your narrative when the case in question actually kind of points up their screw-ups. Special appearances by Sarah D. Bunting, Currency Cop; the Bhagwan; and the word "fugazi" in an all-new The Blotter Presents.

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