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Cold Case Files: The Most Infamous Cases (2002) – DVD Review

Cold Case Files: The Most Infamous Cases DVD cover art


Produced and Hosted by Bill Kurtis


  • Ten episodes from the series

Released by: A&E Home Video.
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: N/A; episodes appear in their original 1.33:1 format.

My Advice: Watch It on Cable.

Most murder cases are resolved quickly. Suspects are easily identified, forensic evidence provides confirmation, and the accused either confesses or trips over his lies. Sometimes the murderer is still at the scene of the crime over the body with the murder weapon in hand. Other times, there are no suspects, the evidence points nowhere, and the case goes cold. Gone, but not forgotten. But time changes everything. A new forensic technique, such as DNA testing, sheds new light. Or an accomplice caught by the cops becomes more willing to share information. Other times, it is sheer dogged boring police work done over months and years. Bill Kurtis looks into how justice may be delayed but not denied with these Cold Case Files.

[ad#longpost]Most people are used to a mystery being solved on television within an hour, so seeing a crime that takes years to crack does hold a certain fascination. There’s even a mystery drama that is based on the concept of cold cases. But series like Cold Case and the many flavors of CSI and Law & Order use dramatic writing, high powered acting, and special effects to entice the viewer. This show uses the standard documentary format of archival footage, talking head interviews, and staged shots of the investigator or victim’s family staring off into space. This presentation isn’t very creative and doesn’t allow for much excitement. But should it? Since we are dealing with real people, would allowing their tragedy to be Disneyfied be the right thing?

I’m not saying that crime dramas shouldn’t entertain, that’s their job. But they deal with fictional people and situations so they can be more engaging in their presentation. When dealing with sensational killers like the Zodiac or the Green River Killer, would adding more flash be appropriate or necessary? The presentation also doesn’t allow for as much information to be relayed as some crime buffs might want. By portraying some of the emotional impact these crimes produce, some informational details are sacrificed. There is only so much that can be crammed into an hour (and in some episodes a half hour) show.

What really bugs me about this disc set is the lack of features when extras are available. During the shows, expanded facts on certain segments are said to be available on the A&E website. So why couldn’t they put those extras on the disc? Or even an update on how the case from an episode is going? Is the perpetrator still in prison, have any laws been changed because of the case, have any more crimes been attributed to the killer? Something. There’s not even a short biography about Bill Kurtis, who produces and hosts many of A&E true crime series. Since Cold Case Files is still shown regularly on A&E and with no special features, I can’t really recommend this DVD disc set as it stands. Wait for a better, more stacked release and then get back to me.

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