8/10 Best viewed after watching the 2004 docuseries (now on Netflix), HBO’s “The Staircase” shares the same title as the docuseries but is a dramatic retelling of the story of novelist Michael Peterson and the death (or murder) of his wife Kathleen. While the docuseries was highly acclaimed, I felt underwhelmed by it but mainly due to the fact that the series makers weren’t given access to the prosecution or the judge and other key players so the series felt rather one sided in that it only showed things from Peterson and the defense’s side. While that wasn’t the fault of the series makers for being denied access to all other sides that they wanted to see, it did hurt the overall quality of the series. Luckily, a dramatic retelling such as this from creator/writer/director/show runner Antonio Campos is able to cover more ground and show every side of the story, in addition to greatly expanding upon every character, including Kathleen, who plays a huge role here. Speaking of characters, one of the strengths of this limited series is the phenomenal casting. Colin Firth plays Michael Peterson and Toni Colette plays Kathleen and both are excellent (they certainly earned their Emmy nominations). While the entire supporting cast was fantastic, it was Michael Stuhlbarg as defense attorney David Rudolf and Juliette Binoche as Sophie Broussard who stood out the most for me. After watching the docuseries, I thought I knew all there was to know about the Peterson trial. My favorite aspect of this series was all of the new information that we as the audience were given. From an incredibly interesting (and plausible) theory that an owl attack may have killed Kathleen to Peterson’s admittance that Kathleen knew nothing of his double life to one of the editor’s on the docuseries becoming romantically involved with Michael Peterson, in addition to a lot of the family drama with the Peterson’s kids, there was plenty to unpack that added multiple new layers onto this already fascinating story and made an older true crime story seem fresh and new again. The pacing worked well and there was no filler to be found across these eight, roughly hour long episodes. Campos also shows all three versions of Kathleen’s death, which was a wise decision to make. I had no idea if Michael was innocent or guilty after watching the docuseries but this limited one gave me some fresh perspective. That being said, that leads me to the couple of flaws with this series, albeit minor ones. This being a retelling of a series of events where there is plenty of room for debate, I am positive that certain liberties were taken to make things more dramatic. While this is normal for Hollywood, it is hard to tell what really happened and what was added for dramatic effect in certain scenes. The new owl theory, which I was fascinated by, is introduced but that plot thread went nowhere. I wish the series would have shown why that theory wasn’t taken seriously from a legal standpoint or if the theory was ever disproven. Parker Posey plays assistant prosecutor Freda Black and we see her go from her career in law to a much less glamorous and lucrative job without any explanation of how that transition came to be, which would have been nice to see. Minor complaints aside, the series is well directed, has a fantastic score, is able to juggle all of the characters and plot threads with ease while flashing backwards and forwards but still feeling coherent and accessible. HBO generally puts out great content and with this A-list cast, they have struck gold once again. If you are a fan of true crime or enjoyed the docuseries, this is a must watch. That being said, I would recommend checking out the docuseries before watching this, as they make for one Hell of a back to back viewing. Climb up or down your nearest staircase to get to your television set to check this out. Just make sure to watch your step.

#TalonShow / #MusicByOwlCity / #ThePetersonsUnderTheStairs / #AllsStairInLoveAndWar / #StairCrossedLovers / #KathleenOnMe

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