Nights In

The best of crime documentaries & programmes

It seems that just like fashion having changing trends, so too do television programmes. There was that reality TV spell where Geordie Shore, TOWIE and Made in Chelsea dominated before more concrete shows like Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones took over and didn’t it seem that 10 years ago you had to keep up with Fair City, EastEnders and Coronation Street?
Well now the tides are changing again and it looks like crime is what everyone is into nowadays – in entertainment purposes only of course. 
And Making a Murderer is part of that propulsion of popularity, but what do you do if you’ve finished the series and are having withdrawals?
Well luckily there are many other similar type programs which are just as enjoyable (if not more so) than the Netflix series.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst
Much like Making a Murderer, The Jinx is a documentary about an accused killer named Robert Durst.  
In six parts, Oscar nominated director Andrew Jarecki paints a surreal portrait of real estate icon and millionaire Durst.
As the series progresses and the evidence piles up against Durst for what in the end is three murders, it almost juxtaposes that of Steven Avery’s case when it comes to the legal system making you question once more the legitimacy of it.
But more interesting than that is the disturbing but fascinating persona that is presented of Durst, which lead to it being awarded the Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Documentary or Nonfiction series.
However, despite this striking portrayal, the real drama lies in the spine-tingling and shocking finale that gives you a true insight into who Robert Durst really is.
The Central Park Five
If you thought the Steven Avery case was bad, then you will be horrified at this two-hour long documentary concerning the media-tagged “Central Park Five”.
The details of the case itself – a rape on 28-year-old Trisha Meili – are graphic, an attack which left her with life-threatening injuries and 12 days in a coma. 
But where the real story begins is with the accusation and conviction of one Latino and four black teenagers of various counts including assault, robbery, rape and attempted murder.
Ken Burns, his daughter Sarah and her husband David McMahon explore the details of the case while also giving you an insight into the ethnocentric city of New York in the 1980’s.
Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hills
When three eight-year olds are found naked, murdered and hogtied in a river (one of them was also castrated) the police are going to want to find someone responsible for it pretty quickly. 
That’s where Damien Echols (18), Jason Baldwin (16) and Jessie Misskellie Jr. (17) come in.
In this Emmy award-winning film – Outstanding Informational Programming – Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky interview the people located around the area of West Memphis where the murder was committed.
The police department, defendants, parents of the victims and of the accused are all interviewed to paint a picture of this Christian society. 
Split into two parts, it deals with Jessie Misskellie’s trial first as he confessed (possibly was coerced) whereas the trial of both Echol and Baldwin is dealt with separately.
The success of this film then prompted two sequels: Paradise Lost: Revelations and Paradise Lost: Purgatory which further deals with the innocence of the three defendants.
Serial – Season 1 (podcast)
If you find it difficult to find the time to sit down and get through a TV series, then the Serial podcast series might just be what you need to get you that fix of crime. 
A spin-off show from This American Life, it gained popularity quickly topping the iTunes charts and winning awards in the process.
Creator Sarah Koenig investigates the murder of student Hae Min Lee and the potential wrongful conviction of her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed over 12 episodes which range from between 25 minutes to just under an hour.
The best thing about this series is that as Koenig herself had no clue as to what she was going to find, there is no untoward bias, giving you a chance by the end of those 12 episodes and eight and a half hours to really make up your own mind over the innocence of Adnan Syed.
Cold Case
If real life documentaries are too much for you then Cold Case might just be your answer.
Kathryn Morris plays Lilly Rush who investigates closed cases with her co-detectives Nick Vera (Jeremy Ratchford), Will Jeffries (Thom Barry) and Scotty Valens (Danny Pino) after a new lead is found. 
These cases range from the 1920’s to the early 2000 and through both a video and audio element perfectly encapsulate the time periods through flashbacks.
There are seven series totaling 156 episodes too, so there’s plenty to watch until the next big television trend starts.