A Few Thoughts After Finishing Netflix’s The Staircase

Netflix has to stop making true crime documentaries. It’s bad for my health. Last week, I finished The Staircase and like most people, still have questions over whether or not Michael Peterson killed his wife, Kathleen.

Shameless Plug: I wrote a summary for The Staircase on Hidden Remote so do yourself a favor and read that before viewing the rest of this article. Yes, I would appreciate the views, but it summarizes the first 10 episodes as well as going in depth for the last three, which were new to Netflix. Here is a basic summary of the series.

Hidden Remote – “On December 9, 2001, novelist Michael Peterson made a 911 call that would change his life forever. Michael’s wife, Kathleen Peterson, had an accident that left her lying in a pool of blood at the bottom of a staircase in their home in Durham, North Carolina. Michael deemed it an accident, saying Kathleen fell down the stairs, but as the police started to investigate, they soon charged Michael with murder.”

If you like true crime series, you should like The Staircase. To compare it to other shows like Making a Murderer and The Keepers, it’s a much slower burn. The Staircase does not get cooking until the trial, where all of the climatic twists and turns appear. Once you’re finished watching, come back to this article and read my thoughts that I had after finishing the show.

Michael Peterson’s Behavior Throughout The Trial Was Not Only Creepy, But Downright Strange

The Staircase / Netflix

Picture this. You are being accused of murdering your wife. If you lose the trial, you will go to prison for life without parole. Would you act it was just any other day? Would you continue to make jokes, drink wine, smoke from a pipe, and listen to classical music with a smile on your face? No one in their right mind would act “normal” for fear of prison unless you are Michael Peterson. Peterson continually lit up his pipe, read books, joked with his children, and acted like nothing was wrong throughout the first eight episodes. I don’t care if the judge says there’s a 99% chance you’ll walk freely. There is still a chance that everything will go wrong. I don’t know if Michael was trying to take his mind off the trial by acting like nothing is wrong, but his behavior was strange and creepy.

Here’s a tidbit. Michael actually dated the editor of the documentary, Sophie Brunet. Strange is the best word to describe the entire series.

The Owl Theory Makes Sense And I’m Starting To Believe It More And More

Michael Peterson did not kill his wife, Kathleen. An owl did.

Wait, what? Despite being 13 episodes long, The Staircase did not mention this theory until towards the end of the series and even then, it wasn’t fully explained. The reason why experts could never recreate Kathleen’s death was due to the fact that the wounds on Kathleen’s head were unidentifiable. Kathleen had lacerations on her head, but no skull fractures or signs of blunt force trauma, which means she probably wasn’t struck on the head. Experts guessed that a blow poke was the murder weapon, but I’m not buying it.

That’s where the Owl Theory comes in. To summarize, a Barred Owl could have attacked Kathleen as she walked inside from the pool. The owl might have gotten tangled in Kathleen’s hair, digging the claws into her head, which would explain the pools of blood. Kathleen, trying to fend the owl off, could have fallen down, hit her head, and died at the bottom of the staircase. It sounds crazy, but The Staircase also left out the fact that pine needles and feathers were found in Kathleen’s hair. Even the director of the series believes an owl could have killed Kathleen.

The Wrap – “I talked to people who have been attacked and injured by owls, and I have to say, in my opinion, it’s the most possible explanation for the very special injuries that Kathleen Peterson had suffered. No one introduced that theory inside a courtroom.”

Have fun going down Owl Theory rabbit holes.

Whether He Killed His Wife Or She Fell Down The Stairs, Michael Peterson Should Not Have Been Convicted 

The Staircase / Netflix

Did Michael Peterson kill his wife? I actually lean towards no, but even if you lean towards yes, I don’t see how a court could convict him based on the evidence presented in the trail. With no witness, I need to be convinced how and why a murder occurred. After doing some more research about stuff that was either glossed over or left out of the series, debt and the collection of assets after death could be a motive. Michael and Kathleen had more than $142,000 worth of debt. Michael would also receive Kathleen’s assets if she died. Michael’s sons were also in debt and Michael even asked his first wife Patty to take a 30,000 loan to help the boys out. Coincidently, this happened 11 days before Kathleen’s death.

I also can’t get past the strangulation injuries on Kathleen’s neck as well as the idea that Kathleen was dead for longer than a few minutes. Hypothetically, Michael could have strangled Kathleen, thrown her down the stairs to her death, developed a plan to tell authorities, and call paramedics a while later. It’s definitely possible.

However, the lacerations on the head without a blunt force trauma or a murder weapon sealed the deal for my reasonable doubt. How can you beat someone to death with a blow poke without injuring their skull? It’s almost impossible. Watching Duane Deaver’s experiments made me laugh laugh out loud. I’m not a science expert, but his recreation attempts were atrocious. Deaver clearly created the experiment to achieve the result he wanted. I didn’t need to hear that Deaver was later fired for falsifying evidence in 34 cases. I knew from the start that Deaver was shady. I understand that the jury is supposed to trust the experts, but it blows my mind that Deaver’s testimony was the reason for the guilty conviction. A woman danced in the background when Deaver’s shorts received a blood spat from his experiment. I’m not talking about a fist pump. She high stepped like she was Deion Sanders. His credibility should have been thrown out the window right then and there. That is why I would have had a reasonable doubt and would vote not guilty.

Let me know what you think about The Staircase in the comments or tweet to me @danny_giro.

Evil Genius: The Pizza Bomber Saga Makes Netflix The King Of True Crime

Making A MurdererThe Keepers. Wild Wild Country. The Confession Tapes. Add Evil Genius to the list of successful binge-worthy true crime documentaries at Netflix.

There are strange stories. There are weird stories. And then, there are stories that are so strange and weird that words don’t do it any justice. That fits the description of Evil Genius: True Story of America’s Most Diabolical Bank Heist, a four part documentary that premiered on May 11th and can be seen on Netflix.

Evil Genius begins in 2003, when a man named Brian Wells walked into a bank with a bomb around his neck in Erie, PA. Brian delivered pizzas for a local restaurant so for him to walk into a bank with a loaded gun and bomb around his neck, asking for $250,000 was peculiar to say the least. Flash forward to a standoff between Brian and the cops not too long after. The bomb begins to tick and Brian begins to worry as he lays on the ground in handcuffs.

Boom.

The device explodes, killing Brian instantly, a disturbing moment that is caught on camera. That all happens within the first 20 minutes of the first episode. After viewing all four episodes, the bomb explosion might be the least unusual aspect of the documentary. That’s all thanks to the star of the film, Marjorie Diehl-Armstrong. Bipolar, brash, and brilliant, when the camera is on Marjorie, it’s showtime. From her troubles in early adulthood to her violent crimes, to steal the title of another show, the viewer witnesses the making of a murderer.

This is not your simple cut and dry bank robbery. Someone or some people were pulling the strings. Marjorie might have been the alleged evil genius and “master manipulator” in all of this, but her hands are not the only ones with blood on them. With the ex-lover, the drug addict, and a convicted rapist by her side, Marjorie and the team set out to cash in on the bank heist. With more details being introduced in later episodes, the question of all questions remains at the heart of the matter. Was Brian Wells involved in the bank heist plan or was he in the wrong place at the wrong time?

From dead bodies in freezers to mysterious confessions, Evil Genius depicts a unique story about a bank heist gone wrong. The cat and mouse game of “he said, she said,” leaves the viewer questioning the motives of each individual and muddies the waters of truth and lies. Even after the the four episodes, the viewer still might ponder the identify of the true Evil Genius. One thing is for certain. This case is as strange as it gets.

Everything Sucks! Review: 90s Nostalgia Hits Home

The 90s, baby!

Grab your walkman, pop in some Oasis or Alanis Morissette, and get ready to take a trip back to 1996 with Netflix’s new comedy, Everything Sucks! The show is 90s nostalgia at an all-time high. From the music to the clothing, if you experienced the 90s at all, you’ll definitely start to reminisce once “Wonderwall” hits your ears.

The show takes place in the real town of Boring, Oregon in 1996. Luke O’Neil (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) is your typical nerdy, ambitious, and naive freshman. Luke falls in love with Kate Messner (Peyton Kennedy), the tall, shy sophomore member of the AV Club. Along with his friends McQuaid (Rio Mangini) and Tyler (Quinn Liebling), the trio decides to join the AV Club as Luke looks to win over Kate. However, it’s clear that Kate is dealing with issues over her sexuality after she develops a curious crush for Emaline Addario (Sydney Sweeney). Taking a page out of Freaks and Geeks playbook, the stereotypical Jocks vs. Nerds is not the central rivalry as the AV Club vs. Drama Club is the main event. All of this is going on while the single parents, Luke’s mother Sherry (Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako) and Kate’s father, Principal Ken Messner (Patch Darragh) try to connect with their children, but end up developing feelings for each other.

Everything Sucks! tugs the nostalgia strings hard, sometimes too hard during the beginning episodes. The simple “boy tries to impress girl” storyline is overplayed, but the Kate’s issues over her sexuality and the chemistry of Luke and Kate allows this show to find its groove in the later episodes. It’s a fresh take on a coming out story. This show has been drawing a lot of comparisons to other period projects such as Stranger Things, Freaks and Geeks, Full House, and Degrassi. Everything Sucks! doesn’t have the compelling story lines or character development as Stranger Things or Freak and Geeks, but the half hour comedy kept me more than occupied with enjoyment throughout the 10 episodes.

There are times where you don’t have to critically analyze a show with a fine-tooth comb. There’s no need to with a quick and easy show. Sometimes, you can just sit back, enjoy 90s nostalgia, and fly through 10 episodes with a smile on your face. That’s why Everything Sucks! doesn’t suck at all.

Let me know what you think on Twitter @danny_giro.

Video: I Am All In On Riverdale

CW / Riverdale

I’m hooked. I’m obsessed. I can’t shake it and I honestly have no idea why. I am all in on Riverdale.

I will admit. I am a little late to the game so shoutout to all the diehard fans before me. I’m new to the gang so I hope you welcome me into the Rivervixens with open arms instead of stabbing me at Pop’s. A couple weeks ago, I was sick and decided to go on a Netflix binge. I remember hearing things abut Riverdale and saw they won every award at the Teen Choice Awards. If you don’t know by now, I still have the mind of a teenager so these young adult shows are right up my alley.

22 episodes later and I am hooked. It’s dark, it’s entertaining, and it’s an enjoyable watch. To better describe my love for Riverdale, check out my latest video on our YouTube Channel. Subscribe, like, and comment!

The End of the F***King World Review: Dark, Unique, And Enjoyable Rom Com

Netflix has found its latest sleeper hit with The End of the F***king World. Here is the official synopsis:

James is 17 and is pretty sure he is a psychopath. Alyssa, also 17, is the cool and moody new girl at school. The pair make a connection and she persuades him to embark on a road trip in search of her real father.

***Blog will contain no spoilers***

Man, the British know how to do comedy.

How many times have you watched the typical “boy meets girl, boy falls in love with girl” romantic comedy? My guess is hundreds. Sometimes, you just need a new take on the classic love story. The End of the F***king World is unique as it gets. The synopsis above touches on the basics of our two main characters, James and Alyssa.

James (Alex Lawther) says he’s a psychopath and from the beginning episodes, he proves that point. James has grown up with no emotions or feelings, hence why he likes to kill things. Now, he wants to move on to killing bigger things like humans. Enter Alyssa (Jessica Barden). Alyssa is the cool, new girl who acts like the typical new girl in any TV show. She acts like she doesn’t care what people think, but on the inside, she just wants to fit in. James and Alyssa rebellious attitudes bond and decide to go on a road trip that will change their lives forever.

Throughout their crazy adventures, you start to realize that James and Alyssa are actually just like you and me. Ok, so maybe not everyone wants to kill someone. Shocker! However, this idea of acceptance and being true to yourself are themes that everyone deals with on a day to day basis. It’s not about fitting in with society, but it’s about finding that one person that accepts you for you. You’re comfortable with them and you can truly be yourself. That is what James and Alyssa are searching for and as the episodes go on, the young couple begin to fall for each other in a not so obvious way.

The episodes are dark. It’s not Black Mirror dark, but it has dark undertones like murder and psychopathic views. Plus, a few twists and turns along the way (looking at you, Episode 3). Like I said, it’s not your typical Rom Com. However, between James’s nervous, yes man attitude and Alyssa’s off the cuff, foul mouth comments, the Bonnie and Clyde duo keep you entertained throughout the whole series. Heck, I was laughing aloud during every episode. You build this strange, but enjoyable connection to the show. It’s a SUPER EASY binge. 8 episodes of about 20 minutes each. You can knock that out in under 3 hours.

So if you’re off from work today, order some Seamless, grab a snuggie, and watch a young budding romance in The End of the F***King World.

Stranger Things Cast Sang A Motown Medley With James Corden

Unbelievable. We are currently witnessing the most talented group of kids the world has ever seen. Excuse me while I change that statement. We are currently witnessed the most talented group of people the world has ever seen. These kids never cease to amaze me. They can do everything and then some. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have my boy James Corden leading the group and providing the electricity.

We all knew Millie Bobby Brown had BARS, but now we know that the boys could be bigger than the NSYNC. I truly do think this is the best cast in television and a lot of it has to do with the Fab Five Kids.  Whoever was the casting director for  Stranger Things deserves a billion dollars. Thank you for bringing these kids into my life. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to watch the Snowball dance for the 100th time.

Here’s the full segment from Corden.

Stranger Things Season 2: What I Liked, What I Didn’t Like, And Season 3 Predictions

The show that swept the nation is back for Season 2. I still don’t know how Stranger Things became so popular. It’s one of the more impressive followings I’ve seen from a show because word of mouth was its biggest marketing tool. I remember my older sister saying to give the show a try in late July. After I was hooked, I had to tell everyone like I won the Golden Ticket in Willy Wonka.

Season 1 was a 99 mph fastball. It was that good. From the writing to the young cast, everything from top to bottom worked. If Season 1 was a 99 mph, I would say Season 2 was a 95 mph heater. It’s one of the best follow ups to season that I can remember in a long time especially with some much hype surrounding it. There were some minor issues I had, but as a whole, it was so enjoyable to watch.

My mind is racing all over the place. There is sooooooo much to talk about so I’m going to do my best to cover as much as I can. I know I will forget some stuff so please comment below or message us on social media. The more discussion, the better. To review the Season, I’m going to talk about what I liked, what was just ok, what I didn’t like, and some potential storylines / questions about Season 3.

WARNING: If you didn’t read my article about spoilers in TV, check it out. I think a week is a fair amount of time for this show. I will be mentioning spoilers so if you haven’t finished yet, bookmark the article and come back to it after. Let’s go.


What I Liked

Stranger Things / Netflix

Hopper and Eleven’s Relationship: One of the strongest storylines of Season 2 was the relationship between Hopper and Eleven. All of the gang thinks Eleven is dead, but instead, she’s playing house with the Police Chief of Hawkins. I’ve always thought that Hopper and Eleven were two of the strongest characters on the show so it made sense to give them a storyline. In a way, they are both looking for “normal lives.” Hopper still struggles to get over his daughter’s death and Eleven just wants to be a regular kid. It’s these heartbreaks that draw them together. Hopper is now a father again and Eleven has a new “papa.” I’m sure you’ve already read about the blue bracelet. They both got what they wanted in the end, a family.

Stranger Things / Netflix
Stranger Things / Netflix

– Hopper Was The Best Character In Season 2: A lot of Hopper love being thrown around, but it’s well deserved. I think Hopper was the best character in Season 2. Tackling fatherhood all while trying to figure out what the hell is wrong with his town was a good balance of storylines. David Harbour should be nominated for a Golden Globe this year. He was that good. My top 5 characters this season were:

  1. Hopper
  2. Steve
  3. Eleven
  4. Will
  5. Lucas

– Steve: I haven’t seen a transformation this impressive since Arod. What a season for Steve. In Season 1, he was the douchebag boyfriend who publicly called his own girlfriend a slut before turning face at the end. In Season 2, Steve became a lovable, older brother figure to the gang and I was all about it. His bromance with Dustin should not have worked, but I thought those two were at their best when they were together. I know a lot of people are going to say Team Steve > Team Jonathan. I look at it this way. For Nancy’s heart, it should be Jonathan > Steve. For individual characters, it’s Steve > Jonathan. Let’s not forget that Steve wrote “Nancy Wheeler is a slut” on the movie theater. He has to get more than just flowers in order to be forgiven.

– Episode 8, The Mind Flayer: The best episode of the season. I was giddy watching this episode. The whole gang (minus Eleven at the end) working together is what I wanted to see from the beginning. It’s arguably the best cast in television so whenever they work together, magic happens. This was a roller coaster episode. From Bob the Brain getting DECIMATED by the demidog to the gang trying to get information out of Will, I loved it from start to finish. Plus Eleven showing up at the end was super badass.

– The Season Finale and The Snowball Dance: I’m a softie for a school dance. Sue me. Another successful season finale capped off by a great 80s dance scene that put a smile on my face. Viewers got the action they deserved for 40 minutes, and then we got an ode to a John Hughes film at the school dance. Steve looking at Nancy as he drives off signifies he still has feelings for her. Lucas wins over Max. Will embraces Zombie boy. Dustin. Oh Dustin. Dustin went from rejection to dancing with hottest girl at the dance. Most importantly, Mike and Eleven finally got their moment together. If you haven’t been listening to Time After Time and Every Breath You Take this whole week, we’re not friends. IF YOU’RE LOST YOU CAN LOOK AND YOU WILL FIND ME, TIME AFTER TIME.

– Will Became A Character Instead Of Doug From The Hangover: Really glad The Duffgods decided to make Will an actual character instead of an afterthought like Doug in the Hangover. I particularly enjoyed when Will was possessed by the Mind Flayer, injecting fear in everyone who looked at him including the audience. I thought they would get to a “We have to kill Will in order to stop this thing,” but that would be super, super dark so I don’t blame them for going the route that they chose.

Also, shoutout to Bob The Brain. I liked him. Most of you won’t like him. I’m a nerd so it explains a lot.

What I Didn’t Like

Eleven’s Separation From The Gang: My biggest gripe of Season 2. What made Season 1 so spectacular had a lot to do with the interactions of the Core 4: Eleven, Mike, Lucas, and Dustin. Seeing the gang try to dress up Eleven, fight bullies, bike rides, basement talks, etc. The whole time I was hoping for a reunion and we didn’t get that until the very end. In Season 3, the gang needs to get back together.

Stranger Things / Netflix

Episode 7, The Lost Sister aka Eleven’s Solo Episode: This episode is going to get a lot of heat from fans. To start this off, I commend the Duffer Brothers for taking a risk. I’m all for trying to veer off the proven formula every so often just to keep the audience guessing. I’m not going as far to say I hated the episode because the Internet has already said that. I felt it didn’t work, but I think if they made it half of an episode, it could’ve succeeded. Introducing Eight was a smart move because it sets up for next season, but I think it could’ve been presented in a different way without the backlash. Imagine the beginning scene of Episode 1 was the final scene of the season. Eight driving away with a bloody nose, showing that there are more kids from Hawkins lab out there. I think that ending would’ve made all the headlines.

– The Last Scene Of The Mind Flayer At the School In The Finale: Continuing off of the previous point, insert my ending with Eight instead of the Mind Flayer. Will spitting up a demidog at the end of Season 1 was a great cliffhanger. The Mind Flayer over the school in Season 2 was ok, but didn’t have the same impact as Season 1. Continuing along with Eight, imagine if Eight showed up in the parking lot at the end of Season 2 and said she needs help fighting in the Upside Down and says “Hello Eleven. I’m your sister.” Fade to Black. BOOM, bring on Season 3.

– The Lack Of A True Villain: Who is “The Bad Guy?” Season 1, it was Dr. Brenner, who was the perfect villain. He tortured Eleven and exposed Hawkins to the upside down. Who is the villain in Season 2? I really didn’t hate anyone this season because it’s hard to hate a supernatural force. Dr. Owens? Nah, he turned face at the end. The Demidogs? I wouldn’t really call them a villain. The Mind Flayer? Yes, but there needs to be a human villain as well. I hope Dr. Brenner returns in Season 3 to wreak havoc once again so Eleven finally can kill him.

Stranger Things / Netflix

– The Underutilization Of Billy: Billy is an enigma to me. He’s supposed to be this bully towards Max and the kids, but he doesn’t interact with them until the end. I’m assuming he was supposed to be the “human bully” just like Troy was in Season 1. Troy interacted a lot more with the gang and had a few pivotal scenes including the one that set up the famous 3-way hug. Billy has to get more involved next season. Perhaps the Mind Flayer takes over his body. I would be so down for that.

– The “It Scene” Didn’t Happen Until Towards The End: The Netflix slow burn. A tale as old as time. That seems to be the common theme when it comes to streaming shows on Netflix. It’s a slow burn before they hit you with the haymaker. In Season 2, what was the “It Scene?” The one that made you go, “Ok ok. Now we’re cooking.” I think I didn’t get that scene until episode 6 when the demidogs leave the junkyard and go right to the lab. In Season 1, the It moment for me (besides the pilot) happened in Episode 3 when Will’s fake body was discovered, which is my favorite scene of the series. THAT drew me in and it was early on. Season 2 brought the heat at the end, but I needed some in the beginning as well.

Final Thoughts

As a whole, Season 2 delivered. It lived up the ridiculous amount of hype it had and then some. The Duffer Brothers have said they have a four season arc for the show so Season 3 is going to happen. It sounds like it will be another time jump. Maybe some kids will move away and we’ll have more scenes outside of Hawkins? The logical move is to put the kids in high school and have the Mind Flayer terrorize the students. However, this is Stranger Things so expect the unexpected.

Follow me on twitter @Danny_giro.

Mindhunter: Your New Netflix Obsession Premieres October 13

How do we get ahead of crazy if we don’t know how crazy thinks?

SIGN. ME. UP.

Ladies and gentleman, I present to you the next hot show to premiere on Netflix, Mindhunter, which drops October 13. Ever since news of this series came about last year, I’ve been circling the date on my calendar. I am ALL-IN on crime dramas. It’s arguably my favorite genre of television. Breaking Bad, The Wire, Making A Murderer, The Keepers, True Detective (Season 1 of course), Top of the Lake (Season 1 as well), Every OJ Simpson documentary. I can’t get enough of it. You give me two to three cops / lawyers who are trying to solve a mystery and I am hooked.

From the GOAT website, Wikipedia, “Set in 1979 — in the early days of criminal psychology and criminal profiling at the Federal Bureau of Investigation — Mindhunter revolves around FBI agents Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) and Bill Tench (Holt McCallany), who interview imprisoned serial killers in order to understand how such criminals think and apply this knowledge to solving ongoing cases.

I mean come on. I am ready to catch some serial killers right now. However, this is where it’s interesting. Most crime shows ask the question, “Who did it?” Mindhunter looks to ask the question “Why did they do it?” It’s a different take on a somewhat crowded genre of TV. However, I do hope they eventually try to use what they learn to go out in the field and apply it to catch real serial killers.

Here are some important notes as to why I’m excited for this show:

– The main charcter, Holden Ford, played by Jonathan Groff, is based on John E. Douglas. For those who don’t know, John E. Douglas was one of the first criminal profilers in the FBI. Why should you know him? Well, John E. Douglas has provided inspiration for several characters including Jack Crawford from The Silence of the Lambs. PHENOMENAL movie. The Silence of the Lambs is my second favorite movie ever behind the Shawshank Redemption. I’m not a psychopath. I just like psychopaths in movies. So Mindhunter, in a way, is kind’ve like the prequel to Silence.

The Silence of the Lambs

– David Fincher and Charlize Theron are executive producers. David Fincher is Mr. Suspense and Plot Twists. He’s addicted to them. Seven, The Social Network, Fight Club, Gone Girl, House of Cards. His resume speaks for himself. This man knows how to produce successful movies and shows.

– Mindhunter was already renewed for a second season. I love this move and I hate this move. I love it because it’s probably very entertaining and early screenings have proven people will like it. Hence, why they already renewed it. However, I do hate this move because I’m afraid the show will take its time in terms of character development and moving the plot. With a second season already guaranteed, the show does not have to rush into any major plot lines or stories. I understand that most showrunners will envision multiple season for their shows, but I feel that if it’s not guaranteed right away, they won’t hold back in the beginning. It’s not a glaring hole, but it does make me a little concerned.

So if you find yourself with some free time in between playoff baseball, fire up Mindhunter. It’s the perfect show to occupy your time for the next two weeks before Stranger Things comes back again.