Ready for something funny? There is a show on TV right now called “Deadly Dentists.”
Maybe you don’t find it that funny, but I did for a couple of reasons. For one, I’m very easily entertained and number two, is this what it’s come down to? Are we out of ideas? Are there no more nail-biting crime shockers out there? Is this all there is?
Not only that, but ARE THERE ENOUGH HOMICIDAL DENTISTS TO WARRANT THEIR OWN TV SHOW?
Well, don’t worry, I’ve got your back. I have been watching true crime TV for, oh, thirty years (yikes) and I’ve made a list of shows that are WAY better than “Deadly Dentists.”
These are shows that I watch regularly and only miss an episode if my cable goes out and all of my DVR recordings go missing (that actually happened). Also, I only listed shows that you can currently watch on TV. I have a MILLION others I could have listed, but it might be difficult to find them. So, with that in mind, here are the 5 true crime shows you should be watching:
Disappeared (Investigation Discovery)
I was in NYC 3 years ago and I stayed up until 4 a.m. one night watching episode after episode. I mean, cool, I was on vacation, but it didn’t make for a very energetic next day. I’ve seen most of these episodes more than once (there are 9 seasons) and I even know someone who was IN one of the episodes (am I totally cool or what? *eyeroll*).
These are not stories about homicidal maniacs, but of regular people that literally disappear off the face of the earth. To me, having a friend or family member go missing is a horror I can’t even imagine. You’ve all heard of Natalee Holloway or Chandra Levy, but there are also plenty of “regular” people that go missing every year. The girl who goes outside to smoke at a Metallica concert and is never seen again (Season 4 Episode 3, “Heavy Metal Mystery”). An 8-year-old boy who goes missing after his mom steps outside for 5 minutes (Season 8 Episode 8, “About a Boy”). A 35-year-old who leaves a note saying that she’s going to the store and never returns (Season 8 Episode 13, “The Long Way Home”).
This is the show where I first heard about the oft-mentioned Maura Murray (Season 1 Episode 6). The stories are engrossing and heartbreaking and the narrator’s voice is so soothing. Except Season 7 when they had a random dude and his voice was NOT soothing. I give you permission to skip that season.
American Monster (Investigation Discovery)
This show is the real deal. This show IS about killers, but you get to know them in a more intimate way than you would with a run-of-the-mill crime show. Every episode starts with an introduction to a family via home movies and interviews. It’s cool because you’re all like, “Aw, look at this family having a nice picnic! They go on trips to Europe, play basketball and go fishing together. Man, they look just like my next door neighbors!” And then, BAM, you find out that the dad has been using the family van to drive around and kill women (Episode 2, “Family Snapshot”). Or you follow an upstanding family in the 1960’s, watching them go to church, have picnics (what’s with these picnics?) and celebrate holidays and then, BAM. I won’t tell you what the mom did, but just watch Episode 3 (“Alabama Murder Mystery”) and find out for yourself.
48 Hours (CBS)
This is the show that got me started in my so-called “crime career.” When every other 14-year-old was out on a Saturday night, I was horizontal on the couch with the channel turned to CBS (loser much?). It’s the longest-running true crime show (since 1988!) and it’s won 20 freaking Emmy awards. I know people always go bananas over Dateline, but I think that 48 Hours FAR surpasses Dateline in quality. The stories presented are of equal caliber to Dateline’s, but the journalistic integrity of 48 Hours and the reporters have an edge that Dateline lacks. Sorry, Keith Morrison, but I like Erin Moriarty better.
Try these episodes: “Buried Truth” (story about real estate broker Todd Kohlhepp who was recently arrested for murder and for keeping a woman locked in a trailer), “Dear Savanna” (about a mother who goes on the run with her daughter for 20 years), and “The Mortician, The Murder, The Movie” (did a mortician kill an older wealthy woman-friend and throw her in a deep freeze just to get her money?).
DID he kill her for the money? I watched it and still can’t figure it out.
Evil Lives Here (Investigation Discovery)
So, today a man nicknamed the “Tourniquet Killer” was executed. His name was Anthony Shore and he was convicted of murdering 5 girls. He sat on death row for 12 years and it was the first execution of 2018. At first, I didn’t think much of it until I remembered seeing an episode of Evil Lives Here featuring his daughter, Tiffany (Season 2 Episode 6, “My Secret Nightmare”). When she described growing up with her sister and her dad she spoke about how evil and terrifying he was. He was her dad, however, and she kept his secrets. Eventually, she finds out that he was much, much worse than she ever thought and tries to comes to terms with the monster that he was.
This show is fairly similar to American Monster, but without the home videos. Today I watched an episode featuring the brother of Warren Jeffs (convicted felon and polygamist leader of the FLDS church). This was Season 2 Episode 3, “My Brother, The Devil” and that guy was seriously worse than I thought, if that’s possible. The majority of the cases are ones you’ve never heard of, but once in awhile you get a sneak peek into some more well-known cases. Like Ben Rhoades, the Truck Stop Killer. Know about that guy? No? Well, watch Season 3 Episode 3, “Deadly Fetish” and let me know what you think of him. Side note: I wrote THIS POST awhile ago about psychopaths and it featured our friend, the Truck Stop Killer. Check it out.
The Hunt with John Walsh (CNN)
Host of America’s Most Wanted, father of murdered son, Adam Walsh. We all know his story and have seen him on TV for CENTURIES (it seems like it, anyway, right?).
This show is similar to AMW only because he is broadcasting the names and faces of people that are on the run, but other than that, you can expect better. Better because the show isn’t John Walsh walking around a cheesy “call center” yelling about fugitives. This show’s production is on a whole other level and the reenactments are realistic and paced really well (got to build the suspense, yo!).
Each episode covers either one or two fugitives and some of them are truly scary. Some of the stories are INSANE. It follows the typical format: interviews with John Walsh mixed in the reenactments and interviews with the family and/or victims. There is one episode that I will never forget and because my description would never do it justice, you can read about it in the link RIGHT HERE. For those of you that live in Minnesota and are familiar with the story, they did an episode on Jacob Wetterling. I know this story inside and out and I was STILL riveted.
Bonus: You can also find this show on Netflix.
The Ones I Didn’t Mention
I know I said that I wouldn’t list shows that aren’t currently on TV, BUT if you can find them, A&E used to broadcast American Justice and Cold Case Files. They were both narrated by Bill Kurtis (the BEST voice in crime TV) and I watch them whenever they happen to be on TV (you can find some of them on YouTube). A&E recently revived Cold Case Files with Danny Glover narrating, but, sadly, it’s just not the same. Also, if you have HBO Go, you can watch all of the old episodes of Autopsy. There’s some really weird, good stuff on that show (and some images I’ll never get out of my head).
Finally, two words: Forensic Files. I didn’t need to tell you about that one, though, did I? They are on HLN 24 hours a day, swear to god.
What are your favorites? What should I be watching??