True Crime Docuseries Review: Catching Killers (Season 2)

 After really enjoying the first season of Catching Killers, I wasn't let down at all by the second instalment.  Structured the same way as season one, it is a four part series that looks at individual cases in the first and second episode, with the third and fourth being a more in-depth look at a third case.

This series focuses on murderers that are eventually identified and caught, with the perspective being solely from the police detectives attempting to crack the case.  Most docuseries try and get a number of different points of view, from law enforcement to family members of victims to journalists.  This usually helps round out the impact of the horrible crimes, but in Catching Killers the streamlined angle works.

A lot of the time police are shown as just the people doing their jobs to put a stop to a terrible crime spree.  We get an insight into their methods, but Catching Killers really takes aim at the personal impact that the investigation has on the detectives.  These aren't people who are just doing their job, but who personally feel the weight and importance in keeping civilians safe.  They are open and honest about their emotions, and it isn't rare to see them break down during the interviews.  The toll that it takes on them is laid bare.

For myself, I found this second season riveting from a geographical perspective.  In Canada, the land where we like to think is safe and neighbourly, the idea of serial killers seems more like fiction than reality.  It is something that happens elsewhere, even though we have had a number of high profile cases that have gotten international attention.  The case that is presented in episodes three and four aren't just unsettling for me because they happened in my home country, but because of just how close some of the elements were to where I lived.

That personal impact aside, just like the first season, these four episodes feel incredibly well put together and communicated.  These episodes are extremely lean, and each just over a half an hour long.  With that short run time, everything that is looked at is important and there is a very recognizable lack of bloat when compared to a lot of docuseries.  We get an introduction to the case, meet the detectives, and then off to what they had to do to bring these crimes to an end.  In an age where it feels like Netflix just wants content to swell out it's platform, having something so concise is the irregularity and far from the norm.

When it comes to re-enactments, something which I almost always despise, they are pulled off well in Catching Killers.  They just act to enhance what is being said, and are never the emphasized point of drama for the story.  A re-enactment is always best when you may not even notice it, and that's the level of expertise that's woven into Catching Killers.  The sequences are without stylized techniques, and in no way are meant to grab your attention.  They are merely seasoning to enhance the meal.

From what I have seen, Catching Killers stands out in both seasons as a series that has its own perspective and approach that is unique from the standard fare.  I like that it isn't trying to be the same as everything else.  It has a purpose to show a specific angle to extremely unfortunate crimes and remains committed to that throughout the entirety of each episode.

And, most importantly, there is never anything close to a glorification of the crimes.  That's not to say that there isn't tension built through techniques such as score, but that's all part of reaching into the hearts of the viewer to suck them in.  It has nothing to do with exalting the crime, but just to grab the audience.  This is, after all, created for entertainment, and I have no issues with trying to increase the drama as long as it's not over the top or to glorify the criminals and their awful deeds.

If you are a true crime fan, I can't imagine you wouldn't enjoy Catching Killers: Season 2.  I also feel that you don't need to be a fan of that genre to enjoy it, but with a disclaimer that the content gets extremely dark in the third episode.  After two seasons, I really hope that this series continues.  Having that honest and sincere perspective from law enforcement is important, and reminds us that these are real people who are having to face an evil darkness to try and keep us all safe.

Rating - 3.5 out of 4 stars