“On Death Row”----Friday night at 10 on Investigation Discovery
TV execs are like real-estate brokers. They’re always looking for the next
First, there were the gold-digging housewives of Orange County, then
gold-wearing guidos of New Jersey, then real gold mines of Alaska and, most
recently, wild men who’ve found gold in ’gators on the Louisiana Bayou.
So where is TV’s next great golden neighborhood?
How about death row?
Just yesterday, we reported that the biggest show in China, “Interviews Before
Execution,” with 40 million viewers weekly, is a series in which a woman with a
giant bouffant named Ding Yu, interviews death-row prisoners just before they
Not to be outdone in the death-as-entertainment arena comes an American show,
“On Death Row,” from acclaimed German auteur/eccentric Werner Herzog, maker of
such death classics as “Grizzly Man,” which documented one man’s summers with
grizzly bears — until they ate him.
“On Death Row”— which arose out of Herzog’s film “Into the Abyss,” about 2
death-row inmates who were executed eight days after the last taping — is a
4-episode series with Herzog in the Ding Yu role.
Herzog, a death-penalty opponent, visits death-row inmates over the course of
several interviews discussing their crimes, their regrets (if any) and their
feelings (also if any).
First up Friday night is wife-killer James Barnes.
While in prison, Barnes found religion and decided to come clean about another
murder. This confession, much to his surprise, ended up putting him on death
Surprising to the rest of us is that during Herzog’s interviews, Barnes admits
to other murders.
Herzog, who is nobody’s fool, realizes that these confessions mean further
delays in Barnes’ execution while they are investigated. It becomes an
on-camera game of who is playing whom.
The problem is that “On Death Row,” makes you feel like you need a long shower.
This is especially true when a freaking murderer, who gets his 15 minutes of
fame, says “There are other crimes out there for which I never been
associated,” and other comments, such as when he describes a young man he
killed. “He was still shiny,” he says. “Before you get to a certain age you
still have a gleam, a glow.”
This one gets catergorized as both yuck and yikes TV. Not for the weak of
stomach or pure of heart.
(source: New York Post)