30 October, 2014

Some Thoughts on Last Week’s On the Case with Paula Zahn

The last couple of weeks have been strange ones. At first I thought it was just Octoberfeast — my annual candy-and-treat binge — coupled with the pre-Halloween lineup of holiday favorites on ABC Family. Last week, though, when I heard that On the Case with Paula Zahn announced their show about Anastasia WitbolsFeugen’s murder, I suddenly had something to point at and go, “Yeah, that’s what’s distracting me.” It’s as if I’d been pre-empting my regular schedule in favor of the absent-mindedness to come.

I had no idea the show was being filmed. You’d think a producer worth his or her salt would make at least a perfunctory effort to include the condemned man’s words, if for no other reason than to proclaim, like a carnival barker, Ladies and gentlemen: evil in the flesh! Thrill and gape, viewers, at the sinister visage of the Soulless Man! The perfect seasonal freak show, seventeen years (nearly to the day) of Anastasia’s grisly death. But they needed no interview, not really. Old photographs of the man as a boy, togged out in all his black-and-silver goth finery, were far more superficially tantalizing.

The outcome was predictable. Or so I’m told. The cable package to which Crossroads subscribes doesn’t include Investigation Discovery, and that might be just as well. A lot of my friends speculated that sitting through all the old talking heads — Anastasia’s emotional wreck of a father, the histrionic prosecutor, the ex-girlfriend whose vengeful lies cost me the rest of my life — more than by the surreal feeling of being talked about on TV, I’d be bothered by the sense of déjà vu harking back to my four-day trial, when the things that I thought most crucial to my defense were silenced by a misguided arbiter. At best, Paula Zahn’s show might’ve made me laugh for all its egregious faults and inaccuracies. (Since an ability to laugh at the badness of a thing is what carries me through the worst.)

Do I want to watch the show? Not especially. Would I, if it came on a different channel? Almost certainly. How might I respond if, hypothetically, I did watch the episode in question? By focusing renewed energy on my fight for justice... but only after another brief candy binge. I’m only human, after all.

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