3 July 2012 | Lechuguilla
True Criminal Investigation
One of the more credible "reality TV" series, "The First 48" (which refers to the first 48 hours of a crime investigation) shows real detectives investigating real crimes. All POIs are real. There are no actors, no script.
Each episode lasts about 45 minutes, and begins as the crime investigation begins. The episode then ends with the identity of the perpetrator. In between, cops query neighbors, talk strategy among themselves, search databases, make phone calls, and analyze forensics. It's gritty work. Most of the time, cases are solved, but not always. Usually, the criminal leaves obvious clues, as he or she is not very smart.
Color cinematography is fine. Images are clear and sharp. Given the docudrama approach, editing is important. All the episodes I watched had fine editing. In voice-over, a narrator describes what's going on and why, to help guide viewers.
My only complaint is that some episodes are sewn together in one long sequence. You get the setup for "Loved To Death" (for example), only to be interrupted by the setup for "Unmasked" (a different episode). Then during "Unmasked", the program switches back to "Loved To Death". This back-and-forth presentation of two episodes is annoying. It kills each story's continuity.
I'm not fond of the "reality-TV" genre. But here, the action is not contrived. And there are no Hollywood "stars", mercifully! Overall, "The First 48" is a fine series that at least tries to introduce some reality into a film genre that historically has been way too glamorized.