Originally airing on Reelz in the US as two two-hour episodes, Ted Bundy: Serial Monster was later aired on the Really channel in the UK and Ireland as four one-hour episodes. And honestly, there isn't a huge amount to say about it, as it's your basic introductory piece. Played in reconstructions by Adam Long
, the show relates Ted Bundy
's bio from his birth in Burlington, Vermont in November 1946 to his execution in the electric chair in Florida in January 1989.
The show opens with one of Bundy's creepiest moments - the audio from an interview with Det. Robert D. Keppel
shortly before his execution in which he admitted to murdering Georgann Hawkins in 1974, passionlessly whispering, "the Hawkins girl's head was severed and taken up the road about 25 to 50 yards and buried in a location about ten yards west of the road on a rocky hillside" (Keppel was interviewing Bundy in the hopes of getting some insight into the Green River Killer case, as related in Keppel's 1995 book, The Riverman: Ted Bundy and I Hunt for the Green River Killer).
Naturally enough, the show foregrounds certain elements of Bundy's life. For example, it gives quite a bit of info on something barely mentioned in Joe Berlinger
's Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes (2019)
; Bundy's first serious romantic relationship, with Diane Edwards, who called him "pitifully weak" before breaking up with him. This is seen as a pivotal event by several of the interviewees (including Kevin Sullivan
, author of The Bundy Murders: A Comprehensive History, crime writer Shirley Lynn Scott
, and forensic psychologist Shannon Smith
), who trace much of Bundy's rage and hatred for women back to his humiliation at Edwards's hands. There's also plenty of info on someone not mentioned in Conversations; the first woman to escape Bundy's clutches, Rhonda Stapley
, who remained silent about her ordeal for 40 years for fear of how her conservative family would react. The show also gives some information on something ignored in both Conversations and Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019)
; Bundy's attempts to inculcate his girlfriend Elizabeth Kendall
into rough sex, especially choking. It also shows extracts from his famous last interview, with nm10401252
, in which he traces his psychopathy back to watching porn as a child. And the show ends on the tantalising question (ignored in Conversations) that Bundy's maternal grandfather may have been his biological father.
The biggest downside is the unnecessary sensationalism. If there's one thing the Bundy case doesn't require, it's more salaciousness, but as the "Serial Monster" title indicates, everything is ramped up here to a ridiculous degree, especially the voiceover narration. Delivered by the show's executive producer Michael Hoff
as if he's reading from an especially bad comic, the opening narration dramatically intones, "he's heartless, merciless, a voracious hunter of women, but what lies behind the psychopathic mind of a raging serial killer, what drives his insatiable lust for power, for control, for blood?" And really, it stays in that key for the entire four hours.
One thing that I thought worked very well, however, (albeit part of the sensationalist tendencies) is the motif of flashing shots of the real Bundy onto actor Adam Long's face. It's a little garish, but it's also somewhat unsettling and jolting, which was presumably the point.
So, all in all, nothing here that you wouldn't be able to find from reading Bundy's Wikipedia page, but as an introduction to the subject, it's fairly solid.