Overkill: The Unsolved Murder Of JonBenét Is Expected, But Not Needed

Photo: Courtesy of Reelz
On December 26, 1996, JonBenét Ramsey's body was found in her Boulder, CO, home shortly after a ransom note claiming the child had been kidnapped was discovered. The bizarre circumstances of the murder became an American fascination. At the time, you would be hard-pressed to find someone without their own theories. 20 years after the murder, JonBenét's story still receives endless TV specials — despite the fact that the case has yet to receive a real break. Reelz's new special, Overkill: The Unsolved Murder of JonBenét isn't nearly as exploitive as it could be, but that doesn't make rehashing the original crime any more necessary. The new hour-and-a-half special is a fairly straightforward take on the crime, one that gives viewers a timeline of the events surrounding the case, rather than getting into the sticky territory of murder theories. It makes the talking heads-heavy special easier to digest than, say, CBS's recent miniseries, The Case Of: Jon Benét Ramsey, which pointed a finger at JonBenét's then 9-year-old brother, Burke. He has never been charged with the murder — nor has anyone else — and fortunately, the Reelz special is less interested in accusing specific people than it is interpreting why the murder was never solved. Did contaminated evidence make the criminal impossible to track down? Can inconclusive DNA evidence ever point to a single suspect? The special ponders smarter questions than, say, whether a 9-year-old had the strength to kill his sister with a flashlight — à la The Case Of: JonBenét Ramsey. The Overkill special hails from Lawrence Schiller, an expert on the Ramsey case who penned the non-fiction Ramsey account Perfect Murder, Perfect Town, and directed a film of the same name based on his own work. Yet, Overkill: The Unsolved Murder of JonBenét doesn't really give viewers already deeply familiar with the case a good reason to tune in. Essentially, the special is a rehash of all of the information that's already been presented. The doc proves this by weaving footage from Schiller's 2000 narrative film into the special, in lieu of reenactments. It's jarring and a reminder that the account of the events surrounding the murder hasn't swayed much. Ultimately, Overkill: The Unsolved Murder of JonBenét is a far more "fair" TV special about the Ramsey case as a whole, one that cites the media's influence in not only how the investigation was handled, but how people perceived the case and the guilt of certain parties. However, fair or not, it's worth wondering why we can't let this case rest.

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