REVIEW: Who Killed Jill Dando is Netflix at its most interesting and frustrating
The Jill Dando murder is at the core of Netflix's brand new documentary series.
Even if you weren't around when Jill Dando was a celebrity, this new three-part Netflix documentary into the investigation into her murder lets you know pretty quickly the size and scope of this story.
On multiple occasions, Dando is compared in popularity and public opinion to Diana Spencer, with one talking head claiming that Dando's death was the second most impactful moment in modern British memory after the passing of the former Princess of Wales.
Elsewhere we're told that Dando's murder might have involved an assassin from Serbia, or a potentially unhinged neighbour who is currently residing in County Cork, or a former lover who also happened to be her quite-high-up-in-the-BBC boss. The central question, Who Killed Jill Dando?, is a tantalising one, but unfortunately like too many recent Netflix documentaries, we spend too much time circling the question instead of any real attempts to actually get answers.
That isn't to say that every Netflix documentary needs to go down the Serial route of actually trying to find the truth, but actively avoiding any real questions at all seems counterproductive. Too often now, these documentaries amount to little more than visual representations of Wikipedia pages with some Trent Reznor-y music playing over the whole thing.
Each of the Who Killed Jill Dando? episodes are less than an hour long
Which isn't to say that Who Killed Jill Dando? is completely without merit, far from it. If anything, it is refreshing to actually spend some time in the hindsight company of a TV personality who was so universally beloved, equally adept at hard news and frothy magazine programming.
It is that likability that does initially fuel the massive interest behind her murder in her own front garden in 1999, which was reported at the time as being the biggest manhunt for a killer in the UK since the Yorkshire Ripper in the late 1970s. Interviews with Dando's friends, colleagues, family, exes, manager, even hairdresser all amount to the same thing; telling us that this was a great person who had their life ended too early.
As a spotlight on a particular celebrity and the impact of their passing, the documentary shines, but in the most basic ways of an investigation, it falls flat. It presents every major suspect and theory around Dando's murder, but seems satisfied in the basic show and tell aspect of the information, never unravelling or connecting anything new.
At one point, an interviewee questions why the police never checked the video on the buses in the area following the murder. The very next shot cuts to the head of the investigation... but he is not asked the question. It is one of many frustrating moments through the three episodes when an obvious question crops up, and you're left wondering why these documentarians didn't... y'know... ask the question they just presented to us.
You can almost hear the producers behind the camera saying: "Wouldn't that be an interesting question to ask someone involved in this murder case? Okay, moving on..."
All questions, no answers, but time well spent with a deserving person of interest, all three episodes of Who Killed Jill Dando are available to watch on Netflix right now.
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