When TV is sheer murder

Crime and murder are staple diets of television with good reason. Who doesn’t love a good mystery?

There are two shows about to pop up on our screens that go a little beyond the normal dramatisation of CSI or Law and Order.

One is a US reality show simply titled Murder. It sees participants solving true-life murder-scene re-enactments. Yep, think bloody bedrooms with bullet-ridden corpses all there for aspiring sleuths to wander amongst.

All of the cases have been solved and closed, but that doesn’t stop Americans from gleefully dividing into two teams to beat their opponents. They even show quick photos of actual autopsies. The series will air at 8:30pm Monday Feb 25 on FOX8. Here’s the US promo.

Meanwhile, SBS also has a documentary coming up called, How To Commit The Perfect Murder. Filled with forensic experts, it suggests, “a perfect murder would have to combine a lot of elements. A poison that appeared to be a mystery illness, a location where trace evidence would go unnoticed and a way to dispose of the body completely. It might then be possible but the odds favour the police.”

It airs 8:30pm Sunday night on SBS.

Press Release:

Modern forensic science should make it impossible to commit murder and get away with it. But how easy would it be to outfox the forensic detectives?

On Sunday February 24 at 8:30pm SBS will screen How to Commit the Perfect Murder in the Science timeslot. With the help of top forensic scientists, and real-life murder investigations, this chilling documentary explores whether it’s possible to commit a flawless and undetectable crime.

Interviewing a number of experts, How to Commit the Perfect Murder examines many types of murder from poisonings to accidental deaths. The experts explain the techniques used to discover time and cause of death – revealing just how much can be unlocked from seemingly small amounts of information. As the program reveals, wherever a body is dumped, there will be a branch of science to help, meteorologists, pollen experts or fire investigators. And as the narrator suggests, there will always be someone who can work out what happened. That’s why many murderers go one step further and attempt to destroy the body altogether.

The body itself is the most important piece of evidence in any murder. Forensic Pathologist Dr Richard Sheppard reveals the crucial clues that give away the secrets of a suspicious death. “The best a pathologist can do is estimate a death within 5 hours,” says Sheppard. “And that’s only in the first 24 hours after death.” Dr Lee Geoff can work out a time of death from just a few maggots on a corpse. To really understand the way a human decomposes he relies on experiments – and dead pigs make ideal human models.

Other key specialists in their fields show how a genuine suicidal hanging can be distinguished from a murderous one and how just a few maggots can help identify the time of death. “Forensic evidence is always there,” says Dr Mike Rickard. “It doesn’t lie. It doesn’t forget.” The experts go on to test a few fictional ideas, like could an icicle, melting away to leave no trace, be used as a weapon to kill someone?

As the program explains, a perfect murder would have to combine a lot of elements. A poison that appeared to be a mystery illness, a location where trace evidence would go unnoticed and a way to dispose of the body completely. It might then be possible but the odds favour the police. A murderer need only make one mistake and the forensic scientist will be on his trail.

In How to Commit the Perfect Murder, we are taken on a gripping and sometimes gruesome adventure that delivers everything the title promises.

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