DATELINE: Armchair Detectives
Purported Zodiac Killer
Whether you’re hunting for Hitler or cursing Oak Island, you know you must have clicked onto the streaming History channel.
Their first season of Hunt for the Zodiac Killer delivers exactly what you come to expect from the cable TV’s pop history purveyors. That’s not necessarily a bad thing if you like your reality stars always self-congratulating each other for their brilliant detective skills.
If The Hunt for the Zodiac Killer sounds like one of those fake news documentaries, you probably would be right. Yet, it is a cold case and being insoluable should not mean it is not ripe for re-examination.
Fifty years after the legendary1960s serial murderer unofficially killed 37 innocent people and left a calling card of cryptological taunts with a unbreakable code, the network has assembled a reality show with a formula that can’t miss entertaining fans of psycho monsters running amok.
These researchers give Zodiac his due—and find even more victims to offer History Channel and history buffs.
When you put two retired homicide detectives in the field doing legwork like Sam spade and Philip Marlowe, then match them with a couple of cryptographical scientists and nerds with computers, you stir deliberately.
You have suddenly a fascinating show.
The gum shoes and the nerds play ping-pong with the clues. We keep telling ourselves that a supercomputer that has been programmed to think and act like a serial killer is not a good idea.
We keep wondering when the computer will turn into the Forbin Project supercomputer or HAL from 2001. Then again, the Zodiac maniac seems even brighter than Carmel, the computerized serial killer finder.
Before you know it, you may be hooked on the revelations. Several police departments refused to cooperate, at their own peril. They look like impediments to the crime solving.
By turning the zodiac killer into a mad genius, the show has a winning formula – and a frightening one.