Wednesday 4 October 2023

TV review: Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer, Netflix (2021)

In 1978 I was in Times Square. I remember dad took us into a cheap restaurant that had a juke box at the end of the table. 

‘Crime Scene: The Times Square Killer’ captures an era, a time of sleaze, peep shows, prostitution, and crime that back in the day I had no inkling about. I remember when we were walking at night in New York someone ran across the road chasing someone else or getting away from a pursuer.

It’s such a long time ago.

Ron Howard is one of the producers of this show, and it’s nicely made with a set of themes – exploitation of women, commerce, and the idea of freedom – but nothing is left unexplored. It’s as if it was as important for the filmmakers to depict the era as it was to show the progress of the police case.

The killer’s name is Richard Cottingham and he was prolific. Parts of the movie are unexpected, especially as relates to Cottingham’s later revelations. Even though he was convicted in the 1980s – a time when Times Square was changing as a result of the AIDS epidemic – he pled not guilty, so that the closure that families sought was absent.

Coming back to this period of time now is like going to a museum where they have dioramas. I used to love the Australian museum when I was small, the little displays in the long room showing dinosaurs underwater. In modern aquariums they do similar things with live displays by having the water go right up to the glass enabling children to see the fishes swimming. It’s as though you’re watching another world. Howard and his team have done something like this for 70s New York, and I remember being there. It was for me a visit too short by a long shot.

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