Television Critic Glenn Garvin checks out the latest true crime anthology re-enactment to hit the airwaves, thanks to Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf:
It represents the most audacious branding effort since back in the 1950s when entire shows were named after the products that sponsored them, like The Texaco Star Theater. In this, executive producer Dick Wolf is employing the name of his cookie-cutter Law & Order series (at least seven of them so far, not distinguishable from one another by the human eye) to launch an entirely unrelated anthology true-crime series. If this works, I expect Law & Order: Chupacabra and Law & Order: Kardashian Butt-Sculpting to follow shortly.
Even more startlingly, The Menendez Brothers is not a bad show at all. Wolf's laconic just-the-bloodily-murderous-facts-ma'am approach mixes surprisingly well with the tabloid-trash genre. When your show stars parent-killing sociopaths who raise incestuous child-molestation as a defense, you don't need to toss Lady Gaga or Siegfried and Roy into the mix.
Before O.J. and the white Bronco drove into our lives, the Menendez brothers seemed like the made-for-TV true crime couple of the century. Vacuous Beverly Hills brats, they were accused in 1989 of shotgunning their wealthy parents to death so they could buy Porches and tennis coaches without taking a lot of lip about it. Their first trial, broadcast daily by Court TV (the early incarnation of what is today TruTV) was a national sensation—or so we thought until O.J came long and redefined the term.