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The Staircase 3 Seasons 2013

Season 1
4.4 out of 5 stars (96) IMDb 8.4/10

Eight years after The Staircase, the filmmakers revisit the Peterson case amidst explosive new developments.

Starring:
Michael Peterson, David Rudolf

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Season 1

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1. Chapter 1: Crime or Accident?

Michael Peterson relates his version of the fatal events of Dec. 9, 2001. Oscar winning filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade chronicles the sensational murder trial, granted unusual access to Peterson's lawyers and his immediate family.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 47 minutes Release date: January 6, 2013
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2. Chapter 2: Secrets and Lies

Michael Peterson's hidden sex life comes shockingly out in the open. Was his loving relationship with his wife authentic or a complete fraud?

TV-14 CC Runtime: 46 minutes Release date: January 13, 2013
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3. Chapter 3: A Striking Coincidence

The death of another woman close to Peterson from 17 years earlier sparks a new investigation, and casts major doubts over the defense case.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 47 minutes Release date: January 20, 2013
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4. Chapter 4: A Prosecution Trickery

On the eve of the trial, a damning report in the press threatens Peterson's defense.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 45 minutes Release date: January 27, 2013
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5. Chapter 5: A Weak Case

The prosecution presents its case that Michael Peterson murdered his wife. The defense questions the validity of the forensic testimony presented.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 48 minutes Release date: February 3, 2013
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6. Chapter 6: The Prosecution's Revenge

A reluctant witness with shadowy ties to Peterson rivets the attention of the courtroom. How will his testimony sway the jury?

TV-14 CC Runtime: 48 minutes Release date: February 10, 2013
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7. Chapter 7: The Blowpoke Returns

In another shocking twist to this murder trial, a new discovery comes to the attention of the defense.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 49 minutes Release date: February 17, 2013
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8. Chapter 8: The Verdict

Tension rises and Michael Peterson's fate hangs in the balance as the jury delivers the final verdict. Will justice be served?

TV-14 CC Runtime: 51 minutes Release date: February 24, 2013
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9. Chapter 9: Last Chance - Reopening the Case

Eight years ago, Michael Peterson was found guilty of killing his wife. Now there is only one chance left to appeal his case.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 45 minutes Release date: March 3, 2013
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10. Chapter 10: Last Chance - Final Appeal

A revelation opens the door for Michael Peterson's appeal. The prosecution's blood spatter expert has been outed as a fraud, and the defense team seeks a retrial.

TV-14 CC Runtime: 45 minutes Release date: March 3, 2013
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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I was ready to give this doc 5 stars until I actually looked up the FACTS of the case. (Oh, those pesky things--facts!) Although this documentary is a riveting look at the justice system, it is also a one-sided piece of propaganda that makes some major omissions which are damning to Peterson. About four episodes in, I kept thinking--"Okay, so when do we hear the other side?" Instead, we got episode after episode about how this is a loving father, beloved by all, and it's all a homophobic witchhunt by Southern idiots. Something about Peterson did not sit right with me. He reminded me a lot of Robert Durst of "The Jinx" (a much better, more balanced film). His perky, manicky manner seemed a bit out of touch with reality, or perhaps, to be the manner of a man who believes he is above the law and will never be convicted. We see a lot of his loyal, picture-perfect family--but only a brief, incoherent interview with his daughter Caitlyn, who thought he was guilty (and I do believe later won a multimillion dollar civil suit against him). He seems affected and overly dramatic, and cries when he knew the cameras were watching. And what about those cameras? As someone who has worked on documentaries myself, I was curious as to how LeStrade and his crew manage to be there right from the beginning, even before it became a controversial case. This reminds me a lot of the the Amanda Knox case, where her family hired a PR firm to present the Italians as bumbling idiots and her as a persecuted victim, when in reality, if you read the trial transcripts (in Italian), there was a more substantial case against her than her supporters would have you believe.Read more ›
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When Jean-Xavier de Lestrade's comprehensive, problematic, and strangely exhilarating documentary miniseries "The Staircase" premiered on the Sundance Channel in 2004, I sat transfixed for all eight episodes. It is certainly a program that has stayed with me through the years, and I even survived the 2007 Lifetime network obligatory ripped-from-the-headlines interpretation "The Staircase Murders." Having been unavailable on DVD for some time, I'm glad to see it being reissued (and made available on demand) as this is surely one of the more fascinating examples of documentary filmmaking that you're likely to encounter. Lestrade, an Oscar winner for "Murder on a Sunday Morning," took on the 2001 highly publicized murder trial of author Michael Peterson to unravel the follies and foibles of the legal system. I saw an interview with Lestrade in which he claimed that once he met the larger-than-life Peterson, the direction the documentary would take started to formulate itself. And that's easy to believe, Peterson is a character you can't tear your eyes away from.

I have heard "The Staircase" decried as both a masterpiece and as irresponsible trash. It tends to elicit a very strong reaction as the piece itself, and Lestrade's point of view, seem pretty well substantiated. Does he feel Peterson was innocent of orchestrating the murder of his wife? It certainly seems that he does. And yet despite this obvious slant, the film itself won't necessarily make you a believer. Further research into actual events, should you be interested, also lead one to see that certain principle evidence vital to convicting Peterson gets little play in the documentary. But I don't think establishing guilt or innocence has anything to do with the brilliance of "The Staircase.
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When The Staircase originally aired, I was practically running up to people on the street and grabbing them by their ears, refusing to release them until they agreed to watch this magnificent show. This was the early 2000s, the days before Netflix taught everyone how to watch big chunks of a show at a time at their leisure; getting someone to watch ten hours of North Carolina courtroom drama was a pretty big ask. I'm immensely relieved to see it slowly show up on streaming services, where I think it'll gain a new life thanks to all the people who watch The Jinx or Making A Murderer and need somewhere to go next. Because, really, that's the best way to sell this show: if you find it useful to watch series which offer to show viewers a completely absorbing human drama and an objectively awful travesty of justice simultaneously, you should just stop reading this review and start watching this show.

Full disclosure: I grew up in Durham, North Carolina, the town in which the events in this series take place which practically becomes a character in the story as events unfold. I never met the man personally, but his presence was hard to miss in Durham back in the 90s. I have friends who swam in the Petersons' pool and dated one of the stepdaughters. I remember seeing his columns in the paper, although I can't say I remember the substance of anything he wrote which I'd read. I remember my mom being absolutely revulsed by every facet of his campaign. Basically, my opinion of the guy was not high; he struck me as a blowhard who was making wildly inappropriate assumptions about the license he could take with the judicial system.
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