Missing: Dead or Alive is a crime documentary series that has just been released on Netflix. Set in the USA, it introduces us to the investigative unit of the Missing Persons Department of Richland County. The series has four episodes in total, and the length of each episode ranges from roughly thirty minutes to an hour. It aims to be an interesting crime docuseries featuring four separate investigative stories in each episode, but all in all, it doesn't do much more than end up as an extremely generic series with some gravitating qualities.
The series begins with our introduction to Officer Viv Rains, transferred from Major Crimes. She described the Missing Persons department as quite similar to it. She says, "When can a missing person's case turn into a major crime case? There is no telling". This is echoed throughout the four episodes as you go through the various missing persons' stories and try to piece together what could've happened to them and where they could've gone.
The thing about true crime documentary series like this is that no matter how generic they tend to be, they can still manage to be interesting because the human mind's curiosity is just so vast. The fact that in true crime cases, there can be countless twists and turns means that you need to stick around till the end to make sure you know what actually happened. This is what makes this series quite watchable, despite its mundane quality.
The first case revolves around a 61-year-old woman named Lorraine Garcia, reported missing by her ex-daughter-in-law. I don't want to spoil it, but to a large extent, it seems like an open-and-shut case. Everything about the case—the premise, the characters involved, the suspect—all adds up absolutely perfectly. The victim is the mother of a war-returned son who has a history of violence. His ex-wife, who used to stay in contact with the victim, reports that she hasn't spoken to her in months and is getting worried. Meanwhile, when the sheriff's department turns up at the house, they find the most surreal situation. Doors with knobs having strings, burnt pictures, photo frames, and mattresses outside, among other details The son, Tony Garcia, upon being contacted by the department, pretends to have no clue. It is a really bizarre and suspicious situation.
I was completely convinced that the son just straight-up murdered the mother since all the evidence pointed towards it. However, I felt that it just couldn't be that simple, or could it? I stuck around till the end and was genuinely surprised by the ending of that case (which continued till the next episode, by the way). So I will say that it isn't necessarily a show that you should completely skip because it does manage to hold you for the roughly three or four hours of runtime that it has.
The investigative unit is actually pretty engaging and interesting. They aren't characters that you will remember for a long time, but for the short duration of this series, they feel good to have around for the journey. My personal favorite was Officer J.P. In the second episode, his monologue with a perpetrator's accomplice was especially impressive. It felt like it came from a place that most people could relate to. The frustration that law enforcement has to go through just to do their job is astounding.
Overall, the documentary series is very average. It doesn't stand out in a particular way, but I feel like if you have nothing better to do and want to tune into something easy to follow through on in the background while working on something, this might be something you like. It reminded me of the late-night true crime shows that would come on the Discovery Channel or even History TV 18.
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