The Staircase... Reviewed!

Thanks so much for checking out this review and shout out to Warner Brothers for providing us with a copy in order to review it for you. That said... my opinions are my own.

There are so many twists and turns revolving around... The Staircase, are you ready for this?

Story: Inspired by a true story, this limited series... goes hard in the paint from the very beginning. My guess is they wanted to showcase the scene of what was already known from the true story.

So that initial scene shows the lady of the home, Kathleen Peterson (played by Toni Collette), laying lifeless at the bottom of the stairs with the cops on the scene. They come from the angle of the son, Todd Peterson (played by Patrick Schwarzenegger) pulling up to the house and begging to get in. As soon as he enters the house he comes across his stepmother's body... before running forward to find his dad in the kitchen.

His dad was drenched in blood but at this time things allegedly point to her falling down the stairs until... they officially declare it a murder scene.

This isn't for the faint at heart, they display some extremely graphic scenes in this series, but... for those who are fans of court TV, documentaries, and suspenseful (situations I call) play-by-plays... you should enjoy this.

If I could sum it up in two words, they'd be... Brutal Brilliance. Certainly, this is graphic as mentioned, but it's brilliantly written.

So initially you get that... scene, followed by a backstory that leads up to that... scene. Michael and Kathleen are a blended family with a squad of adult children that represent... chess pieces on this board along with other family members and... associates sprinkled in here and there.

I won't explain the ins and outs, but you get to see the lives of all these members of the  Peterson household before and after the incident. Families have their ups and downs, and you see them play out like the average family in some aspects (i.e. Margaret Ratliff getting dumped on by her dad based on her bad grades in college)... while others showcase the downside of drugs and alcohol to a damaging degree (i.e. Todd Peterson). These aren't the only people who need to clean up their act... and Clayton Peterson had to learn the hard way in order to put his life back together. 

So you see glimpses of their individual dysfunctions leading up to the trial and afterward... which put the majority of the siblings on one side with their dad, and the opposition on the side with the prosecutor.

You get to see how these sides are formed, and reactions to the trial + certain details in general like the emotions the siblings and family deal with while trying to make sense of this potential murder at the hands of dear old daddy. You might end up scratching your head as well, but... keep your eyes on the screen because there are multiple details that you should find interesting. It's a tangled web to say the least.

You see the various avenues that this story comes from (past, present, and future)... and the future Michael may throw you for a loop initially when seen with Sophie Brussard (Juliette Binoche), but...  as the series moves forward the dots are connected for your viewing pleasure. At times you might get frustrated with the way they shift from date to date, and then... BAM, they hit you again.

It goes from you being geared up to going to trial, and then the trial, and then the... documentary... and then the roller coaster ride continues. I can say this 2 time Emmy nominated experience deserves at least the nominations. I think the biggest challenge for me was not jumping toward the end, and it wasn't because it wasn't interesting, but at times... I wanted to see what ultimately happened as soon as possible (since I wasn't aware of the story). Anyway, I think the overall story is interesting, yet... frustrating at the same time based on the timeline fluctuations and... other occurrences in the limited series (i.e. multiple arguments emerging and then vanishing). I think they did the timeline fluctuation to make things interesting and keep a good pace, and it works to a degree, but (for me) it comes with its frustrations. The Staircase... is rated MA for Mature Audiences.

Visuals: Visually speaking, you had some dramatic shots here and there. Aside from... the staircase, you also had dramatic visuals via the drive to court (which was probably the best), a few pool scenes, drunken scenes, and the last scene. The drive to court placed the family in a group of vehicles with the camera flipping from one vehicle, showcasing everyone inside, and on to the next. It wasn't just a transition, it went through... in a way where the camera flipped and had some upside-down angles as well.

The scenes are vibrant as expected and delivered close-ups, high angles, plenty of mediums, wides, over-the-shoulders, and birds-eye views tucked in there.

Audio: The audio was clean, and crisp throughout. Can't I say I noticed anything specific about the audio that really wowed me, although I liked how they played certain music tracks to showcase the hip hop from that time period. Even in the reenactments of the speculated occurrences on the staircase, you heard the unsettling sounds involved with Kathleen fighting for her life. The quality audio was delivered in Dolby Digital 5.1.

Price + Extras:  Pricewise, The Staircase, comes in at $24.98 on DVD. I can't argue with it, but... the sweet spot in my opinion would be $19.99 (the features help justify the extra $4.99). You get 8 episodes that run for about an hour per episode, but... you also get special features that include:

  • 8 Inside the Episode Featurettes
  • Peterson Home Set Tour
  • The Art of Acting
  • Sustainable Set Tour
  • Georgia Public Locations
  • The Owl Theory
If you purchase this, you should appreciate the extras like... The Owl Theory, especially if it's something that makes the most sense to you. I don't want to spoil it, so I tried to avoid speaking on certain things, I think the owl theory makes the most sense based on the way it looked. You can also enjoy the limited series digitally... here.

Story 4

Visuals 5

Audio 5

Price + Extras 5

4.75 out of 5 Cool Points

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