Advertisement

True-crime show revisits Palczynski Baltimore saga

Just in case the Maryland region didn't get enough low-rent, true-crime TV treatment last week with William Shatner interviewing Lee Boyd Malvo for an on-the-cheap A&E special on the "DC Sniper" saga, Baltimore County takes its turn in the tabloid spotlight Wednesday night with the premiere of "Kidnapped for Love."

This hourlong police-beat blast from the past revisits and re-creates the Joseph Chester Palczynski (pictured) story from 2000 with its four homicides and 97-hour hostage situation in Dundalk.

Advertisement

The production airs at 10 p.m. Wednesday on the Investigation Discovery channel, which is  Channel 111 on Comcast in both Baltimore City and Baltimore County. (Viewers need to subscribe to the Digital Preferred tier to receive the channels.)

My biggest problems with the program involves the re-creation aspect -- particularly a re-creation of an incident described in the program as Palczynski taking his former girlfriend into the woods and reportedly raping her.

I am not going into detail here in an effort to avoid trafficking in the same kinds of tabloid data this TV "special" does. But to make my point I need to let you know that actors are used to show some of what allegedly took place between Placzynski and the young woman in the woods. And the close-ups of the face of the actress suggest reactions and behavior on her part that I think some will find controversial. I find this entire re-creation exploitative.

This is one of the reasons I hate such TV re-creations. If the story isn't powerful enough to be told in a documentary fashion adhering to the standards of traditional journalism, then why tell it -- unless you are interested in entertainment, rather than truth. I don't think there is any question what the primary goal of this "special" is.

Several of the Baltimore County police and local TV media participants in the 97-hour hostage story that involved Palczynski and the family of his one-time girlfriend serve as talking heads in the Investigation Discovery program. I am not going to judge their involvement.

I hope viewers will share their judgments of "Kidnapped for Love" here after the program airs.

Advertisement
Advertisement