Parents' Guide to

Trial 4

By Marty Brown, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 17+

Messy crime docu explores police corruption and racism.

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True crime shows often use the central case as way to investigate larger issues. Trial 4 uses Sean Ellis's false imprisonment as a way to examine systematic racism within the Boston police department and, by extension, the United States. This is a worthy and timely subject, and one complicated enough to more than warrant an eight-hour documentary. Yet, like many true crime shows, Trial 4 consistently feels padded. There are extended montages of low-income housing, and segments where Ellis watches his own trial -- things that have some interest but don't really serve the overarching story. When dealing with something as complex as the relationship between law enforcement and systematic racism, the show's substance needs to be sharp and clear enough to appeal to those who wouldn't typically delve too deep. Ultimately, Trial 4 is mostly an unorganized mess, and the sweeping significance of the story gets lost in the system.

TV Details

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