Netflix’s ‘The Staircase’

(Above: Michael Peterson in ‘The Staircase.’ Source: YouTube screenshot)

Murder, he wrote?

Novelist Michael Peterson is the subject of a 13-episode documentary series debuting today on Netflix.

The Staircase tells the true story of Peterson, whose wife Kathleen was found dead at the bottom of a staircase in their Durham, North Carolina home in 2001. Peterson pleaded not guilty, but was tried and convicted for her murder, followed by a 16-year judicial battle.

The series itself has been 16 years in the making. French Documentary filmmaker Jean-Xavier de Lestrade secured unusual access to the case, enabling him to capture moment-by-moment, intimate details of Peterson, his family and defense team.

In 2004, de Lestrade released the first eight episodes under several series names including Soupçons (Suspicions), Death on the Staircase, and The Staircase. Two more installments revealing Peterson’s efforts to secure an appeal were released in 2013.

Netflix’s The Staircase features these episodes and three new ones documenting Peterson’s final efforts to overturn his conviction.

The entire series is described as “a gripping real-life courtroom thriller, offering a rare and revealing inside-look at a high-profile murder trial and is an engrossing examination of contemporary American justice.”

For more information, visit Netflix.

Netflix is the only streamer to offer all 13 episodes, although you can find a handful of episodes for purchase from other providers. In addition, Sundance Now subscribers can watch the original 2004 series.

The Staircase is by no means the first series to cover the case. Numerous shows such as Forensic Files and Dateline NBC dedicated episodes to the sensational story. You can view the 2011 Forensic Files episode “A Novel Idea” with an Amazon Prime subscription.

In case you’re wondering, Peterson’s novels dealt primarily with themes involving the military and war.

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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