It seems clear that television audiences love to devour true crime documentary series — between shows like Making a Murderer and Manhunt: Unabomber and films like The Jinx and Amanda Knox, the genre has ascended to a whole new level of popularity in recent years. The Discovery Channel, which is no stranger to compelling documentary filmmaking, is about to debut a new venture that takes the same premise but with a new angle. The Interrogation Room is the next true crime show you should be paying attention to when it starts airing on Discovery on Jan. 4 at 10 p.m. ET. The docuseries not only examines real crimes, it also dissects the methods detective use to get a confession out of the suspects at hand. The show, at least in its premiere, has a fascinating story that will make you root for the truth to be uncovered.
The Interrogation Room (senior executive producer: Jeanie Vink for Discovery Channel) is a refreshing watch amidst the unfortunate turns that these kinds of shows can tend to take — Netflix's The Confession Tapes, for example, focuses on the unsavory and arguably unfair ways some detectives allegedly squeeze false or less-than-genuine confessions out of people who otherwise would have maintained their innocence. Viewers find themselves — often justifiably — hoping for the downfall of detectives who seem not to care about the authenticity of a confession as long as it allows them to close a case. The Interrogation Room, however, takes the opposite route, arming viewers with solid evidence and narratives that have them decidedly pulling for the truth, which in these cases often falls on the side of the authorities.
In the first episode of The Interrogation Room, the show lays all the evidence out on the table for viewers — due to some truly compelling real-life surveillance footage, we pretty much know exactly what went down in this tragic home invasion turned murder. As one detective points out, they know what happened and they know how it happened, they just don't know who pulled off the plan. That's what sets this show apart — it's focused directly on the techniques the detectives implement to find out who knows what. And viewers are invited along for the ride with footage taken directly from the rooms where detectives took these suspects to task.
It's incredibly interesting to see how detectives take people who they are almost completely certain are at least accomplices to the crime and finally get true, genuine information from them. For example, one detective decides not to tell his suspect that the authorities have video evidence that clearly shows masked men entering the house in question. This plays to his advantage when his suspect recounts the events of that night with almost exact play-by-plays of what the video depicts. This, the detective says, confirmed to them that he was being truthful and open. "If you have a little information, you have a lot of information," one detective says.
Ultimately, The Interrogation Room is tough to watch, but not for the reasons you may expect. Testimonies from the victim's real-life girlfriend and mother in the season premiere put a human face to the pain felt by a crime and further invests you in the results of the interrogation, hoping for the family to receive some sort of closure. It's heartening to see detectives doing their jobs properly — and new cases will be explored each week.
The Interrogation Room's debut offers a sense of closure that viewers rarely receive from true-crime documentaries. It paints a respectable and capable picture of these investigation teams, which, despite the grisly and heartbreaking crimes, means the show remains hopeful for resolution at its core. With each episode offering a new, unique story, that reassuring tone will likely continue throughout the series — and motivate viewers to tune in, waiting to see what happens next.