HollywoodChicago.com RSS   Facebook   HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter   Free Giveaway E-mail   

TV Review: Riveting ‘The Central Park Five’ Debuts on PBS

Printer-friendly versionPrinter-friendly versionE-mail page to friendE-mail page to friendPDF versionPDF version
No votes yet

CHICAGO – Almost exactly 24 years ago (on April 19, 1989), Trisha Meili was raped and brutally assaulted in Central Park in New York City. Known in the press as “The Central Park Jogger,” she lay near death as the city let out a wail for justice. Five young men who had been in the park that night were arrested and sent to jail for a crime that they clearly did not commit. So many years later, we’re still left with questions. Why did this happen? Could it happen again? “The Central Park Five,” the second best documentary of 2013, examines the case, placing in perfect context of what was happening in 1989 in NYC and how it led to evil both in Central Park and in the offices of the people trying to keep us safe. The film premieres on PBS tonight in advance of a Blu-ray release next week. Don’t miss it.

HollywoodChicago.com TV rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

There have been numerous documentaries about failures of the justice system, corrupt cops, and framed men (another one, “West of Memphis,” was also one of the best docs of last year). “The Central Park Five” rises above standard true crime stories or “Dateline NBC” specials because of the director’s (Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon) incredible ability to place the events of the film in fascinating context. Crime was a daily fear in New York in 1989. Racial incidents were on the rise. Teens were “wilding” in the park, assaulting people at random and creating a tense atmosphere throughout the city. When the jogger case happened, someone had to pay or the city would have exploded. It is in no way to excuse the obvious evidence tampering and testimony revisions that allowed five innocent people to lose their youth in jail but the brilliance of the film is in how it shows us how and why it happened. And how it could happen again.

The Central Park Five
The Central Park Five
Photo credit: PBS

In 1989, five black and Latino teenagers from Harlem were arrested and later convicted of raping a white woman in New York City’s Central Park. They spent between 6 and 13 years in prison before a serial rapist confessed that he alone had committed the crime, leading to their convictions being overturned. Set against a backdrop of a decaying city beset by violence and racial tension, The Central Park Five tells the story of that horrific crime, the rush to judgment by the police, a media clamoring for sensational stories and an outraged public, and the five lives upended by this miscarriage of justice.

Special Features:
o Interview with the Filmmakers
o After The Central Park Five

“The Central Park Five” premieres on PBS on April 16, 2013 and the Blu-ray and DVD will be released on April 23, 2013.

HollywoodChicago.com content director Brian Tallerico

Content Director

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

Hot stories on the Web

User Login

Free Giveaway Mailing


  • Merry Widow, The

    CHICAGO – Standing up at the Lyric Opera house in Chicago is unusual before a show. But in this case, it was the night after a tragedy, and the operetta “The Merry Widow” – set in Paris, France, in 1905 – was about to unfold. The orchestra struck up La Marseillaise, a reminder that we’ll always have Paris.

  • Black White Love Play

    CHICAGO – The love story of a prominent Chicago celebrity couple becomes the basis for a metaphoric and tuneful celebration about courage and coming together. “The Black White Love Play: The Story of Chaz & Roger Ebert” – written and directed by Black Ensemble Theater’s Jackie Taylor – portrays the film critic and the civil rights lawyer in their time, but also creates an atmosphere of emotion through song, sorrow and jubilation.


HollywoodChicago.com on Twitter


HollywoodChicago.com Top Ten Discussions