Long before Netflix got into the true-crime game and chilling podcasts gripped the country’s collective consciousness, there was HBO’s seminal series “The Staircase.” Directed by Academy Award-winning documentary filmmaker, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade, the original series followed accused killer Michael Peterson and his 16-year judicial battle to clear his name in the killing of wife Kathleen, found dead at the bottom of family home’s staircase. The 2001 crime was already a weird one — Peterson was a crime novelist, the cops instantly sniffed at his story that Kathleen’s fall was an accident — and it got still stranger when it was revealed that Peterson was associated with yet another woman who died…at the bottom of a staircase.
De Lestrade was granted intimate access to the trial that ensued, plus Peterson’s near-decade-long stint behind bars, which formed the gripping original series. In 2013, “The Staircase II: The Last Chance” arrived, detailing still more twists and revelations, enough to grant Peterson a brand-new trial, which is where the newest chapter in the series — including three brand-new episodes — kicks off. Billed as a “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,” the shock and awe of “The Staircase” is not over just yet.
Later this year, Netflix will unveil three new episodes of the series, rolling out the full series in a massive 13-episode package.
At the Tribeca Film Festival back in April, IndieWire’s Jamie Righetti wrote of the series’ new episodes, “As Peterson and his family grapple with this decision, the new episodes also explore the idea of tainted justice. There is Peterson, who struggles to reconcile his belief in his own innocence with the need to plead guilty. But there is also Kathleen’s family, her grieving sister and only daughter, who believe Peterson is responsible for Kathleen’s death and must reconcile with watching him walk free, even if he legally admits to the crime.”
She added, “At the center of ‘The Staircase’ is Peterson’s belief that he was never given a fair trial, that the system is one that cannot be trusted. And as the documentary shows, he’s not wrong in this belief, especially as many of the testimonies that helped convict him at the end of the earlier episodes are eventually proven to be fabricated or false.”
Check out the first trailer for the full 13-part documentary series “The Staircase” below, including three new episodes.
“The Staircase” will launch on Netflix on June 8.