Saint John — The trial may be over, but the entertainment is just beginning for Canadians who love true crime. The Oland Murder, airing on CBC Gem Wednesday at 9 p.m., is of special interest to Saint Johners, where the whole grisly affair played out.
“I went down to Giant Tiger for the pop and chips, got a case of Moose Red of course — it’s half off today only for the debut! — and I’m gonna make popcorn and have everyone over for this,” said Pam Bonnell, Port City mother of three residing on Princess Street uptown. “Not just the kids and my husband, but also some neighbours, a couple cousins, uncles, aunts — even the postman if he wants. This thing is bigger than the playoffs and the Friends finale combined.”
Bonnell’s husband Jeff shares in the joy of watching a family’s lives fall apart in four digestible weekly installments.
“I’m a big true-crime documentary lover — I binged The Ted Bundy Tapes, The Confession Killer, The Devil Next Door, Making a Murderer, The Staircase — there are so many, and for whatever reason they’re all juicy, even if nothing really happens in them. Must be the narration, or the black-and-white photos, or the suspenseful music…I don’t know, but this one taking place right here in Saint John just makes it even more of a ‘can’t miss’!” he said, walking over to his laptop to find the CBC site.
“Those were all on Netflix, though…I know that damn ‘Gem’ player is laggy and slow by comparison, so I’ll preload the first ep as soon as it starts, and hit play about half an hour in. Not even CBC’s shit technology can ruin this for us.”
Saint Johners were obsessed with the lengthy trial and retrial of Dennis Oland for the murder of his father, Richard Oland. The investigation was utterly botched by police and made a mockery of the local justice system.
“It all makes me a little less embarrassed to live here,” said 15-year-old Aiden Bonnell. “There’s the blood-spattered coat, his dad’s affair…where’s the murder weapon? None of it adds up, but to me Dennis Oland is the coolest guy to ever come out of Saint John and the fact that they can’t pin anything on him in the end just makes him totally epic.”
Saint Johners are notoriously defensive about their city, so they will all be closely watching to make sure the national broadcaster gets every detail right and no ill words are spoken of “beautiful” Saint John.
“When 9 p.m. hits, I’ll be watching the show, but also personally keeping a close eye on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit, prepared to deny any negative comments about our city that may result from the series,” said Mayor Don Darling. “We can say whatever we want — as long as it’s positive, of course — but we can’t have outsiders peering into our issues and exposing perceived flaws. We don’t want a repeat of that horrible Maclean’s article from a few years back.”
The Oland Murder, directed by Deborah Wainwright, debuts March 4. Watch the trailer here.