Review: Cutting Edge – Jaycee: My 18 Years In Captivity (2010/11, UK)

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During our previous review of the 2009 documentary “Captive For 18 Years: The Jaycee Lee Story,” we remarked on how unusual it was that there was no title-card update regarding the sentencing of the kidnappers of Jaycee Dugard when the show was re-run in 2010 at the end of the trial.

Following the release of Jaycee’s book about her kidnap and survival last month, that update to the original documentary has now arrived on British television. It’s sadly uneven and not as good as we’d previously hoped.

Aside from having many repeated comments due to one family member still perceived as being “on the outside”, this Cutting Edge documentary suffers from the problems of all the others reviewed in the modern run. It descends into tabloid titillation by showing repeated clips of stalking video taken by Philip Garrido’s wife under the pretense of making a pop video with her husband playing guitar. Her comments are left on the sound track although the TV company blurred out the kids the Garridos were spying on. Even with the picture blurs, we only needed the one example of this, instead of repeating them as filler. It’s much more useful to the viewer to show how she documented one of the 70 visits to the home by parole officers or other law enforcement which failed to lead to Jaycee’s discovery and rescue.

The contributions from the lawyers for the kidnappers were even more irritating, where only one of their comments for Nancy Garrido’s lawyer actually provides any new background we didn’t know from the public record. The rest is a repetition of her “The Man Made Me Do It” defence that kept her sentence down to double figures, which is shown as cutting no ice whatsoever with Jaycee.

The programme makers took the decision to license clips of Jaycee’s American TV interview. Unfortunately, these were not the focus of the repeat as implied by the updated title. Instead, one is used as a bookend to finish the programme and the others to fill in gaps in time which were part of the court case or the occasional comment on Jaycee’s emotions. Clearly, since UK viewers aren’t seeing the whole interview it’s not as useful as buying her book. On a more positive note, the extra contributions from law enforcement were both extended from the first edition and another one was new, following the conviction and sentencing.

This updated documentary isn’t available at the UK Youtube site or Channel 4’s own 4oD portal, whether this is due to licensing issues with the American footage or a standard time delay, just buy the book if you want detailed insight into this case. Reading it will be a major improvement on this patchy clip-show of a documentary. ABC’s own interview with Jaycee Dugard is here.

– CBG

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