HBO’s four-part Original docuseries review: ‘Murder on Middle Beach’ episode one airs tonight.

HBO Documentary Films’ MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH, a four-part documentary series directed by first-time filmmaker Madison Hamburg, presents Hamburg’s complicated journey as a young man determined to solve an unspeakable crime and absolve the people he loves, while looking for answers within his fractured family and community.


On March 3, 2010, single mother Barbara Hamburg was found violently murdered near her home in the upper-middle-class enclave of Madison, Connecticut. Investigators speculated her murder appeared to be a crime of passion, but without enough evidence, the case grew cold.

Over the course of 8 years, Barbara’s son, Madison Hamburg, interviewed his family members and many others, longing to learn more about his mother and gathering evidence in hopes of solving her murder, sending him into a deep web of buried familial secrets, connections to shadowy criminal figures, and the uncovering of years-old resentments in his deceptively serene hometown. While Madison wrestles with troubling revelations about his mother, the most unsettling conflict comes from Madison’s obligation to bring into question those inside his community and members of his own family.

Madison Hamburg wants to know what happened to his mother in 2010. Growing up in an affluent Connecticut town myself, I found it shocking that I had not heard about this case. Who would want to kill a stay at home mother? What are the motives for such a brutal act? The theories seem straight forward until you’re steered down another road due to lack of evidence. The things that went wrong in this initial investigation will frustrate you to no end. You have to give Madison credit for having the courage and, for lack of a more eloquent way of putting it, balls for putting his entire childhood and now adulthood on the line to solve this mystery and deal with his trauma.

Creative editing places you inside the family dynamic of the Hamburgs. Not just Madison’s odd relationship with his estranged father, but his aunt’s and uncles, grandparents, and his sister Barbara, the 4th of that namesake on his mother’s side. Madison uses home videos and still photography to invite you into the years he had with his Mom. Some of the most unique moments come in the form of vintage voiceovers from what seems like those creepy 1950s classroom movies. It is eerily effective. Intimate sit-down interviews play the largest part as the mystery grows. There are constant hints of family secrets but we only get a tease in the final moments of episode one. You’re so invested in this story, it’s frightening. There is no doubt Madison Hamburg wants the truth. I know I’ll be watching the final 3 episodes on HBO to find out if he gets it. Murder on Middle Beach will air episode 1 tonight at 10:00-11:00pm ET/PT.

Stream on HBO Max:

MURDER ON MIDDLE BEACH debuts on November 15 on HBO and will be available to stream on HBO Max.

HBODocs Monday Movie: ‘Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson’

HBO_logoPacked in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson uncovers the story of artist Edith Lake Wilkinson, committed to an asylum in 1924 and never heard from again.  We follow the journey of Edith’s great-niece as she pieces together the mystery of Edith’s life and returns her work to Provincetown.

Jane Anderson, a subject of the doc who also serves as executive producer and co-writer,  is an award-winning writer and director for film, theater, and television.  Most recently, she wrote the critically acclaimed HBO mini-series adaptation of the novel “Olive Kitteridge,” starring Frances McDormand. Other work includes: HBO’s “The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom,” for which she received an Emmy, a Penn Award and Writers Guild Award for best teleplay. She wrote and directed “The Baby Dance,” (adapted from her play) which received a Peabody Award, and Golden Globe and Emmy nominations for best writing and made-for-TV film.  She wrote and directed “Normal” for HBO (adapted from her play) which garnered Emmy nominations, Golden Globe nominations and Directors’ Guild and Writers’ Guild nominations for best writing and directing. Her other television films include, “When Billie Beat Bobby” and the first segment of “If These Walls Could Talk II,” which starred Vanessa Redgrave and earned Ms. Anderson an Emmy nomination for best writing.   Screenwriting credits include:  HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT, IT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU AND THE PRIZEWINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO, which she also directed.

HBODocs Monday Movie: ‘My Depression (The Up and Down and Up of It)’

my depressionFamed Broadway writer, director and composer Elizabeth Swados has struggled with depression her whole life. In My Depression (The Up and Down and Up of It), she shares her experiences with this often-misunderstood condition to make a difficult and sometimes taboo topic more accessible and understandable. Based on Swados’ graphic memoir “My Depression: A Picture Book,” and featuring the voices of Sigourney Weaver (as Swados), Steve Buscemi, Fred Armisen and Dan Fogler, this animated musical documentary debuts MONDAY, JULY 13 (9:00-9:30 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on HBO.

Other HBO playdates: July 13 (4:45 a.m.), 15 (12:05 a.m.), 16 (5:15 p.m.), 17 (9:45 a.m.), 18 (4:00 p.m.), 26 (12:45 p.m.) and 29 (2:15 p.m.)

HBO2 playdates: July 15 (8:00 p.m.), 23 (12:30 a.m.) and 31 (1:45 p.m.), and Aug. 1 (10:15 a.m.)