Under Review

Someone Knows Something

Podcast Series

CBC; 28/02/2016

Someone Knows Something is CBC’s first attempt at a Canadian version of NPR’s Serial. The first season was released in March of last year, and follows documentarian David Ridgen as he returns to his hometown to research the 40-year-old disappearance of a child, Adrien McNaughten. You may be imagining a case similar to the one featured on Serial, with botched investigations, shoddy police work, and suspects lying through their teeth. Unfortunately, this podcast should be called No-one Knows Anything. For, regardless of how hard Ridgen tries, nothing turns up. Painstakingly, it becomes obvious that the disappearance of Adrien was an accident. As a result, the episodes drag on. Soon, the wide variety of Ontarian accents become more fascinating than the case itself.

Though the first season of Someone Knows Something is monotonous, the second promises drama. Ridgen investigates the 1998 disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard, a woman who went missing just hours after she was proposed to on live television. This story is filled with shady characters and the inherent heartbreak of a “pretty blonde” whose life is cut short.

But along with this second season of SKS, CBC took another stab at recreating Serial, and wound up with something better. Journalist Connie Walker’s podcast Missing and Murdered: Who Killed Alberta Williams has the all the suspense of Serial and enough educational and historical content to make for a fascinating, if not depressing, episode of Stuff You Missed in History Class. Focusing on the disappearance of a young an Indigenous woman (Alberta Williams), Walker explores the horrific trend of missing and murdered indigenous women in Canada. A tragically ignored subject, Connie Walker brings attention to the forgotten.

Next to this significant podcast, Someone Knows Something seems like a white guy holding up an “All Lives Matter” sign. Of course, the story of Adrien McNaughten is tragic and horrible. And, of course, violence against women like Sheryl Sheppard is devastatingly important. But when Ridgen notes that Sheryl Sheppard’s disappearance was met with media frenzy, my mind went to women like Alberta Williams. I couldn’t help but think: they didn’t bring the army to search the woods for Alberta, and they certainly didn’t plaster her face all over national television. Instead of giving a voice to the voiceless, Ridgen concentrates on the already sensational through SKS.

If you are a true crime junkie and need your next fix, then give SKS a listen. Be lulled by David Ridgen’s smooth voice, and appreciate his ability to create the illusion of suspense without any suspenseful material. But CBC has its own version of Serial, and it’s not Someone Knows Something. Not even close.