‘How did Rodney Alcala’s appearance on The Dating Game ultimately lead to his downfall?’
It’s been a while since I delved into the murky world of true crime podcasts. This is primarily because the genre itself has become awfully stale. I’ve had a couple of false starts. Teacher’s Pet started off promisingly, but as the episodes inexplicably rumbled on, I quickly lost interest. Similarly, Monster – The Zodiac Killer was exciting in its early episodes, but succumbed to nonsense sensationalism pretty quickly, so all in all, I’ve grown a little disillusioned with the world of true crime. The Dating Game Killer isn’t the podcast to bring the genre roaring back to life, but it is a solid six parter that held my interest all the way through.
Rodney Alcala was a handsome and charismatic photographer who used his persuasive charms to assault, rape and murder a string of girls and women across various locations in the United States. His easy way with women and the fact that he represented himself in court has drawn comparisons with that other golden boy of true crime – Ted Bundy. What sets Alcala apart is that he appeared on national television as suitor number one on the hugely popular game show The Dating Game. Audio footage from that incident is interspersed with grim and desperate narration as Alcala’s story is allowed to unfold.
Perhaps the most pertinent criticism over the recent slurry of true crime podcasts is that they are far too lengthy, desperate to draw the story out over numerous episodes to maximise that sweet advertising dollar. Another issue has been the temptation to turn every true crime podcast into a mystery, giving airtime to various conspiracy nuts and cranks of ill repute to spread their harmful misinformation to keep the endless feedback loop of secrets and riddles in business. The Dating Game resists both of these temptations, firstly by telling the whole story in six episodes and, secondly, by deciding not to talk to anybody related to the case, instead relying on allowing the story itself to provide the entertainment. This gives The Dating Game the feel of an audiobook, a format that lends itself well to murder and mayhem.
As previously stated, The Dating Game Killer isn’t a return to the glory days of Dr Death or Dirty John, but it is a solid and well made insight into one of America’s less well known serial killers. Worth a listen.