Lifetime looks at Casey Anthony

By David Hiltbrand

Philadelphia Inquirer

On a Saturday night one year ago, Lifetime drew an astounding 5.8 million viewers for “Drew Peterson: Untouchable.” The fact-based film starred Rob Lowe as the notorious Illinois black widower who awaits sentencing for the murder of his third wife.

Now Lifetime repeats the formula, hoping to make ratings lightning strike twice.

“Prosecuting Casey Anthony” (8 tonight) is a re-creation of the 2011 tabloid trial of the young Florida single mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.

This time, Lowe is on the right side of the law, portraying Jeff Ashton, the assistant state attorney who conducted the case against Anthony. (The film is based on Ashton’s book, “Imperfect Justice,” written with Lisa Pulitzer.)

The bland role of the veteran prosecutor doesn’t give Lowe much to work with. In the end, the film is stolen by “The Office’s” Oscar Nunez as Anthony’s relatively inexperienced but cagey attorney, Jose Baez. (During the trial, Geraldo Rivera dubbed Baez “Juanie Cochran.”)

There isn’t much suspense in the script, nor are there surprising revelations about what happened. The cause of the child’s death isn’t dramatized or even fully established.

The true appeal of “Prosecuting Casey Anthony” lies in our strong residual interest in finding out just how our criminal system could manage to be blinder than Mr. Magoo.

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