Launched in September 2005, Booked.tv is an interactive online companion to the Canadian broadcast television series Booked, which asks real crime professionals just how realistic crime novels are. Similar to its television counterpart, Booked.tv offers a series of webisodes that interview these professionals not only on the authenticity of crime fiction, but also on the intricacies of varying aspects of criminal activity (whether it be bomb-threats or blood stains). The creator, Canadian writer and director Ava Karvonen, wanted to take her love of reading to television, so she and her own television production company, Reel Girls Media, decided to address a rising trend in crime novels and create a kind of televised book club in which crime fiction could be discussed by fans and experts alike.
Booked.tv emulates the format of a book club, but it’s better. Instead of hearing interpretations only from your friends, you have access to the valuable insight of specialists. The site is not just another form of crime entertainment, like CSI, Law and Order, or the best-selling John Grisham novels. It is more of a research tool, providing valid information as a challenge to our sometimes incorrect assumptions about criminals and the nature of crime, which are often perpetuated by the entertainment industry. Each two to three-minute professionally-produced episode features a different forensic specialist who addresses a single question. For instance, criminal intelligence analyst Jonathan Alston speaks on the question of why women commit fewer crimes than men, and psychiatrist Dr. Judy Ustina judges the accuracy of the portrayal of the psychopath in Jeff Lindsey’s book, Darkley Dreaming Dexter. The interviews are tremendously informative and fascinating, and when paired with the “casebooks,” – written statements from specialists on issues like kids with psychiatric disorders or protecting women on the street – you can learn a huge amount about crime. In fact, the whole site is geared toward learning, with resources about forensic education, tips on starting a book club, reading lists with discussion questions, and book reviews.
The episode with homicide detective Cathy Oakden is a good example of an honest description of detective work that is worth watching. She emphasizes the uncomfortable and difficult aspects of her line of work, like informing families of a deceased or missing relative, that comprise a huge part of her job, not just the exciting and dramatic activities that stereotype detectives.