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HBO presents
Autopsy: Postmortem with Dr. Michael Baden (2008)

ďDr. Michael Baden has conducted more than 20,000 autopsies. The following are a few of his most high-profile cases.Ē
- Narrator (Marlene Sanders)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: April 15, 2008

Stars: Dr. Michael Baden
Other Stars: Marlene Sanders
Director: Arthur Ginsberg

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (adult situations, disturbing images)
Run Time: 00h:57m:19s
Release Date: March 18, 2008
UPC: 883929010219
Genre: documentary

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer

DVD Review

Itís arguably natural to be at least curious about dead bodies. Sure, that statement might make me sound like a prime candidate for our nationís next homicidal serial killer, but itís human nature to want to know what happens to our bodies after we die. The HBO documentary series Autopsy isnít necessarily obsessed with dead bodies, but rather the mysteries that might be solved in the study of them. Unfortunately, despite a decent number of episodes at their disposal, HBO Home Video has produced only paltry DVD collections so far. The newest release, Autopsy: Postmortem with Dr. Michael Baden is more of the same, this time only touching far too briefly, on five cases, albeit, high-profile cases at that.

Dr. Baden starts by analyzing the mysterious assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and, while this isnít as thought-provoking as Oliver Stoneís JFK, itís still intriguing. The focus of this piece seems to be to put the numerous conspiracy theories to rest. Instead Badenís studies raise more questions than answers and leave us pretty frustrated with what weíve just seen. Still, much of the footage is disturbing and will prove as at least a decent fix for those who have studied this Presidentís death over the years.

Itís then on to the infamous O.J. Simpson case, which will possibly never be forgotten, let alone explained. Baden tries though, taking a look here at the seemingly straight-forward, convincing evidence that was presented by the prosecution against O.J. He concentrates mostly on the evidence gathered at the crime scene and comes to the same conclusion that nearly everyone who knows anything about this case still believes to be true.

From there, we touch on the Romanov Family, in a segment that is truly compelling, yet far too short. The Romanovs (brought to life most recently in the animated film Anastasia) were executed in Russia back in 1918, but the remains of Anastasia and her brother, Alexi werenít found until 2007. While this mystery gets us sucked into this segment, weíre left to only hear Baden explain his findings in studying the remains, and not shown any juicy footage of, well, anything.

Another interesting piece uncovers the deaths of Sex Pistol, Sid Vicious and his devoted girlfriend, Nancy Spungen. Baden uses this as a case for the harmful effects of drug abuse, chronicling this tragic pairís untimely deaths, and going over exactly what such abuse can do to a body. Unfortunately, this is one of the briefest segments, and weíre once again left with too many unanswered questions.

The final segment focuses on the ďFirst RespondersĒ to the terrorist attacks of 9/11, and it contains one of the better forensic studies this disc has to offer. Baden compares a healthy human lung with that of someone who was among the first of the rescuers on that fateful day in New York City. However, this portion seems a bit out of place with the creepier, more mysterious elements of the other cases. It almost feels as if this study was tacked on at the end to lend even the slightest bit of heart to the proceedings, when more darkness is what this disc truly needed.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: The show is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio, and the overall quality mimics that of the television broadcast. The ďcurrentĒ footage featuring Baden looks crisp and finely detailed, while the archival material has greatly varying quality. The same rings true as far as dirt, grain, and other print flaws go.

Image Transfer Grade: C


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0English, Spanishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is also right on par with that of the original TV broadcast. This also varies along with the source material, but it remains clear and distinct throughout, with crisp dialogue as well.

Audio Transfer Grade: C


Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 6 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extras Review: There arenít any extras on this disc.

Extras Grade: F


Final Comments

Even though the series is among HBOís most compelling, the new DVD, Autopsy: Postmortem with Dr. Michael Baden, is a disappointing representation of it. The featured subjects are great attention grabbers, but there isnít enough time to give each one the attention they deserve. The technical aspects of the disc are just fine, but there arenít any extras to speak of.


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