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Sometimes the real crime docuseries aren’t so much about the victim as the loved ones trying to uncover the truth, even if they’re blocked by law enforcement, or in the case of Where is Private Dulaney?, none other than the US Marine Corps. In this new ABC News docuseries, we meet Carol Dulaney, the mother of missing Marine Leroy Dulaney and someone we would want in a foxhole with us.

Opening shot: The sun rises over a neighborhood of a small town. We hear Carol Dulaney’s voice as she reads a letter to the President (Carter or Reagan, we’re not sure) about her son Leroy.

The essential: Where is Private Dulaney? is a three-part documentary series about the 1979 disappearance of Marine Private Leroy Dulaney from Camp Lejune, North Carolina, and his mother Carol’s determination to uncover the truth. Through interviews with Carol Dulaney, her brothers Greg and Michael, her widow Brenda, and others, we get a picture of life in Weirton, WV, where Dulaney grew up, her path to the Marines, and how Carol got on. blocked by them after his disappearance. .

The first episode introduces us to Carol, who married young to essentially stay in the same place and no longer move in with her parents; she had her three boys because her doctor advised her to have a hysterotomy. She divorced their father and worked many jobs to support her children. In other words, she’s a badass. Leroy is his eldest son; he met and fell in love with Brenda when they were both in high school. He joined the Marines because the factories in town no longer had the opportunities they once had.

We also hear from Marines from the time Leroy was there, 1977-79. Recruitment had declined after the Vietnam War, and the Marines added more marginal recruits to their ranks. After completing basic training and marrying Brenda while on leave, he was assigned to Camp Lejune. He disappeared on May 23, 1979; the more Carol and Michael insisted on knowing what happened, the more they were told that Leroy was missing. Even when they tracked down the last person he was with, and the man more or less admitted he had killed Leroy, the base commanders wouldn’t listen.

What shows will this remind you of? Where is Private Dulaney? is a fairly straightforward ABC News docuseries, along the lines of The murders before the marathon.

Our opinion : Where is Private Dulaney? starts slow, giving us lots of biographical information about Carol Dulaney, then some information about her son Leroy. Yes, it paints a picture of Carol’s toughness and love for her boys, as well as the lack of options available to someone graduating from high school in a Rust Belt town in the late 70s. But when your docuseries only has three parts, having so much biographical information just tells us that there isn’t enough information to fill the time.

Another thing we noticed was the filmmakers’ overreliance on archival footage from the very early ’70s of the Navy recruiting and basic training scenes. There’s a segment where the whole idea of ​​basic Marine training, where the individual is broken down to the point where they can be rebuilt to be a proud Marine, that made it look like they didn’t have need to be there either, given that most people who watch the docuseries have probably gotten a taste of what it’s like via movies like Full Metal Jacket.

Yet the story of Leroy Dulaney’s disappearance is more about his mother Carol’s strength and her determination to uncover the truth. It will also be interesting to see some of the criminal activity, including cult activity, at Camp Lejune and Jacksonville, NC, the city where the camp is located. It would have made a great 90 minute documentary. As a 3-hour docuseries, however, it’s a bit mushy and sloppy.

Sex and skin: None.

Farewell shot: Carol: “I called the TV station and the newspaper, and I said, ‘Do you want a story? Meet me at the base, because I have one for you.

Sleeping Star: Michael and Greg Dulaney have had their troubles in life, but their memories of Leroy and the affection they have for their mother are heartwarming.

The most pilot line: There’s been some sloppy use of clips, like the one where Carol mentions the State Police, and there’s a close-up of a State Police license plate from the early ’70s. The only problem is that the plate is from New Jersey, not North Carolina. It may be a small thing, but it speaks to filmmakers who don’t pay attention to detail.

Our call: STREAM IT, but only to see the force of nature that is Carol Dulaney. Where is Private Dulaney? didn’t need to be a three-part docuseries, but we did need to be introduced to Carol Dulaney, which makes the docuseries worth watching.

Joel Keller (@joelkeller) writes about food, entertainment, parenting and technology, but he’s not fooling himself: he’s a TV junkie. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Slate, Salon, RollingStone.com, VanityFair.comFast Company and elsewhere.


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