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America Undercover Murder 9 to 5

You know a show's in trouble when it begins with the self-videotaped confession of a psychopath about to commit multiple murders. You know it's in worse trouble when, instead of really examining the guy and what made him snap, the show proceeds to its next maniac.

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Narrator: Marlene Sanders. Blatant and exploitative, "Murder 9 to 5" purports to be a serious examination of violence in the workplace. Instead, it's about as good as an average "Geraldo," with better production values.

You know a show’s in trouble when it begins with the self-videotaped confession of a psychopath about to commit multiple murders. You know it’s in worse trouble when, instead of really examining the guy and what made him snap, the show proceeds to its next maniac.

By offering statistics to back its claim that murder in the workplace is the fastest-growing kind of homicide in the nation, “Murder 9 to 5” cloaks itself in the sophistication of social redemption in say, the same way televising an execution is ostensibly about justice.

This is just another excuse to air gruesome police pictures of dead bodies, news video of tragically bloody aftermaths and some meaningless interviews with a few societal misfits.

The opening sequence of Wisconsin factory worker Dion Terres taping himself is indeed chilling. But that’s all it is. Filled with hate and self-torture, he rambles about plotting to kill former co-workers as he displays his small arsenal of weapons.

That tape never is examined or analyzed; it is there to hook and shock — which it does — and segue into the next subject: Mass murderer Richard Farley, a computer technician from Sunnyvale so obsessed with a co-worker who refused to date him that he killed seven people.

Two other stories are presented before forensic psychiatrist Park Dietz is trotted out to offer some warning signs workers should watch for, including threats, erratic behavior, obsession with weapons and paranoia.

The show says homicide was the second leading cause of job-related death in 1993. It doesn’t tell you that for TV reviewers, the No. 1 killer is watching drivel like this.

America Undercover Murder 9 to 5

(Sun. (11), 10-11 p.m., HBO)

Production: Filmed by Home Box Office. Producer, Gaby Monet. Special location segment producer, Ricki Stern.

Crew: Camera, Bob Elfstrom; editor, Arthur Ginsberg; sound, Ray Day.

Cast: Narrator: Marlene Sanders. Blatant and exploitative, "Murder 9 to 5" purports to be a serious examination of violence in the workplace. Instead, it's about as good as an average "Geraldo," with better production values.

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