McMillions – Episode 1 Recap & Review

The Hamburglar

Florida 2001. Someone is rigging the monopoly game at McDonalds and at the centre of this elaborate scheme is a shady individual by the name of Uncle Jerry. What followed was an intricate, incredulous investigation that saw the FBI tumbling head-first down the rabbit-hole to get to the bottom of a conspiracy that seemingly had connections all over the place. If you know next to nothing about this case, buckle up because McMillions is an absolute rollercoaster ride. It’s the perfect companion piece to the case, breaking things down in laymen terms but with a unique wit and humour that keeps things engaging right the way through Operation “Final Answer”.

The first episode introduces the case itself and the main players in the investigation. Among those involved is the enigmatic, hilarious FBI Agent Doug Mathews who uncovers the case with an infamous post-it note and a defiant “no” from his fellow FBI colleague who refused to appear in this documentary. From here, an undercover operation begins, aiming to piece together what’s happening by running a controlled monopoly game alongside McDonalds and tracing the winners, who all mysteriously appear to be from the same area.

Michael Hoover is the winner this time and the episode itself concludes with him admitting to being part of the scam, laughing on the phone to his friend after fooling who he thought were Mcdonalds’ employees at his door. With his phone tapped and damning evidence against him, it proves he’s in on the operation and worse, Simon Marketing were involved in the scam too. Down the rabbit hole we go!

Throughout the episode, McMillions injects a good tone and humour into proceedings, with the usual slick HBO-style cinematography to accompany the material. From split screen shots to dreamy, slow-mo re-enactments over narration, McMillions has a way of engaging you immediately into the action and refuses to let you go. The multiple perspectives and face to face interviews help paint an impartial picture too, with employees from both the FBI and McDonalds interviewed.

The less you know about the McMillions scam, the more entertaining HBO’s latest documentary series is likely to be. There’s a really sinister edge to the light-hearted elements and this juxtaposition of tone makes for a really unusual and surprisingly gripping watch. Whether McMillions changes that and becomes darker and more serious as the episodes tick by remains to be seen but right now this show has all the ingredients to be a deliciously dark and mouth-watering documentary series. For now, we’re certainly lovin’ it!

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