Justice For Danny
A Mission From God
Dope Dealers with White Lab Coats
Tunnel of Hope
America has a drug problem. More than half a million Americans died from drug overdoses between 2000 and 2015, and more than half of those involved opioids. It’s a serious issue and one that went unchecked for a long time and saw the rise of what’s now more commonly referred to as Big Pharma. On the back of Hasan Minhaj’s damning investigative piece on Fentanyl, Netflix return for a four-part documentary series that exposes all of this in its rawest form from the most unlikely of sources; a middle-aged pharmacist named Dan Schneider.
After a brief family history through the years, our tale begins in 1999. Dan’s son is shot dead in the heart of 9th Ward in New Orleans; a drug-ravaged no man’s land and the last place you’d want to end up in the middle of the night. With the police uninterested, writing Dan’s son off as “just another junkie murder”, a grief-stricken Father launches a crusade to try and find out who murdered his son. Jumping head-first into the lion’s den, the truth is far more shocking and surprising than you can imagine, as twists and turns lead Dan to expose the truth, with the later episodes turning their focus upwards to Big Pharma and one doctor at the heart of this entire mess – Dr Cleggett.
Much like Dont F**k With Cats last year, The Pharmacist plays out more like a thriller than a straight forward crime documentary. The orchestral score is engrossing and intense, with a couple of surprisingly well implemented twists along the way. The first episode edits its content in such a manner that when the real killer is revealed, there’s a genuine moment of shock. There’s a few more moments like this dotted throughout the series and this makes The Pharmacist one of the best documentaries of the year so far.
Impartiality is one of the most important parts of any documentary and The Pharmacist clearly understands this. Every episode sees multiple people interviewed and whether it be Dan’s son’s killer or Big Pharma bosses, there’s a conscious effort to try and make this as fair and comprehensive a study as possible. The series absolutely shines because of this and juxtaposed against this larger-than-life story is one ordinary guy with a big heart and a drive to expose the truth. It’s an extraordinary tale and one that begins relatively straight forwardly before spiraling into something far more shocking and wide-spread. This is one of those shows where the least you know about this going into the first episode the better.
The Pharmacist will undoubtedly become one of those shows that grows in popularity through word of mouth. The archival shots are well placed, the editing is on- point right the way through and the consistent motif of showing tapes and home footage reinforces the amateur brilliance of Dan Schneider. He managed to do what many officials were seemingly unable or unwilling to do at that time – solve a murder case and in doing so inadvertently expose a corrupt, capitalistic system built on the suffering of others. Part thriller documentary and part social reflection on the damning effect of drugs in America, The Pharmacist may just be one of the best documentary series of the year and one that, dare we say, you’ll find yourself addicted to watch through to the end.
|The Pharmacist is available to watch on Netflix. Feel free to click here and sign up now to check this show out!|