Dr. Death: Where the True Crime Series Actually Started

Dr. Death: Where the True Crime Series Actually Started
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On July 16, Stan dropped a new series that has taken hold of true-crime obsessives all over Australia. Dr. Death – a series that has been adapted from a podcast of the same title by Wondery – follows the ​​true story of Dr. Christopher Duntsch; “a neurosurgeon who was sentenced to life imprisonment after maiming, harming, or killing 33 patients,” Stan shares. 

If you’re curious about the series, and the story that informed it, here’s your explainer. 

Tell me more about Dr. Death, the series

Now streaming on Stan, Dr. Death’s first season is eight episodes long and stars Joshua Jackson (Dawson’s Creek) as Christopher Duntsch, Grace Gummer (Mr Robot) as Kim Morgan and AnnaSophia Robb (The Carrie Diaries) as Dallas prosecutor Michelle Shughart, along with Christian Slater (Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story) as Randall Kirby and Alec Baldwin (30 Rock) as Robert Henderson. 

The series takes a look at Dr. Duntsch’s career as a surgeon in Dallas, Texas; the story behind the surgeries that left so many victims severely wounded or dead, and the realities of the healthcare system that allowed these horrors to play out. 

Dr. Death was brought to life by executive producers Patrick Macmanus (The Girl from Plainville), Todd Black, Jason Blumenthal, Steve Tisch and Taylor Latham, along with Hernan Lopez and Marshall Lewy of Wondery. 

Directors include Maggie Kiley (Dirty John: The Betty Broderick Story, Riverdale), Jennifer Morrison (One of Us is Lying, Euphoria) and So Yong Kim (Lovesong, Grand Army).

How about the podcast?

As is the trend with loads of true-crime series of late, the Dr Death story was first told through a podcast. Over the course of 20 episodes, season one of Wondery’s Dr. Death podcast covers the case of Dr. Christopher Duntsch and his 33 patients. 

The podcast, which went live in 2018 and is hosted by Laura Beil, describes the story in the below:

“Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away.

“But soon his patients started to experience complications, and the system failed to protect them. Which begs the question: who – or what – is that system meant to protect?”

As The New Yorker reports, the podcast series topped the iTunes podcast charts in 2018, and the storytelling and reporting of Beil – an award-winning medical journalist – has been widely applauded. 

Wondery is the same network that brought us the equally gut-wrenching Dirty John series. It has since launched podcasts Bad Batch and The Vaping Fix with Beil as host, investigating “miracle cures” and “the rise of Juul”. 

Where can I learn more about the true story behind Dr. Death?

In addition to the podcast and the series, you can find more insight into this case with the upcoming four-part docuseries, Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story

The docuseries will also find a home in Stan when it drops on July 30, 2021. In a statement on the new production, Stan shared that “Dr. Death: The Undoctored Story is the first docuseries about Dr. Christopher Duntsch – nicknamed ‘Dr. Death…’”

“The four part docuseries will offer audiences the chance to hear and see the whole story, told by the real people who survived it. In addition to interviews with the real-life Dr. Robert Henderson, Dr. Randall Kirby and Michelle Shughart (played by Alec Baldwin, Christian Slater and AnnaSophia Robb, respectively, in the scripted series), the docuseries will feature new conversations with others closest to Duntsch and his criminal case…”

Take a peek at the trailer for that here:

There have also, naturally, been a whole heap of different articles exploring the story and the people behind it. The New Yorker wrote a piece on the original podcast back in 2018 and Bustle dove into the events after the closure of the series here

Get started on the Dr. Death series on Stan here. And if you’re after more grisly true crime content, take a peek at our list of favourites as well.

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