Werner Herzog is unquestionably one of cinema's greatest treasures. His narrative feature film work is the stuff of legend, his instincts as a documentarian are at once singular and addicting. And, as if having films as diverse as Aguirre, The Wrath of God, Rescue Dawn, Grizzly Man and The Grand under his belt isn't impressive enough, he's also about to try and kill Tom Cruise. But his future Hollywood role of Cruise Destroyer isn't what brings us here today (though we can't wait to see him in One Shot), it's his recent fascination with Americans facing the death penalty.
It turns out Into the Abyss wasn't the only documentary about death row Herzog made last year. While culling together material for the film, which takes a bemused (in a patented Herzog way) yet objective look at the kaleidoscopic effect capitol punishment has on people on both sides of the law, the German-born director was also investigating a number of different death row cases. We of course now know that Texas inmate Michael Perry, accused of a triple homicide, was the focus of Into the Abyss, but that doesn't mean Herzog abandoned the other subjects. Deadline is reporting the remaining films will air later this year on the cable network Investigation Discovery under the uniting banner On Death Row.
Who the subjects will be and just how many films/episodes On Death Row will be comprised of are unknown variables right now. Last Fall, Herzog told The Playlist he had made four more films on the topic, though that number may have grown or shrunken on its way to the small screen. Whatever the case may be, this is terrific news for those who cherish Herzog's voice. No, not the literal sound of his vocal chords (though that does always put a smile on our face), but the way he approaches every subject of his like riddles he delights in trying to solve, be they as complex as the web of lies a death row inmate spins or as seemingly simple as paintings on the wall of a cave.
As for what format the series will take, there's no answer there, but Herzog did reveal to the Television Critics Association that, as Deadline puts it, "there is [no] longer much difference in what medium he chooses, and certainly no stigma to operating in TV." There's no shock to that sentiment, either: Herzog's Cave of Forgotten Dreams, one of the surprise box office success of 2011, was co-produced by the film division of the History Channel.
In the meantime, here's a look at the feature film that spawned On Death Row. It's currently without a DVD date, but we highly, highly recommend you keep it on your radar.