The First 48
|The First 48|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||13|
|No. of episodes||249 (List of episodes)|
|Running time||45 minutes|
|Production company(s)||ITV Studios America|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV)
|Original run||June 3, 2004– present|
The First 48 is an American documentary television series on A&E. Filmed in various cities in the United States, the series offers an insider's look at the real-life world of homicide investigators. While the series often follows the investigations to their end, it usually focuses on their first 48 hours, hence the title. Each episode picks one or more homicides in different cities, covering each alternately, showing how detectives use forensic evidence, witness interviews and other advanced detective skills to identify suspects. While most cases are solved within the first 48 hours, some go on days, weeks, months, or even years after the first 48. The shortest investigation was led by Det. Brenda Wescott, who arrested a suspect, just 6 hours into the investigation. Dion Graham is featured as the narrator, and is the only member of the cast to be in every one of the episodes.
The series was nominated for a Distinguished Documentary Achievement Award in the Continuing Series category by the International Documentary Association, eventually losing out to American Experience. By season 6, The First 48 had become the highest rated non-fiction justice series on American television, and had gained considerable critical acclaim along with controversy. The season 8 premiere, "Gone", which aired on January 1, 2009, garnered a domestic audience of 2.3 million viewers making it the series' most watched episode, at the time.
Until the 12th season, The First 48's opening title sequence featured the conceptual statement: "For homicide detectives, the clock starts ticking the moment they are called. Their chance of solving a murder is cut in half if they don't get a lead within the first 48 hours." The original soundtrack, composed by both Chuck Hammer (2004–2005) and Brian and Justin Deming (2006–2008), is a combination of dark ambient music integrated with sound design.
|Season||Episodes||Season Premiere||Season Finale|
|1||13||June 3, 2004||November 18, 2004|
|2||13||January 6, 2005||August 11, 2005|
|3||12||October 6, 2005||March 2, 2006|
|4||20||June 15, 2006||January 11, 2007|
|5||12||January 18, 2007||May 31, 2007|
|6||18||June 21, 2007||December 6, 2007|
|7||29||January 10, 2008||December 9, 2008|
|8||13||January 1, 2009||April 23, 2009|
|9||11||June 16, 2009||September 15, 2009|
|10||19||March 4, 2010||August 19, 2010|
|11||24||September 30, 2010||May 12, 2011|
|12||47||January 5, 2012||December 20, 2012|
|13||TBA||March 7, 2013||TBA|
The series has aired several follow-up episodes entitled After the First 48, which detail the trials of those accused in previous episodes, and the aftermath of victims' survivors. There is also another spin-off, The First 48: Missing Persons, which follows the same story format as the original series. The newest spin-off of the series is, The Killer Speaks, which depicts convicted felons as they describe their crimes through their first-hand accounts.
On May 16, 2010, a 7-year-old Detroit girl named Aiyana Jones was shot and killed during a SWAT raid that was filmed by The First 48 cameras. Detroit SWAT unit raided the duplex while searching for a homicide suspect. On October 5, 2011, prosecutors charged the Detroit police officer with the involuntary manslaughter of Jones. Allison Howard, an A&E Television Network camera operator who was filming that night, was charged with perjury and obstruction of justice after lying under oath. She pleaded no contest to obstruction of justice and was sentenced to 2 years' probation.
The show's unprecedented access to police departments has generated some controversy because such access is not typically given to traditional local news media. Moreover, the show has been criticized for putting witnesses in danger by revealing their faces and their voices on a nationally televised program and for not being sensitive to what might happen to them in the form of retaliation. As a result, the witnesses faces are censored and their voices are altered.
The First 48 has featured or plans to feature detective units in the following North American cities:
- "Breaking News - A&E Real Life Series - the First 48 & Swat Return for Sixth and Third Seasons Respectively". TheFutonCritic.com. 2007-06-27. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Breaking News - A&E Kicked Off the New Year with the Record Breaking Season Premiere of 'The First 48'". TheFutonCritic.com. 2009-01-05. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Lawyer questions police version of raid that killed girl". CNN. May 17, 2010.
- "Nightcap - A Different Kind of News". The33tv.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Allison Howard, 'The First 48' Videographer, Pleads In Fatal Detroit Raid That Killed Aiyana-Stanley Jones". Huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
- "Problem with 'The First 48' wasn't content". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2013-11-06.