Playing that kind of monster presents a big challenge for Lacy, and he rises to it. This is a very difficult role in that we will see Bob through modern eyes in a way the Brobergs couldn’t. So he can’t go too far in his malevolence or risk devolving into camp. It has to be a captivating performance so it’s believable that the Brobergs were captivated by him but also can’t be too likable either. Lacy nails it. Even the really tough-to-swallow material in episodes three and four that reveal just how much he got his hooks into Mary Ann and Bob comes off as more understandable than it could have with lesser actors or writers. Just think about how easily a story involving infidelity, aliens, and multiple kidnappings could have become lurid, campy, and exploitative. Antosca, his directors, and the cast walk a very fine tonal line, never turning their show into a depressing dirge but also not giving in to the potential to “Ryan Murphy” this thing up.
With so much focus on Bob, ‘B’, and Mary Ann—and Gail Berchtold (Lio Tipton) at times—Jan herself can get a little lost in the telling of this story. I’m also not sure I love the recasting to age up Jan given the story doesn’t take place over that long a period of time—the kidnappings were only two years apart. While I’ve seen less of her in what’s been sent for review, I would have preferred the talented Grace play it throughout, which is no criticism of the solid Yancey but just a belief that one actress would have given Jan a stronger throughline.
Despite the success of “Abducted in Plain Sight,” Jan Broberg’s story is one that’s still not widely known among the general public, and it’s a story worth telling again, a reminder that trust has to be earned and friends can have ulterior motives. Antosca and his team approached this cautionary tale with the utmost respect for the people caught up in this absolute nightmare, and that approach has paid off with one of the best true crime dramas of the year.
Premieres on Peacock on October 6th. Five episodes screened for review.