On a Saturday night one year ago, Lifetime drew an astounding 5.8 million viewers for “Drew Peterson: Untouchable.” The fact-based film starred Rob Lowe as the notorious Illinois black widower who is currently awaiting sentencing for the murder of his third wife.
Now, Lifetime repeats the formula, hoping to make ratings lightning strike twice.
“Prosecuting Casey Anthony” (8 p.m. Saturday, Lifetime) is a re-creation of the 2011 tabloid trial of the young Florida single mother accused of killing her 2-year-old daughter.
This time, Lowe is on the right side of the law, portraying Jeff Ashton, the assistant state attorney who conducted the case against Anthony. (The film is based on Ashton’s book, “Imperfect Justice,” written with Lisa Pulitzer.)
But in the end, the film is stolen by “The Office’s” Oscar Nuñez as Anthony’s relatively inexperienced but cagey attorney, Jose Baez.
There isn’t much suspense in the script, nor are there surprising revelations. The cause of the child’s death is never dramatized or even fully established.
From the time Anthony’s daughter, Caylee, was reported missing in 2008, the case sparked rabid national attention. In the court of public opinion, the young mother became a deeply reviled figure, perceived as a party girl who seemed utterly disinterested in her daughter’s welfare and who lied repeatedly to the police.
That’s why the verdict came as such a profound shock. After less than 11 hours of deliberation, the jury acquitted her of all the serious charges and found her guilty of only four misdemeanors. Facing the death penalty, Anthony was set free days after the trial.