True crime podcast The Dating Game Killer tells the disturbing tale of serial killer John Alcala.
The Dating Game Killer is a true crime Wondery podcast – that’s the station behind Dirty John and Joe Exotic (i.e., Tiger King).
The killer in question is Rodney Alcala, a serial rapist and murderer at large in 70s America. Many of his crimes involved young girls, though not exclusively. Whatever their age, however, all of his victims were female.
Over six episodes, The Dating Game Killer recounts some of Alcala’s crimes and eventual trial. A seventh episode comprises conversations with former detectives and a historian, but goes beyond the Alcala case.
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- How to catch a killer without leaving the house
- Visions of beastliness in movie ‘Split’
What does the title mean?
Alcala’s nickname, ‘The Dating Game Killer’, came about from his appearance on the TV show of the same name. He went on the show in the midst of his murder spree, but before it was known he was a serial killer.
Is it like other podcasts I’ve heard?
It depends what you’ve been listening to. TDGK is a true crime podcast, so expect descriptions of crimes, timelines and police or courtroom procedure.
Unlike Dirty John or Joe Exotic, TDGK is almost entirely narrated by host Tracey Pattin, with Steven Lang taking over for some ‘present tense’ scenes. Apart from episode 7, you won’t hear any other voices or interviews – and that makes it feel almost like a work of fiction at times.
Is it scary?
Each episode begins with a disclaimer that content “contains depictions of violence, and is not suitable for everyone”, so you may want to take a cue from that.
The series is reasonably careful with sensitive details, and doesn’t linger unnecessarily on the gruesome or grotesque. That said, there’s still something quite sad about murder and exploitation, especially involving children.
As a true crime series, there are disturbing elements here, but the format – narration rather than interviews – takes the edge off a little.
Where can I listen to The Dating Game Killer?
You should be able to catch this show for free wherever you usually get your podcasts, or directly from wondery.com.