Fatal Vision Promotional Spot

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This four-hour, two-part miniseries (personally, I would call it a two-part made-for-TV movie) was based on a nonfiction book written by Joe McGinniss, also called Fatal Vision. Both the book and the miniseries were about the true account of Jeffrey R. MacDonald, an Army doctor convicted in 1979 of murdering his wife and daughters nine years earlier. It aired on Sunday, November 18th and Monday, November 19th, 1984, respectively, from 9-11PM ET. This promotional spot is for the first part.

Lawyers for Dr. MacDonald attempted to convince NBC to delay its broadcast of Fatal Vision, arguing that it would hurt any chance he had for a retrial. But they had no legal recourse to force the network not to air the program and NBC went through with its planned showing of the miniseries [1]. However, a judge in an entirely separate case in Illinois did agree to shift court sessions to the evening hours on the nights Fatal Vision was broadcast to ensure jurors not watch it [2].

The first part of Fatal Vision drew a 29.5 Nielsen rating and the second part a 32.7 rating; both ranked first for the weeks they were shown [3]. Fatal Vision‘s 31.1 average made it the top-rated miniseries of the 1984-1985, easily topping the 22.8 average for ABC’s six-hour Hollywood Wives miniseries [4].


1 Kaplan, Peter W. “NBC To Go Ahead With ‘Fatal Vision’ Broadcasts.” New York Times. 14 Nov. 1984: C.34.
2 Springer, Bob. “NBC’s ‘Fatal Vision’ Forces Unusual Night Court Session.” Associated Press. 17 Nov. 1984: AM Cycle.
3 Rothenberg, Fred. “‘Fatal Vision’ and NBC Top-Rated Last Week.” Associated Press. 27 Nov. 1984: AM Cycle.
4 “The Top 10 TV Miniseries of the 1984-1985 Season.” Associated Press. 22 Apr. 1985: PM Cycle.

4 Replies to “Fatal Vision Promotional Spot”

  1. This movie horrified me as a child.
    Not recommended for kids, children or any impressionable mind.
    What a Terrible Tale. NBC should be ashamed for airing this.

  2. Hello. First comment (remembered the site from the pre-comment days but only rediscovered recently).

    It appears judging from this spot during NBC’s coverage of the 1985 season’s AFC Championship game (Jan. 12, 1986); that NBC must have re-aired this mini-series on at least one occasion.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y41yX-dpEvU (1 hr; 34 min, 42 sec. in)

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