True-Crime Story ‘The Widower’ Gets Three-Night Run on NBC

Thomas Randolph of NBC's 'The Widower'
Thomas Randolph, accused of murdering his sixth wife, is the subject of the ‘Dateline NBC’-produced ‘The Widower.’ (Image credit: NBC News)

The Widower, a three-part true-crime miniseries from the producers of Dateline NBC, starts on NBC Thursday, Feb. 18. The twisting and turning series, about a man who has had four wives die under mysterious circumstances, represents the first time the network is airing a multi-night, true-crime series from Dateline

“It just seemed like an unusual show that probably deserved a different kind of treatment,” said Paul Ryan, co-executive producer. “It deserved multiple nights.”

Thomas Randolph, who is 66, is accused of murdering his sixth wife. Ryan called him “a strange and outrageous and unusual character.” 

The producers had extraordinary access to Randolph. The perp loved the attention, Ryan said, and was convinced he could persuade viewers of his innocence. “He has supreme confidence in his ability to evade the system, and to charm people — lawyers, judges, producers,” Ryan said. 

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The producers also got ample access to the law enforcement people chasing down the bad guy. 

“You’re literally there with the cops when they’re interviewing witnesses,” said Ryan. “You’re really putting the puzzle together with them.”

Dateline investigative producer Dan Slepian began documenting the murder investigation in 2008 while embedded with the Las Vegas Police Department. Ryan noted the work of Det. Dean O’Kelley, who appears in the miniseries. “He’s the most amazing, dogged, dedicated public servant you’d ever want to see,” said Ryan. “I was blown away by how much this guy cared and how far he was willing to go.”

Episode one on Feb. 18 is one hour. Episode two a day later is two hours, and the conclusion, on Sunday, Feb. 21, is two hours. It will also stream on Peacock, which has a dedicated Dateline 24/7 channel. 

Dateline NBC airs Fridays at 9 p.m. (ET). It at times goes to two hours, but a multi-night series from Dateline is uncharted territory. “Stories like this don’t come down the pike all that often,” said Ryan. 

If The Widower finds a large audience, he added, the producers are up for going multi-night on future stories that merit it. 

Thomas Randolph will draw a few viewers. “He’s such an intriguing and unusual guy,” said Ryan. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.