When it comes to the true crime genre the stakes in McMillions are fairly low. $24 million. That's it. Don't get me wrong, that's a lot of money. But in a genre usually concerned with recounting, investigating and examining stories about dodgy lives and suspicious deaths a six-part deep dive into a money scam is hardly a crucial high stakes deep dive.
And that's before we even get to the victim of this not so heinous crime; McDonald's. Yes. The global fast food chain whose restaurants increasingly resemble depression and whose food is the only thing you crave on the way home from a boozy night out.
It's hard to feel much sympathy for a faceless global corporation like McDonald's but McMillions certainly gives it a good shot by wheeling out some faces. Their head of global security is predictably stony faced and their former Comms executive is predictably bubbly and chirpy.
Even dear old Ronald McDonald appears. Remember him? The once cherished clown mascot who McDonald's disposed of with as much sentimentality as the lettuce strewn, mayo stained Big Mac box you toss in the bin after you're done eating.
But don't get too excited, he's only shown in archive footage from 1989 through to 2001, the years Monopoly scam occurred. But wouldn't it have been marvellous to see him now, sitting in a sterile corporate boardroom, gravely recounting his take on these events?
One person who does break all stereotypes is FBI Special Agent Doug Mathews whose job title does not mesh at all with his show-offy personality. He's the guy largely responsible for upsizing a nothing burger into a major FBI case with extra fries.
As a young enthusiastic rookie Matthews was keen to start fulfilling all of his action movie FBI agent fantasies. Instead he was assigned to a sleepy branch in Jacksonville that mostly investigated minor health frauds.
Desperate for excitement he one day spotted a post-it note on his grizzled partner's computer that read, "McDonald's Monopoly Fraud?".
"I said, 'what is that?', because I'm bored to death with this healthcare garbage, right?" Matthews tells us in typically bombastic fashion. "I say, 'gimme that damn thing, I'm gonna go check that out,'. Because I'm seeing the fun meter with that. It's gotta be more fun than this shit I'm working at."
Matthews clearly loves being in front of the camera. He excitably relives the story with a storytellers instinct, exaggerating and deprecating as needed and scrunching his face into a wide grin whether his frequent gags land or not.
His superiors all seem to have a soft spot for the brazen chatterbox, even while rolling their eyes whenever his name's mentioned. Many confess he can get a bit much. As an example McMillions re-enacts the highly confidential meeting where the FBI first revealed to McDonald's that their long-running and extremely popular promotion had been compromised. Matthews bowled along to the very serious, politically delicate meeting wearing a golden French-fry coloured suit. It did not go down well.
Still, his unorthodox thinking really does power the case. It's his idea to lead an undercover team - fufilling one of his FBI dreams - posing as a McDonald's camera crew to go and interview a recent, highly dubious, million dollar winner. Later he cooks up a plan to stage a phony "Winners Reunion" in Las Vegas as a way to get all the other suspicious winners from previous years down on tape as well.
The mystery at the artery-clogged heart of McMillions , which is streaming on Neon, is in discovering just how the Monopoly game was rigged. A trip to the printing plant where the little game cards were made shows the military grade security in place to ensure the game simply couldn't be.
How did "Uncle Jerry" do it? And how did the mob get involved? And how many of these "winners", who mostly weren't criminals until greed got the better of them, get locked up for their part in the scam?
Matthews and the FBI did solve the case back in 2001 so all these answers are a mere Google search away, but where's the fun in that?
Unlike the usual True Crime fare which makes entertainment out of the horrific, McMillions is flashy and trashy and just satisfying enough to leave you wanting more. Much like a McDonald's burger then.
McMillions is streaming on Neon