Despite its horrible subject matter, and as macabre as it may seem, there are actually some laughs at the end of "Angel of Death," a compelling if somewhat unsatisfying documentary about America's worst serial killer, Donald Harvey (Sunday at 10 p.m. on Channel 6, 10:30 p.m. on Channel 11).
In case you've misplaced your Top 5 U.S. serial killer score card, Harvey is the 35-year-old nurse who confessed last summer to killing 58 people in Kentucky and Cincinnati over 16 years.
Most of his victims were patients in hospitals where he was working, and Harvey claims the killings were mercy killings. Most of the victims were quietly but effectively killed in their hospital beds by lethal injections of cyanide, but he also smothered a comatose patient with a plastic bag. During his off-hours he put hepatitis germs in the coffee of a woman friend who was bugging him, delivered a poisoned pie to his upstairs neighbor and slipped arsenic to his homosexual lover's bothersome mother. Harvey, who is now serving three consecutive life sentences in Ohio, was only caught by accident.
Despite some dramatic excesses, unclear spots and unanswered questions, reporter Bob MacKenzie of KTVU in Oakland competently reports the basic facts of this genuine American horror story. He interviews Harvey's family members and school teachers, who agree that Harvey was a regular Boy Scout--polite, considerate, well dressed. A model son.