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Peter Berg directs Netflix’s six-episode “Painkiller” with a near-maniacal fervor. There is an urgency in his account of the beginning of the opioid crisis in this country — which should be applauded given the ongoing damage being done by Purdue Pharma — but it is also superficial. Every episode of the series starts with shots of loved ones reading the boilerplate “fictionalized” disclaimer before paying tribute to “what wasn’t fictionalized” in their life, after their addiction that led to their death killed them. It’s an effective reminder of the truth at the heart of what “Painkiller” seeks to unpack — how greed destroys lives — but such thin characters, aggressive filmmaking choices and utter lack of subtlety mean every episode fails to strike the right tone for its heartbreaking overtures.

“Painkiller,” developed by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster from a New Yorker article by Patrick Radden Keefe and Barry Meier’s Pain Killer: An Empire of Deceit and the Origin of America’s Opioid Epidemic, moves on four intertwining tracks. The central one belongs to Edie Flowers (Uzo Aduba), an investigator for U.S. Attorney’s Office who is being interviewed by a law firm planning a civil suit against OxyContin manufacturer Purdue Pharma. She basically narrates the show we watch, telling us about how pain medication changed everything.

Which means Richard Sackler (Matthew Broderick), Dr. Frankenstein–ing this monster, has to be here too, along with his cadre of creeps like brother Raymond (Sam Anderson) and all those other suits who put profit over caution. Broderick goes similar places (less effectively) as Michael Stuhlbarg did in “Dopesick,” Hulu’s award-winning series on similar ground –– a kind of sociopathic disengagement from humanity. Richard has an abusive father in a couple of flashbacks, and it’s nearly implied that trauma broke him. If Aduba’s eyes have fire, Broderick’s have ice.

A battle of wills between Edie and the Sacklers might be enough for a feature film version of “Painkiller,” but this is a Netflix mini-series — so we need two more. The better of the two is the “case study” arc of Glen Kryger (Taylor Kitsch), a mechanic who suffers a horrific accident in the premiere which leads to his addiction to OxyContin. Kitsch, an underrated actor in general, does strong work here too, but ultimately it’s still a vein that’s too thin. It’s noble to shine a light on how many regular people Richard Sackler never even thought about when he made his decisions. But the rest of “Painkiller” is so wildly spun that Kryger feels like he’s being used and manipulated. There are undeniably moving moments in parts of the Kryger arc thanks to Kitsch and Carolina Bartczak as his wife; they move us because we know what they’re going through. But it’s also manipulative writing hitting every beat with all the grace of watching a slow-motion car crash.

With Britt (Dina Shihabi) and Shannon (West Duchovny, who seems to have the stuff for more complex roles), two Purdue Pharma sales reps who stumble onto a whole lot of money pushing drugs on smalltown doctors, Berg takes a completely different filmmaking tack. A shark when we meet her, Shihabi is already playing Britt to the cheap seats, sketching her character like somebody who never realized “The Wolf of Wall Street” was about a bad guy; this new girl arc may give Duchovny some subtlety — she will obviously learn that she’s working in a corrupt system — but none of it is subtle. This is the kind of show that has people partying to Bow Wow Wow’s “I Want Candy” at a Purdue Pharma corporate event one episode after using Iggy Pop’s “Candy” on the soundtrack. Get it? The drugs are like candy.

If “Painkiller” had been pitched as “The Big Short” about the opioid crisis, that’s almost impossible to sustain across six hours with multiple arcs that barely intersect. “This isn’t just about a pill that killed a lot of people,” says Edie. “It’s bigger than that.” She speaks for the filmmakers, who spend every episode reminding us they’re telling the bigger story but often forget about all those other elements:

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