The Alienist

7.7 / 10
47 min
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" gives "The Alienist - Season 1" a 7.5."
Written by on 31 July 2018.
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The Alienist - Season 1

In the 19th century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be alienated from their own true natures. Experts who studied them were therefore known as alienists.

TNT brought us the limited crime show The Alienist in January 2018. It's definitely not the acting, as we had Dakota Fanning (Taken), Luke Evans (The Great Train Robbery) and Daniel Brühl (The Trip) starring as the main characters. Unfortunately though, The Alienist doesn't fully work. The story never really manages to reach the audience. The question is then: how is that possible?

People aren't ready for this new, high-falutin' form of investigation. They just want this son of a bitch caught. It would scare the people if they found out that an alienist could figure this out before their police department could.

The Alienist is based upon Caleb Carr's novel of the same name, and it is also a term used in psychiatry. The ten-part series takes place in New York City in 1886, but it is also slightly fictional. Though it does require some research if you want to find out which of the story elements are fact and which are fictional. And once you do that various websites will also contradict each other. So I decided to take everything with a grain of salt.

The Alienist tells the story of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Brühl) who finds himself involved in a brutal homicide. He, in turn, involves John Moore (Evans), who get tasked with sketching the murders. Sara Howard (Fanning), the first female employee at the NYPD, also gets involved and joins the two men in finding the murderer. The story itself has few issues.


But then we get to the main issue: too much time is spent on side issues. Besides that the story isn't always that coherent and at some point that becomes a nuisance. The dialogues and chemistry between the main characters isn't that great either. Luke Evans doesn't really suit the story and Dakota Fanning sometimes seems out of place in the streets of 19th century New York.

Turn me down, by all means. But don't pretend I have no feelings for you.

The show isn't bad, but I just expected and had hoped for something better. Think of shows such as Ripper Street or Penny Dreadful, which both take place approximately in the same time period. It's a shame that there are very few things that are relevant to the main story line, we could've seen a lot more of the murderer or forensic science used to track him. At some points it does get exciting and then you hope for some progress, but it just ends up slowing down again.

With The Alienist I was hoping to see something new, but unfortunately that isn't the case. It's all been done before, both in present and past times. The show's setting, New York City in the beginning of the 20th century, isn't new either. How poor people were at the time and how dark everything appeared to be. How people thought about women in the police force. We've all seen it before.

Nonetheless, this crime show does get 7.5 points. It's definitely not that bad, but it could've been so much more. The Alienist can also be watched on Netflix.
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