It’s Murder and Mental Illness, Not Aliens


David Brühl portrays Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a criminal psychologist who takes it upon himself to investigate a child’s murder.

For those that have been searching for a new fast-paced crime drama, combined with the styles of Victorian England and the New York Gilded Age, that case has now been solved.

On Monday, Jan. 22, “The Alienist” premiered on TNT, a network known for its drama-filled shows such as “Rizzoli and Isles,” “Dallas” (the revival of the beloved CBS show), and “The Closer.” This limited series TV show is based on Caleb Carr’s book by the same name first published in 1994. The book is a part of the Dr. Kreizler series, book two is titled “Angel of Darkness” (1997), and book three is to be released sometime in 2019 by the name of “The Alienist at Armageddon.”

The show opens with a murder that sets up a reason for the characters to unite. A young boy who worked as a prostitute has been disemboweled and chopped into pieces, eyes plucked out, yet wearing a little girl’s white dress.

The setting quickly flashes to the home of Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (portrayed by David Brühl), a psychologist and alienist. An alienist, as the audience learns within the first minute of the pilot episode “The Boy on The Bridge,” is someone who has studied people who have mental illnesses. Mental illness at the time was looked on with skeptical eyes. People with illnesses were sent to asylums and prisons, which is why those who found the study of these people interesting were looked on with disapproval in society.

Then, viewers are introduced to John Moore (portrayed by Luke Evans), a newspaper illustrator, who is sent by Dr. Kreizler to draw the scene of the crime.  Moore gives Dr. Kreizler the drawings, and he immediately takes it upon himself to investigate the crime due to the similarities it has to a previous death.

His investigating takes both  Moore and himself to the police department where Miss Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning) works as a secretary and the first female employee of the police department.

A lot is learned in the 48 minutes of episode one. The show is exceptionally fast-paced, so those who like to be on the edge of their seat won’t be disappointed. However, those who prefer to take a small breath and think over what already has happened may need to re-watch the episode a couple of times to catch all the little clues.

Characters aren’t two-dimensional; they are believable and relatable. It is clear when something bothers a character or when they feel strongly about something.

Miss Howard is a character any female could relate to when she is told that she can’t do something because she is a woman. She despises the conventions placed on her, and her fire makes Dr. Kreizler see her as an asset to his investigation. Moore is every person who just wants to escape from their lives, even for a moment. He is creative, although a little agitated with how he is treated by Dr. Kreizler. Dr. Kreizler himself is an ambitious and emotional man who will stop at nothing to avenge a memory of a boy he failed.

The setting is believable, set in New York during the Gilded Age. There are many grey tones in the brick and metal, with fog and smoke floating in the air. Costuming is accurate to the era as well. All the darker tones and dim lighting adds to the suspense of there being a murderer on the loose.

This television show is not for the faint-hearted. It is rated TV-MA for blood and gore, and the visual effects are well done when it comes to the macabre. There is some nudity and sexual situations as well so anyone discomforted by those situations may have to turn away.   check this show out. With the unique setting of the 19th century New York, something is refreshing about not being able to solve a case within one episode as the technology has yet to be invented

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