Based on the novel of the same name by Caleb Carr, this ten-episode Netflix original brings you the story of the early days of profiling and CSI as we now know it.
Like many other period pieces, The Alienist makes use of a combination of fictional and real people, including Theodore Roosevelt and J.P. Morgan.
The story itself is not something I will go into too much, as we have a longstanding tradition of spoiler-free reviews here at Never Was.
What I can say is that this is not just a period crime drama, nor just another crimi where they try to find a particularly atrocious serial killer, nor your typical SteamGoth show.
This is a show full of interesting characters, forced to look not only at the situation at hand but at themselves. People who grow and change over the course of ten episodes, with in the background changing times and topics that are relevant today.
The Alienist has the advantage of a stellar cast made up of Daniel Brühl, Dakota Fanning and Luke Evans, to name but three. The plot is rock solid and, if you’re anything like me, you’ll watch this show more than once. There is literally not a single bad or boring episode in the first season.
The way the writers have managed to maneuver not just the main plot but also the subplots, with so many different interest groups either aiding or hindring the investigation, is absolutely brilliant.
Even though this season was wrapped up neatly, it leaves you hoping the other books in the series will be adapted as well. Even if that doesn’t happen, though, we still have the novels (which are different to the show in small ways, as the show is an adaptation, not a televised copy).
The Alienist is definitively a recommendation for those who love turn-of-the-century-era fiction. I wouldn’t advise watching this with sensitive young children, however, as some of the images can be gory.