When I was in Boston over the holidays I spent a couple of days hiding from the below zero temperature in my hotel room, switching channels between countless reruns of “American Dad” and various dramedies on TNT. I was in the warmth of my vacation bed when I first saw a commercial for the new TNT limited series, THE ALIENIST. Being a fan of period pieces and murder mysteries I was intrigued and made a note to set the DVR to record it once I got home. I recently had the pleasure of previewing the first two episodes of this new show and I’m here to tell you that you should stop whatever it is you’re doing right now and set your DVRs as well, you’re going to want to see this!

Based on the 1994 best-selling novel of the same name, THE ALIENIST begins with the discovery of a brutally dismembered young boy prostitute in New York City in 1896. Our alienist (read: forensic psychologist) Dr. Laszlo Kreizler (Daniel Bruhl) is made aware of the murder and immediately sends for newspaper illustrator John Moore (Luke Evans) to rush over and make a drawing of the gruesome scene. Based on John’s sketches and description of the scene, Dr. Kreizler is convinced this must be the work of a previous offender, establishing the then nouveau concept of what we now know as a serial killer. Kreizler takes these ideas to honest and good willing police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt (Brian Geraghty) who initially rejects Kreizler’s proposal to work together. He’s busy playing by the rules and trying to rid the NYPD of corruption.

While at the commissioner’s office, Kreizler meets secretary Sara Howard (Dakota Fanning), the first woman to work for the police force and a fan of Kreizler’s work. Sara is determined to be the city’s first female detective and after a little persuasion from John she secretly helps the doctor in finding files from previous murders with similar circumstances. While rifling for clues she finds two hidden files on other boy prostitutes who were murdered and the well of mystery deepens. Dr. Kreizler teams up with the commissioner, John, Sara, and two forensic analysts to form a gumshoe brigade that dive into a parallel investigation into these murders.

The first two episodes of THE ALIENIST serve strictly to introduce our main players and lay the ground work for what promises to be a tantalizing mystery. The writers and cast do a wonderful job of creating tension and suspense and it feels as though they are building up to something spectacular. I enjoy the chemistry between Bruhl’s Dr. Kreizler and Evans’ John Moore. Bruhl plays the part with a calm inquisitiveness, while Evans charms with his genuine emotion. While Dakota Fanning doesn’t immediately scream badass bitch she tackles this role with force. I believe that as the show carries on she will be a force to be reckoned with.

TNT’s THE ALIENIST is a beautifully haunting show that will draw you in again and again. From the art direction tot he music choices to the costume design to the pacing of each scene, the show feels masterfully crafted. Tune in and watch the murder and mayhem unfold.

THE ALIENIST airs on TNT Monday January 22nd at 9PM

TV Reviews

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