The Alienist, a new TNT 10-part series released in early 2018, is a dramatic, historical mystery based in New York just before the turn of the 20th century. Adapted from an award-winning 1994 novel by Caleb Carr, the long-anticipated miniseries spent almost a quarter century in development.
The 500 pages of Carr’s book were originally purchased by Paramount Pictures before the release of the novel in 1994. Over the next few years, various screenwriters toyed with adaptations that all fell short of encompassing Carr’s dense writing. Paramount Pictures and its producers eventually put aside The Alienist, where it lay dormant for nearly 25 years. Today, the story has been produced by TNT for television.
The much anticipated TNT miniseries, adapted by Hossein Amini and directed by Jakob Verbruggen, has finally reached televisions everywhere.
The Alienist is a crime-drama set in 1890s New York, where a series of inexplicably brutal murders are quickly linked to a single killer. The killer hunts down, mutilates and displays child prostitutes around the city. A German psychologist (Daniel Brühl), an alcoholic sketch-artist (Luke Evans), and the first female employee of the New York Police Department (Dakota Fanning) lead a team using “cutting-edge” science to explore the killer’s motivations as an investigative tool.
The sometimes gruesome, sometimes comical drama explores the evolution of criminal investigation: psychology had little traction as a scientific field and fingerprinting was considered a fringe idea. These struggles compliment the personal growth of the characters who seek to understand their own psychology to better understand the mind of a killer.
While the TNT miniseries speeds through the 500 pages of Caleb Carr’s The Alienist in just 10 episodes, the resulting product is an binge-worthy mystery worth adding to the Netflix queue. High production value, clever portrayals, and historical accuracy makes this show a must-watch for those in search of good acting and a better plot.