What's new

The Alienist (TNT) (1 Viewer)

Adam Lenhardt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2001
Messages
26,916
Location
Albany, NY
Caleb Carr's best selling novel finally makes its way to the screen in the form of a 10-episode limited series event on TNT. The series premiered last night after the SAG Awards, and the pilot was aired again tonight.

From a technical standpoint, this is a first-class production. TNT, Paramount and Anonymous Content have spared no expense. Shot over the course of six months in Budapest, the production carefully weaved together period-appropriate locations and massive sets to recreate 1896 New York City. Jane Eyre production designer Will Hughes-Jones and Django Unchained art director Mara LePere-Schloop create a world that is dark and grimy but fully immersive. Star Wars sequel trilogy costume designer Michael Kaplan populates the world with late nineteenth century fashions.

The cast is also top-notch, led by a trio of major film stars: Daniel Brühl stars as Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, the titular character who is pioneering a line of work that will come to be known as profiling. Luke Evans plays John Moore, one of the top illustrators for the New York Times, brought in by Kreizler to document crime scenes. And Dakota Fanning is Sara Howard, the secretary to the commissioner of police and the first woman to work at Police Headquarters. Q'orianka Kilcher and Ted Levine also pop up in supporting roles.

The strange thing is that when you set aside the sumptuous production and period setting, what you're left with is a pretty standard TNT crime procedural. Kreizler, Moore and Howard are clearly destined to become a crime-solving team. And while the methods made differ from the modern day, the story rhythms are largely the same.

The biggest disappointment for me is Brian Geraghty as Commissioner Theodore Roosevelt. He plays the role too subdued and too somber. Sean Astin was originally cast in the role and filmed for some time before flying back and forth between Atlanta and Budapest became too much. I think he would have better captured the larger than life persona that Teddy Roosevelt demands.

The performance that works best for me is Evans as Moore. He's the character that feels least constricted by the period setting. Brühl is very solid as Kreizler, but the script burdens him with too much portentous dialog. When he's allowed to do rather than just ruminate, as in the scene where he interviews the late stage syphilitic man covered in gummas, the character comes to life.

Fanning wasn't given much to do in this pilot: she is a woman from privilege, operating in a man's field during a time of repressive gender roles. That leaves her to play frustrating and indignant. We've seen this character plenty of times before. I look forward to seeing what she brings to the table once the show breaks her out of the box society has placed her in.
 

Malcolm R

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 8, 2002
Messages
24,902
Real Name
Malcolm
I've been looking forward to this, and enjoyed what I saw in the first episode. It hasn't got the best reviews in some publications, but they don't always align with my taste anyway.
 

StephenDH

Supporting Actor
Joined
Aug 2, 2005
Messages
764
Location
UK
Real Name
Stephen
It's very impressive and so far is doing the novel justice. It's like a ramped-up version of Ripper Street.
I hope it does well enough so that CC's other book, "The Angel of Darkness" is also adapted for TV. Once you meet Libby Hatch you'll be sleeping with the lights on for weeks.
 

Stan

Senior HTF Member
Joined
May 18, 1999
Messages
5,177
First few episodes on the DVR, teasers looked good, seemed like a nice generic criminal drama show. Yet after reading the description of the first episode (a boy prostitute found butchered...), not at all what the previews looked like. Not sure if I'm ready to watch. Open to all sorts of awful things, enjoy crime shows, it's all fiction of course, but this one seems a bit much.

Violence is so pervasive in the world today, might be time for more of the "Mary Poppins" genre. :P
 

EricSchulz

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jan 6, 2004
Messages
5,564
I haven't caught it yet, but the book was phenomenal. Definitely needs a mini-series as opposed to a feature film. Hope to get caught up soon!
 

Hollywoodaholic

Edge of Glory?
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
3,287
Location
Somewhere in Florida
Real Name
Wayne
The production values and set dressing are awesome.

The show?.... Not so much. It's just too familiar territory. Especially if you were a fan of Ripper Street or other period serial killer stories. Or any serial killer series. Everything and everyone just comes off a little bit stock.

I read and enjoyed the Caleb Carr book when it first came out but have mostly forgotten any details of the story other than the broad strokes and the lead character.

I don't remember the dialogue in the book being as bad as it is in this series. It doesn't remotely put you in the period of the piece. I'm not sure about Bruhl's acting choice either, the way he delivers the bad dialogue. He very precisely projects every syllable in a Data kind of way, but it's way too.... actorly (if that's an adjective). Fanning's dialogue is even worse, and the close up shots of her staring wide-eyed directly at the camera don't help.

I was warming to the Luke Evans' Moore character, but then
he is drugged and heavily sodomized (off camera, thank goodness) in a boy's brothel the second episode, but soon smiling back to normal in the next episode. Seems there'd be a few more repercussions to such a violation. Maybe we'll see more later, but geez, even the villain said he wouldn't be sitting down for quite a while!

I'm hanging in there mainly because I don't remember how the book ends, and the production and sets are quite detailed and stunning, but I don't see this making anyone's favorite lists for the year.
 

Adam Lenhardt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2001
Messages
26,916
Location
Albany, NY
The show?.... Not so much. It's just too familiar territory. Especially if you were a fan of Ripper Street or other period serial killer stories. Or any serial killer series. Everything and everyone just comes off a little bit stock.

I don't remember the dialogue in the book being as bad as it is in this series. It doesn't remotely put you in the period of the piece. I'm not sure about Bruhl's acting choice either, the way he delivers the bad dialogue. He very precisely projects every syllable in a Data kind of way, but it's way too.... actorly (if that's an adjective). Fanning's dialogue is even worse, and the close up shots of her staring wide-eyed directly at the camera don't help.

I agree on both points. The characters are all types we've seen before, and the stilted dialog doesn't do any of the cast any favors. When Sara Howard's allowed to be a detective, Dakota Fanning's performance comes alive. But most the time she's stuck just being repressed and oppressed, and there's not a lot for her to work with there.

The biggest lead weight among the cast continues to be Brian Geraghty as Roosevelt. He's wooden and subdued when the role requires an actor who can be expressive and animated. Roosevelt's personality should dominate every room he's in, and this Roosevelt just fades into the background.

The actor who's doing the best work so far is Ted Levine as Thomas F. Byrnes, the chief of detectives who was pressured by Roosevelt to resign shortly before the events of the series but continues to pull the strings and smooth the waters between the police department and the city's elites.
 

Adam Lenhardt

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Feb 16, 2001
Messages
26,916
Location
Albany, NY
I'm increasingly intrigued by the story, but increasingly frustrated by the execution.

Stephen Louis Grush's appearance in tonight's episode as Jesse Pomeroy, the infamous "Boston Boy Fiend", was the first performance in this series to genuinely impress me. He layered in just enough of a Boston accent to connect the dots for the audience, without overdoing it. And more importantly, he's the first actor that didn't seem achingly aware that he was in a period piece set 122 years ago. There's a directness and immediacy to his performance than none of the others have had. He's a true and utter psychopath, present tense, here in the room now, not an impression of what a psychopath might have like in 1896. And it triggers the best moment yet from Brühl: Pomery has Kreizler backed up against the wall, a knife in his face. And Kreizler stares back unblinking at his would-be assailant; This monster has slipped off his human suit for a moment, and Kreizler wants to suck up every detail of what is revealed in that moment.

My other favorite moment was outside T.R.'s office, when Sara Howard asked the two young detectives working with Kreizler how two males copulate. Such an indiscreet question, asked in such a bloodless, Victorian way. And Douglas Smith, one of the few lively performers on this prestige drama, gives a delightful answer.

Casting David Warner, the man who embodied Jack the Ripper in the 1979 Time After Time, as Kreizler's old professor was brilliant.

Very unusual, structurally, to have the perpetrator identified and under pursuit at the halfway point.
 

Hollywoodaholic

Edge of Glory?
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Nov 8, 2007
Messages
3,287
Location
Somewhere in Florida
Real Name
Wayne
If you haven't started this, just don't. It was one of those shows that instantly didn't work (for me), but because you invested the time to watch and had read the book eons ago, you had to stick it out. No real suspense. No coherency. No great character payoffs. No humor. No pathos. But some fantastic production values, streets lined with costumed extras and a budget any other show would probably kill for. An experiment for TNT? Well, in some respects, because it was definitely a BOMB.
 

Doug Wallen

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Oct 21, 2001
Messages
14,305
Location
Macon, Ga.
Real Name
Doug
I stuck it out,it seemed to peak around episode 5 for me. That would have been my cut off, but I felt the story had advanced. I now feel that I should have just dropped it after such an unsatisfying ending. I thought it would be a bit more clear cut about the conclusion. Since their now friends, does this mean there will be more? I'm not sure I want to see more of any of these folks. Not really buying the TNT hype of how successful this show has been. Just sort of average. Nothing that I really want a second season of.

Set design was spectacular. It was amazing to see the massive numbers of extras every time the show went on New York City streets.
 
Last edited:

John Lee_275604

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Jun 9, 2013
Messages
229
Real Name
John Lee
If I had to sum it up succinctly, I'd use the term 'bloodless'

Not in terms of the actual gore, but in the sterility of the narrative.

I watched the whole thing, partly to see the sets and the cinematography, partly because the concept held such promise. But by the time it was over, I couldn't maintain the fiction that it wasn't connecting with me simply because I wasn't receptive to what it was offering. What it was offering was cold and disjointed, given the florid and compelling concept.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Latest Articles

Forum statistics

Threads
356,478
Messages
5,113,625
Members
144,099
Latest member
HobbitGolf
Recent bookmarks
0
Top