Directed by: David Fincher and Carl Franklin
Written by: John Douglas, Mark Olshaker, Joe Penhall
Starring: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Anna Torv, Stacey Roca, Cotter Smith, Albert Jones
Reviewed by: Brad Williamson
Genre: Crime / Biopic
This unforgettable series chronicles the FBI’s efforts during the 1970s to develop a method of psychological profiling with which to identify and catch serial killers, but it doesn’t stop there. It also examines the cultural, racial, and political reasons for the sudden prominence of serial killers during this era, as well as the effects this work has on the brilliant and varied cast. And it does all this nearly flawlessly.
The acting, the bedrock of any television show, is some of the best you’ll ever see. Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, and Anna Torv are all brilliant. Groff and McCallany have a very strange yet natural chemistry, while Torv steals the show every time she appears. The peripheral characters are also convincing in their roles. The quality of the acting is on par with the best films and HBO or Showtime productions.
The writing is also phenomenal. Whether it’s the interviews with serial killers, discussions with other police officers, fights within the bureau, or family issues, the topics and how they’re addressed are both fluid and natural while also being sophisticated and thoughtful. It is a very cerebral show, but it makes you think in a way that is thoroughly enjoyable and is never confusing, overly complicated, or distracting.
The direction is equally great. Whether you’re watching one of Fincher’s episodes or any of the others, the scope of each episode within the season’s arc, as well as the flow of each individual episode, is always perfectly shot and edited.
The only fault the show has is when it delves a little too deeply into the characters’ personal lives. Still, one of the most powerful plots evolves from one such examination, so it’s difficult to fault these segues too harshly. But I can’t deny that my least favorite moments throughout the series are when the show stops to focus on some minor aspect of one of their lives. In the end, however, these pit stops last only briefly and ultimately aren’t very bothersome.
This show challenges Dark for the title of best show on Netflix, and is one of the best television shows I’ve ever seen. It has something for everyone and I would recommend it to anyone, no matter their interests. Go watch it.