Mindhunter - Netflix, FBI, serial killer profiling

What a cast!

It is based on Mind Hunter: Inside FBI’s Elite Serial Crime Unit written by Mark Olshaker and John E. Douglas

October 13 if anyone else wants to skip the trailer.

Looks intriguing.

Love to see Holt McCallany in stuff.

I’ve read two of Douglas’s books and enjoyed them, especially the first one in that it was about the spearheading work done by that team at the time. I think this will end up well if it follows along those lines.

23 minutes in and it has me wanting to cancel my Netflix subscription and sign up for cable.

I don’t know what’s worse, the acting, the forgettable characters, or the waiting for something interesting to happen.

I want this to be good, have been watching for it.

According to the Variety interview it really doesn’t get interesting until the second episode.

— Alan

I’m with Kerzain, at about the same point 20 minutes in.

I’ve just watched a scene (with the two FBI guys, commiserating first at the car, and then at the bar) that has some of the clunkiest, most god-awful expository dialogue I’ve ever heard in a professional film production.

According to the entire 10 episodes I binged on throughout the night, it doesn’t get interesting until episode 6 or 7. Anna Torv is wasted here, and in order to make the show even barely tolerable I had to completely fast forward through all of the family life stuff (Netflix is so great at allowing viewers to do this with ease), especially for Holden and his Odd-Couple relationship with the most annoying girlfriend ever. All of that crap should have been left on the editing room floor.

Kemper Stuff:

I wasn’t thrilled with Kemper’s portrayal. It started off okay, but the actor here portrays none of the charismatic goofiness of the actual person, and only the very first meeting delivered the goods in my opinion, as the FBI agents are toeing a very fine line and the interview could go sideways and end at any moment’s notice (which would have really sucked, because the rest of the show had absolutely nothing going for it up until this point). Compare old interview footage to this performance, and they’ve got different personalities, with the only similarities being Kemper’s propensity to manipulate people.

But this show never once makes it clear to the audience just how at-ease Kemper could put his victims before turning on them. This is a 6’4" 300 pound guy that was able to coax tons of young college girls and hitchhikers into his car, many of which he subsequently murdered and defiled (and only a couple of which ever truly got weird enough vibes off him to freak out and leave). The performance here comes across as too deliberate, forced. And I don’t mean the character was trying at failing to seem normal in front of the agents, but that the actor was trying too hard to mimic only certain aspects of the killer. Here he just comes across as indulgent and aloof, instead of thoughtful and disarming. And while he can display all of these traits in subsequent public interviews, I don’t see them all fully reflected here. There’s a reason some of these guys can get so close to their prey, and I feel like the show is overlooking that aspect of their personalities here. Maybe they’ll explore that a bit more if they ever cover Bundy.

I feel like they got the right guy for the role, but that he needs to relax a bit and laugh at himself more. Kemper calls himself a “bit of a bumblebutt” in real life interviews, this guy has displayed no such self-depreciating humor or behavior (obviously he doesn’t write or direct the material, but whatever!).

Prologue stuff:

The prologue stuff before each episode has no tension at all, but maybe that’s because I’m already familiar with how that all plays out in real life and I’m just not all that impressed by the perpetrator. I’ve actually read a couple books by the show’s writer, Former FBI Special Agent John Douglas, so maybe this aspect of the show fell flat for me because I already knew how it all plays out in real life. The thing about the perpetrator here is that he’s a complete fuckwit in real life, and the only reason things carried on as long as they did was mostly due to sheer blind luck; because the guys truly is just a moron. This season takes place too early to cover some of the only interesting aspects of that case (mostly his interactions with law enforcement), and nothing much develops on screen here, so I’m not really sure why any of it was needed at this point in time. Nothing is resolved, and nothing can be resolved for a very long time. And even though the behavioral science unit of the FBI had a part to play in this case over the years, I think all this stuff would have been better served up in later seasons.

I was interested in seeing the show because I’ve done some reading about both the Behavioral Science Unit and some of the cases and people they’ve studied, and I thought it might be interesting to see some of it realized on screen. The cherry on top was that this show happens to be based on work by one of the authors of these books (Former FBI Special Agent John Douglas, one of the founding people relating to this unit). Unfortunately, I think the show tries too hard to explore the effects that this work has on these agent’s private lives (which is a common complaint I’ve had about Douglas’ past work), without actually putting in enough time and effort to make me give two shits about these effects, or the people involved. It’s like that one really weird season of Law & Order, when they tried to make viewers care about the private lives of the investigators; they couldn’t properly balance the procedural stuff with the other things unimportant to the plot, like Lenny’s gambling habits, or Van Buren’s discrimination lawsuit against the department. If they want to keep delving into the private lives of these people, they need to strike a better balance, because right now it’s all peripheral and incidental to the plot. Because by the time the season wraps up, I really couldn’t care less about whatever had been building up to the final closing scene of the season.

I also think that my reception to this show is a bit of a sign that I’ve just seen it all done before, and better, when dramatized in movies and shows that were very directly inspired by the specific events and books that this show covers.

My wife and I watched the first episode and thought it was ok. There have been quite a few shows in recent years about profilers and they went to great pains to establish that this wasn’t yet a thing for the audience.

I think my biggest problem was the main character comes across as a guy who is intellectually curious but doesn’t have much in the way of street smarts. That’s ok, but then he starts talking about how he’s done all this undercover work and it was tough to swallow.

Thank you for that write-up, kerzain.

I’ve seen two episodes and some of the writing is surprisingly awful (an “Ed salad sandwich,” really?). I don’t particularly like the performance Jonathan Groff is giving either. Does it get noticeably better after two episodes or does it just stay the same?

It gets better, but it helps if you’re really interested in the subject matter. If not, this isn’t going to land.

Ive liked it so far. Obviously the early episodes are mostly there to develop the characters and setting. It also covers the years during which I went to college so the establishment vs academia vibe it has resonates well with me.

I will say this, as a guilty-pleasure fan of The Last Podcast on the Left, it’s like their greatest hits come to life.

Fincher plus the subject matter and period make watching this a given for me, but man some of the writing is clunky.

So you guys really think the younger lead comes off as naiive? I thought he was actually pretty well written. He says some things that seem idealistic, but always checks himself and listens carefully to his partner, taking in his input. He’s never brash to authority, always respectful but firm in his beliefs.

I’m on the episode where they get funding, its nice to see them getting some respect and recognition.

I thought the second episode was much better than the first. The scenes with the Coed Killer are fantastic. Fully onboard now.

I liked this better than some here - it’s not a Zodiac-level classic, but it’s a solid show. (But anyone going in should know that the first episode is by far the worst one; it’s a slow start.)

After so many shows about superagents cracking cases based on a single molecule of evidence while trading dry one-liners, it’s a welcome relief to see a show where the agents are mere mortals trying to come up with new methods, fumbling their way forward and sometimes screwing up.

I also liked the way they bandied around the question of “what is normal?” - and not just with the suspects - without handing down with definitive, carved-in-stone answers. Even though they ended up going down the tried and true road of having the lead investigator get so into the cases he finds himself identifying with the killers it still works because of the way the character is portrayed - it sneaks up on you that that’s what’s going on.

I also liked the sly references to other FBI/serial killer classics (there’s a shot straight out of Silence of the Lambs in episode 1, and another straight out of Psycho in 3) and the music. Though now “In the Light” will always have sinister connotations.

I’m on episode three now and I’m definitely liking it more as I go along. I think the weakest part is the interactions between the main character and his girlfriend. That stuff feels clunky and just a bit… off to me. The actual procedurally portions are great, though.

Yep I watched episodes 1-3 yesterday and really enjoyed it. really like the scenes with Kemper and his matter of fact telling, very effective those scenes.