What to Watch: Mysteries and Crime

What to Watch: Mysteries and Crime

Here's something about me: I'm a fan of true crime cases, unsolved and solved. I love exploring serial killers, their motives, physiology and psychology. If you follow my twitter account, chances are you've seen me frequently tweet about these things, especially Buzzfeed Unsolved. I also wrote a post like this once but I thought I should make an updated list.

The Frankenstein Chronicles

Status: watched
Genre: period crime with bits of historical period

A body appeared on the bank of river Thames and not just any body. The corpse is revealed to be a creature made up of body parts from up to eight children (ha, Frankenstein much?) Detective John Marlott (played by Sean Bean, aka Ned Stark of House Winterfell from Game of Thrones) is ordered by home secretary to investigate the case and hopefully, catch the perpetrator. With the only clue from a vagrant boy who told him about a children snatching 'monster', the investigation requires detective Matlott to involve quite a few famous figures such as Mary Shelley, Sir Robert Peel, William Blake and Charles "Boz" Dickens. If you are a fan of period setting and a little bit of political involvement, this series will give you both in the form of tall hats-wearing gentlemen and a little bit of historical lesson through The Anatomy Act 1892.

The Alienist

Status: watched
Genre: psychological thriller

In the 19th century, persons suffering from mental illness were thought to be alienated from their own true natures. Experts who studied them were therefore known as alienists.

Daniel Brühl, Luke Evans, Douglas Smith, Matthew Shear and Dakota Fanning band together to hunt down a serial killer who preys on boy prostitutes in 1896 New York. Based on Caleb Carr's novel of the same name, criminal psychologist Dr. Laszlo Krezler (played by Brühl) assembles a team consisting of an illustrator, a headstrong secretary to the police commissioner and Jewish twin brothers who are both detective sergeants in the NYPD. Together the team is appointed by newly appointed police commissioner Theodore Roosevelt to quietly conduct an investigation.

While it may look like The Alienist is comparable to The Frankenstein Chronicles, I can tell you that the thrill it brings is sort of different. Unlike the latter, The Alienist also explores a killer's mind in order to be one step ahead of him. With a solid performance from the cast, the show not only conducts a well-constructed world building but also reveals to us the social stratification during that era. I personally love Sara Howard, the character Dakota Fanning plays, for rejecting the stigma of women unable to handle a gruesome murder case.

Bonus: Jakob Verbruggen, who has directed episodes of Black Mirror, serves as the director and executive producer for The Alienist.

Ripper Street

Status: currently watching
Genre: drama, mystery

In case you haven't picked up the traces, I love period setting. I love the tall hats, the seemingly bothersome-to-use suits and dresses and most importantly, the world structure. As if it's not enough with the first two shows, Ripper Street has given me another chance to be in awe with a period crime-slash-mystery series. Set in 1899 of Whitechapel in the East of London six months after the notorious Jack the Ripper killings, Ripper Street revolves around murders investigated by the H Division, a department responsible for policing one and a square miles of East London. Together with Detective Sergeant Bennet Drake (played by Jerome Flynn aka Bronn from Game of Thrones) and former Pinkerton agent Captain Homer Jackson (played by Adam Rothenberg), Inspector Edmund Reid (played by Matthew Macfadyen, aka Mr. Darcy from Pride & Prejudice) leads the team to investigate a series of murders happening around his jurisdiction.

In contrary to Frankenstein Chronicles and The Alienist, Ripper Street is more than just a linear story of cat and mouse with a killer. Instead, they are chasing killers which means if you are someone who prefers a different case for each episode, this might be something you'd be interested in. Similarly, the spices for drama following the lives of each detective are set to follow.

The Pinkertons

Status: currently watching
Genre: western period, police procedural drama

The Pinkertons is probably one of the lightest police investigation series I've picked up (the second one I'm going to mention below) Based on the real life Pinkerton detective agency, the show also features actual, real life cases from the Pinkerton agency archives dating to the 1860s. Since I just started watching the series, I haven't been able to completely evaluate the show as a whole but I personally have always been interested in the Pinkertons, their cases and how they solve them. With that said, I have a bit of expectation for the show. Plus, it's always a bonus to know that Kate Warren, one of the three protagonists, was the first female detective and Pinkerton agent in US history.


Status: currently watching
Genre: fantasy, supernatural, occult detective & police procedural

If I were to describe this series in one sentence, it would be when Once Upon A Time meets half of Supernatural. I say half because while Grimm deals with supernatural creatures such as blutbad (aka wolves), anubis, wendigos and bauerschwein (a fancy term for pig-like creatures), it's not as grim (hah) or dark as the Winchester brothers. In fact, the tone and colours kind of resemble Once Upon A Time a little bit. The plot follows Nick Burkhardt, a homicide police detective descended from a line of hunters called Grimm. To put it simply, Grimms hunt down Wesen, the supernaturals. As it sounds, Grimm is pretty much an easy-to-follow series with linear episodes that do not require you to twist your brain or concentrate very much, at least not yet. I'm not sure how much the series will venture forth since I'm still on the first season but so far, so good.

Peaky Blinders

Status: to be watch
Genre: historical fiction, crime, drama

Here we go again, a bunch of gentlemen in suits and hats because Netflix knows what I like. I haven't watched Peaky Blinders at all so I can't really tell you what I think about it. But I do have high hopes for this one because Cillian Murphy is a good actor. Unlike the other series, Peaky Blinders is more of a gangster, crime family during the aftermath of World War I so I don't think there will be any serial killer hunt. Interesting enough, the name Peaky Blinders refers to a real life criminal gang based in Birmingham, England during the Victorian era.

As far as I know, finding a good crime-related tv series is like trying to find a diamond among the haystacks. I'm sure there are a crap ton of police detective or crime series out there but I need something that can grip me the way The Alienist does — or maybe it's the tall hats and olden days aesthetic that drew me in. Other than tv series, I've been listening to true crime and supernatural podcasts too, especially at work (they actually help me focus!) I'll be sharing them in a separate post once I'm done selecting the candidates off my list.