Here’s the pitch: David Fincher, director of films like “Fight Club” and “Gone Girl,” will produce (and occasionally direct) a 10-part Netflix series on the early days of criminal profiling. Set during the 1970s, the series will be inspired by real-life FBI agents who gained insight from interviews with jailed serial killers. Interested? Yes, the director of “Seven” and “Zodiac” is back in the serial killer milieu, and that makes “Mindhunter” a must-watch.
Year it began: 2017
Where it can be seen: Netflix
Typical episode length: 34-60 minutes
Number of episodes: 10
Who’s in it: Jonathan Groff, Holt McCallany, Hannah Gross, Anna Torv
Brief plot description: In the late 1970s, two FBI agents and a psychologist expand criminal science by delving into the psychology of murder and getting uneasily close to imprisoned serial killers.
Why it’s worth watching: “Mindhunter” is not David Fincher’s first television series — that honor belongs to the now-embattled, always overrated “House of Cards” — but it feels like his most Fincher-ian project since 2007’s “Zodiac.” For this fascinating account of how many of today’s essential criminal psychology techniques came to be, Fincher assembled a strong cast of reliable character actors. Leads Jonathan Groff and Holt McCallany are not household names, but ideally chosen. Groff, star of HBO’s “Looking,” gives a star-making performance as a young agent on the verge of a breakthrough, while the hard-boiled McCallany excels in his meatiest role to date. As the duo form a partnership and begin interviewing killers like Edmund Kemper and Richard Speck, “Mindhunter” becomes an enormously compelling, utterly unique procedural. While the series is not a home run — the initial episodes, especially, building too slowly — it lays the groundwork for what could be a satisfying multi-year run. It does not equal the great “Zodiac,” but “Mindhunter” is certainly another success for David Fincher.