Monday 23 September 2019

Pick of the week: Mindhunter

Friday, Netflix

Trail of a killer

Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

Netflix shows can be hit and miss, but its 2017 series Mindhunter was a gripping slow-burner about the early days of serial killer profiling. It's inspired by the career and writings of John E Douglas, an FBI agent who developed a revolutionary system of profiling and catching serial murderers. The character of Jack Crawford in The Silence of the Lambs and other films is based on Douglas too, but while those movies were action-packed thrillers, Mindhunter is an altogether more cerebral affair, as 1970s FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) slowly builds his theory that psychology could play a vital role in the apprehension of serial killers.

In season one, Ford did not win many friends at the bureau when he suggested that Charles Manson could be seen as a victim. He meant that there had to be a link between Manson's appalling upbringing and his subsequent behaviour, and believed that talking to him and other multiple killers could lead to a deeper understanding of psychopaths, and help develop a profiling system to stop them. An enlightened boss places Ford at the centre of a pioneering profiling unit, which begins involving itself in various murder cases across the United States.

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The most gripping scenes in season one were the tense interviews between Ford and real-life serial killers like Ed Kemper, Montie Russell and Richard Speck, whom the agent attempted to flatter and cajole into revealing their motivations for the dreadful crimes they'd committed. He sometimes sought their advice on live cases, and in season two he'll need plenty of help as he heads to Atlanta to investigate a spate of murders involving children and adolescents. The case was a real one, and pretty early on Ford comes to the conclusion that the killer is an African-American, just as John E Douglas did in real life. But that thesis will lead to all sorts of complications. Anna Torv, Hannah Gross and Holt McCallany co-star.


Sports picks

International Rugby Union

Today, RTE 2, 1.30pm

Hard to believe, but the Rugby World Cup is now only just over a month away, and Joe Schmidt's Ireland begin their preparations this afternoon with a friendly against Italy at the Aviva Stadium. After their rather flat performance during the Six Nations, no one knows quite what to expect from the Irish in Japan, but maybe coming in under the radar will be no bad thing. Daire O'Brien and guests introduce live coverage.

The Saturday Game Live

Today, RTE 2, 4.15pm

Of the remaining All-Ireland Football contenders, it's Mayo who've drawn the short straw and must face Dublin this afternoon at Croke Park. The Westerners have blown hot and cold this season but put in a decent display against Donegal last weekend and should remind themselves that they've run the Dubs pretty close in the not too distant past. Joanne Cantwell introduces the action.

Live Super Sunday

Sunday, Sky Sports Main Event, 1pm

After an endless three-month break, the Premier League is back, and Sky's live double bill this afternoon kicks off at Saint James' Park, where Newcastle and their new manager Steve Bruce face Arsenal. After that we're off to Old Trafford, where Manchester United face Chelsea, who also have a new manager - Frank Lampard.

The Sunday Game Live

Sunday, RTE 2, 2.30pm

In All-Ireland Football semi number two, Kerry and Tyrone meet at Croker. The sides play in contrasting styles, and Tyrone might just fancy their chances against a Kerry side that has played well at times this year but look vulnerable at the back. Pat Spillane, Sean Cavanagh and Kevin McStay join Joanne Cantwell for the build-up, Ger Canning commentates.

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