I’m disappointed about what’s happening with “Mindhunter.” It’s a case of excellence interruptus, as the crime drama is suddenly in jeopardy. And it’s not hanging in the balance because of the usual reason: ratings. It’s there because of backstage sloppiness and poor planning. Here’s the chronology of David Fincher’s show, which is about the team that essentially invented profiling serial killers in the late 1970s and early ‘80s.
1. Netflix premieres season 1 in October 2017, and it’s pretty good, but one of the lead characters, played by Jonathan Groff, is too vaguely defined. The interviews with the serial killers, though, are killer, with a particularly effective Cameron Britton playing murderer-necrophile Ed Kemper.
2. Netflix premieres season 2 in August 2019, and it’s riveting. All the problems with the first cycle of episodes have been solved, and the role of the detective played by Holt McCallany has been beautifully expanded. The serial-killer interviews are better than ever, with actors playing David Berkowitz, Charles Manson, Wayne Williams, and others with unnerving intensity.
3. Netflix announces that the series is in jeopardy in January 2020, since Fincher is just too busy to get back to it. “David is focused on directing his first Netflix film, ‘Mank,’ and on producing the second season of ‘Love, Death and Robots,’" Netflix says in a statement. “He may revisit ‘Mindhunter’ again in the future, but in the meantime felt it wasn’t fair to the actors to hold them from seeking other work while he was exploring new work of his own.”
OK, so the show isn’t quite canceled. But it’s on indefinite hold, which is close. Usually, I’m a less-is-more kind of person when it comes to the length of TV series, but in this case it’s a real shame. “Mindhunter” was on its way to becoming a serial-killer TV classic.