TV series review: Catch Me A Killer

Sunday, March 17, 2024 Permalink

I much prefer television to movies. I suspect it’s because you get to stay with characters a bit longer. Develop relationships. Know them. Understand them. And I’m a self-confessed TV series binger from way back.

I only have a couple of streaming services (Netflix and Prime) at the moment so miss out on a stack of stuff, but I tend to find myself watching shows from other countries or in other languages, many gems I discover on SBS here in Australia.

The latest, that I’ve just finished watching, is Catch Me A Killer. Like reading, while I won’t read non-fiction, I don’t watch documentaries. But weirdly I don’t mind fictionalised versions of true stories.

I’d never heard of South African forensic profiler Dr Micki Pistorius but loved the portrayal of her in this series, which is based on her book of the same name.

Micki is pulled away from her work at a university in the mid 1990s to join the police back when criminal profilers were a rarity. Here each episode (or two-episode arc) features a different serial killer. It means we travel to different locations in South Africa as she (and a small team of one or two) support local police. I’d really liked one of the cops in the first episode so was a bit disappointed we moved on, but it’s useful to see the attitudes and behaviour of different police services. Interestingly most portrayed here supported Micki’s work. Recognising they were in over their heads. Many however didn’t like the fact that she was an advocate of getting inside the killers’ heads to empathise with them. Or understand how and why they’ve become the person they are now.

I enjoyed the TV show Mindhunter, which was on Netflix (2017-2019). It was set a decade or two before Catch Me A Killer and centred around the FBI’s Behavioural Services Unit. I loved some of the performances, particularly of the serial killers (questioned as part of the team’s research). And then there was Black Bird on Apple TV, with another chilling performance by an actor playing a serial killer. Giving us insight that is both fascinating and horrifying.

What I liked about Catch Me A Killer though was that it’s kinda understated. It’s subtle rather than dramatic. And actress Charlotte Hope (who I hadn’t seen before, but was apparently in Game of Thrones) was excellent in the lead. I very much like the way we see the impact her work has on her mental health and relationships, again… underplayed rather than OTT.

Also interesting, but only to me, was that I was living in nearby Mozambique for about 18 months in 1995-1996 so a lot of the scenery felt very familiar. And authentic. I knew nothing of these cases, these killers and their victims, but I feel like this show brings with it an authenticity and a sense of humanity that sat well with me rather than left me with nightmares.

In Australia, Catch Me a Killer is available on (free to air) SBSonDemand.

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