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The Alienist by Caleb Carr

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Aggghhhh!! I just saw the commercial for this. I had no idea that this was even in the works!! 

The book is one of my all-time favorites, and making it into a series instead of a film is perfect, because it needs the extended time to give us the world of 1896 New York City. Daniel Bruhl is an excellent choice for Laszlo Kreizler.

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I haven't read this since it first came out and couldn't remember much other than the main characters and Ballston Spa.  Seeing the adverts on tv spurred me into action and I'm now re-reading this and Angel of Darkness (on the Kindle because God knows where my paperbacks are packed away in the garage).

I'd forgotten just how good this book is so now I'm in hyperdrive waiting for the show debut!

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I love the book. I just read it again so that I can safely and smugly say, "the book is better" during the show. Especially hearing about some of the changes they are making. My favorite thing about it is that I work in SoHo so I'm around a lot of the areas that are mentioned in the book. I've gone costume shopping in the Halloween store that's in the building their headquarters is based.

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I was So happy when I saw the commercials for this.  I love the casting!  After watching the sneak peak tonight, I'm interested in why they made some of the changes, especially Roosevelt's dislike for Kreizler.

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I don’t know if it’s dislike—I read it more as TR is tired of being challenged in his authority, and Lazslo just added another dollop of challenge to the mix.

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Maybe not dislike, but in the book, Roosevelt was the one that brought Kreizler into the investigation and in the show, he seems to be against Kreizler's participation.

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I'm glad this is the book topic since I'm reading the book again.  I think one of the main problems that the show has, is that the book is told 100% from the POV of Moore, so things happen in the book, that sort of go unexplained; like the exhumation.  In the book Moore comes to the Institute and Kreizler just tells him, "we're going to exhume the bodies now," and we're introduced to the Isaacson brothers.  But I wondered who gave Kreizler the authority to exhume the bodies and what did the parents of the children think?  

Another issue with the book is the numerous historical details that work when you're reading it, but are hard to translate to film.  I liked how in the show, no one even mentioned that they were building the Williamsburg Bridge, let the audience figure out what bridge it's supposed to be.  In the book there was a lengthy description of the bridge.  The book is so rich, but it's hard to translate that to film without taking people out of the story.  

The thing about it all is, this book was written in 1994.  Before CSI and Copper and Ripper Street and Criminal Minds and the umpteen serial killer shows on TV.  Part of me feels that this book was the source material for many of those other TV shows.

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On ‎01‎/‎24‎/‎2018 at 8:20 PM, Neurochick said:

I'm glad this is the book topic since I'm reading the book again.  I think one of the main problems that the show has, is that the book is told 100% from the POV of Moore, so things happen in the book, that sort of go unexplained; like the exhumation.  In the book Moore comes to the Institute and Kreizler just tells him, "we're going to exhume the bodies now," and we're introduced to the Isaacson brothers.  But I wondered who gave Kreizler the authority to exhume the bodies and what did the parents of the children think?  

Another issue with the book is the numerous historical details that work when you're reading it, but are hard to translate to film.  I liked how in the show, no one even mentioned that they were building the Williamsburg Bridge, let the audience figure out what bridge it's supposed to be.  In the book there was a lengthy description of the bridge.  The book is so rich, but it's hard to translate that to film without taking people out of the story.  

The thing about it all is, this book was written in 1994.  Before CSI and Copper and Ripper Street and Criminal Minds and the umpteen serial killer shows on TV.  Part of me feels that this book was the source material for many of those other TV shows.

I'm holding off on re-reading the book because I'm trying to approach the show as a separate entity, but I did keep going "was it like that in the book" all through the first episode.  I'm glad they chose to do this as a television show rather than trying to cram such a complex book into a movie - it would never have worked that way.

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5 hours ago, savannah31401 said:

Is anyone else having trouble on the Post in the episodes to not write, "Hold out! You will get your answer!'

Yes, I am.  

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It has been a very long time since I read this book ... maybe 1995.   Am I wrong in recalling a significant character missing from the show -- one of the boys from the brothel, an informant, who Kreizler took in and gave a chance at redemption?

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Yes, they've cut that character. I think in the book he's met him by now or at least right after they discover the body at Castle Clinton. I think they are going to make Sally that character.

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10 hours ago, millennium said:

It has been a very long time since I read this book ... maybe 1995.   Am I wrong in recalling a significant character missing from the show -- one of the boys from the brothel, an informant, who Kreizler took in and gave a chance at redemption?

I think in the book he was friends with Moore.  Moore tried to get him to leave his line of work to go live at Kreizler's institute but he declined.  I really liked their relationship and was really sad at his fate.

I just finished reading the book (on tape), so the story is fresh in my mind.  I've been DVR'ing the episodes with the plan to watch them once I finished the book.  I saw bits and pieces of episode one and didn't like the change in Roosevelt's character off the bat.  Being so hostile towards them when in the book he was the one that brought them in.

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15 hours ago, millennium said:

It has been a very long time since I read this book ... maybe 1995.   Am I wrong in recalling a significant character missing from the show -- one of the boys from the brothel, an informant, who Kreizler took in and gave a chance at redemption?

Yes, but that character appeared much later in the book, almost at the end.  I read the book in 1995 and just finished it again.  The scene with John in the brothel was similar to what it was in the book, except in the book it was Stevie who came to rescue him.  

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I just finished another re-read ( I purchased it when it first came out and I have read it so many times that pages have fallen out) and Joseph actually shows up when John goes to the brothel and he is attacked-pretty early in the story. He does show up through out the book.

I didn't realize until someone in the episode 3 thread that they do not say why Mary

killed her father or that she is mute-may have missed the mute explanation.

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3 hours ago, savannah31401 said:

I just finished another re-read ( I purchased it when it first came out and I have read it so many times that pages have fallen out) and Joseph actually shows up when John goes to the brothel and he is attacked-pretty early in the story. He does show up through out the book.

I didn't realize until someone in the episode 3 thread that they do not say why Mary

killed her father or that she is mute-may have missed the mute explanation.

Oh, I didn't realize that boy was Joseph; I thought he was someone else.  

They didn't mention why Mary killed her father, or that she's mute.  They also didn't say that Cyrus had seen his parents murdered by a white mob; or what Stevie did.  The issue with the book is that Moore is the one telling the story, so we find out everything about everybody pretty early on.

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I said it before and I'll say it again, they should have kept the framing device of Moore writing a book and then added in a voiceover/narration. Also skew closer to the book but that's just my preference.

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I think a narration wouldn’t have worked.  One issue I had with the book was that it was so talky, because Moore was telling the story, and everything would only be from Moore’s POV.  Fine in a book, but not so in a show, IMO.

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Spoilers for Angel of Darkness.

Spoiler

I am re-reading Angel of Darkness and I think it is a far better book than The Alienist.  It gives me the chills that it was written 20 years ago, before the book Gone Girl came out (and I wonder if the author of Gone Girl read Angel of Darkness). There is a conversation in that book between two characters that I found so compelling, I dog eared the pages, 20 years ago.  When I read that conversation today, I realized how even today, that conversation is so relevant.

Edited by Neurochick
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On ‎2‎/‎27‎/‎2018 at 8:05 PM, Neurochick said:

Spoilers for Angel of Darkness.

  Reveal hidden contents

I am re-reading Angel of Darkness and I think it is a far better book than The Alienist.  It gives me the chills that it was written 20 years ago, before the book Gone Girl came out (and I wonder if the author of Gone Girl read Angel of Darkness). There is a conversation in that book between two characters that I found so compelling, I dog eared the pages, 20 years ago.  When I read that conversation today, I realized how even today, that conversation is so relevant.

I listened to the book on tape after finishing the Alienist and I know a lot of people like it better than the Alienist.  I actually prefer the Alienist.

I was so frustrated by the crew's attempt to apprehend the "villain" in Angel of Darkness.  Also, John comes off like a total stupid drunken A$$ in this book, whereas I didn't feel that was how he was in The Alienist.

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It appears Mary is mute, but not deaf?  Oftentimes she's spoken to when facing away from someone. 

Is her being mute a result of some trauma?

Ah, just found this: After years of abuse and sexual violation, she chained her father to his bed while he slept and set the house on fire. She has never spoken again as a result of those acts.

I wonder if Laszlo has attempted to have her regain her speech.  (and maybe having dinner is a move in that direction?)

Edited by kay1864
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That's because John is telling the story in The Alienist, while Stevie is telling the story in Angel of Darkness.  I like that book mainly because of the conversation Sara has with Stevie, that society was and maybe still is, invested in women not being complete people, that it's important for women to be identifiable.  Because if a woman can be nurturing and loving, and also be a killer, then maybe people would start to wonder about the women in their lives.  I think that's very true today about many groups.  It's important to identify a person of whatever group, because goodness, if you can't then...ahhhh, we're all lost (sarcasm).

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Just finished reading the book - I read it ages ago and didn't remember anything except that rooftops were important - and am a little annoyed at show portrayal of Kreizler.  Book Kreizler would NEVER have slapped Sara and he's not the overbearing jerk the show is portraying.  I don't feel like the show is giving us the working unit of the group, which was so important in the book IMO - they had their disagreements but Kreizler admits he's wrong and they all work together.  It annoys me when shows add conflict for no reason - the group has enough with figuring out how to work together, how to profile a murderer, following false leads, political and police opposition, etc.

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True, but the book is told from John’s POV.  I think the show is trying to fill in the blanks, like the scene between Kreizler and Mary.  In the book, Kreizler just tells John that he’s in love with Mary, and to me it came out of left field, even John was like WTF?  So to me, I’m not so sure what Kreizler would have done.

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I suppose...the show is making Sara antagonistic when it's not necessary IMO - in the book she takes what she finds out about Kriezler to John and they burn it (I think it was a newspaper).  In the show it comes off as she's trying to provoke him for some reason.  I'm still not sure why she did that (I did miss one episode so maybe there was something) and it bugs me because it's nearly impossible for me to like someone who slaps another person when it's not in self defense, and I want to be able to root for Kriezler.   The show could have had interpersonal conflicts without making it physical.

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On 3/6/2018 at 3:22 PM, kay1864 said:

Ah, just found this: After years of abuse and sexual violation, she chained her father to his bed while he slept and set the house on fire. She has never spoken again as a result of those acts.

In the book Mary has aphasia and Agraphia, the inability to speak or write. She's had these disabilities her whole life; at one point its mentioned that other children teased her throughout her childhood because they believed her to be "simple." 

Her inability to speak or write allowed the abuse from her father to continue. In the book John notes that Mary's father had been raping her since she was 14; she murders him three years later, when he is 17, by chaining him to the bed and setting the house on fire. 

Mary was going to be imprisoned for life for her crime, until she met the doctor, and finds a way to communicate with him that she was being abused. 

While they are out on their date in the book, John reflects that he believes it was Mary's inability to communicate that led her to murder. He notes that while she was horrifically abused, there were other girls who were similarly abused but did not turn to murder. He then reflects that Mary's disabilities probably led her to murder, since they had caused Mary to be teased her entire life, then made it impossible for her to reveal the abuse. This is how John realizes that the killer has some sort of deformity/ disability in the book. (It turns out he has an uncontrollable facial twitch.)

In short, it wasn't being abused by her father that made Mary unable to speak; she had been unable to speak (or write) her entire life. Caleb Carr noted that "I gave Mary the disabilties she had (aphasia as well as agraphia) to symbolize the horrible isolation of children who are subjected to sexual abuse."

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I am reluctant to watch tonight's episode. I get the feeling that this is going to be the one in which Connor breaks into the house, attacks Stevie, and ends up killing Mary Palmer. 

In the book I was somewhat sad when she died; she was an interesting character I wanted to learn more about; and she seemed to make Kreitzler happy. However, aside from the detailed description of the date she went on with John Moore, we actually see very little in the book of Mary firsthand. We are told Mary's backstory; we are told that Kreitzler is protective of her; we are told that Kreitzler has fallen in love with her-- but Mary is not present for any of these scenes. It seems she is presented as important for how she effects other characters, particularly Kreitzler. In the novel, despite clearly being strong, admirable, and beautiful, Mary the human being always seems somewhat obscure and incomplete.

However, here, thanks to the broader point of view provided by TV and the acting skills of Q'orianka Kilcher, Mary has really been fleshed out in the TV version. She is a completely real, believable character, and I'm going to be devastated when she dies-- and not just for Kreitzler's sake, as in the book. 

I think tonight's going to be the night we lose her, since it roughly corresponds with where she gets killed in the novel version-- the basic outlines of which this show has been following, despite some other changes. 

Edited by Hazel55
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2 hours ago, Hazel55 said:

However, here, thanks to the broader point of view provided by TV and the acting skills of Q'orianka Kilcher, Mary has really been fleshed out in the TV version. She is a completely real, believable character, and I'm going to be devastated when she dies-- and not just for Kreitzler's sake, as in the book. 

I think tonight's going to be the night we lose her, since it roughly corresponds with where she gets killed in the novel version-- the basic outlines of which this show has been following, despite some other changes. 

That scene was devastating, but exactly how it happened in the book, only in the book no one was walking around with chloroform; in the book, Stevie got the shit kicked out of him.

Reality police, you won't be happy.

I agree, Mary is a LOT more fleshed out in this series, more so than in the book.  In the book, when she's killed, it really didn't hit me, but in the show, it did.    And I hope Connor meets the same fate in this show that he met in the book.  I'll just say what I thought when it happened, "You fucking rock, Sara" and Connor's a fool for trusting a gangster.

One more thing, I always thought Cyrus was younger in the book because he was a child during the draft riots; I always pictured Nonso Anozie as Cyrus, since Cyrus is described as being "enormous." 

Edited by Neurochick
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One thing I do want to say, and I can say it here because this topic is about the book, but John Moore did not get sexually assaulted at that club.  In the book, John was about to pass out, when Stevie burst in with a pipe with nails attached to it.  In the book, Stevie is a street kid, who came under Kreizler's care because he was in some juvenile prison when he beat the shit out of a guard who tried to sexually assault him.  I don't know why in the show, they left it open that Moore was sexually assaulted, since it didn't happen that way in the book.

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11 minutes ago, Neurochick said:

One thing I do want to say, and I can say it here because this topic is about the book, but John Moore did not get sexually assaulted at that club.  In the book, John was about to pass out, when Stevie burst in with a pipe with nails attached to it.  In the book, Stevie is a street kid, who came under Kreizler's care because he was in some juvenile prison when he beat the shit out of a guard who tried to sexually assault him.  I don't know why in the show, they left it open that Moore was sexually assaulted, since it didn't happen that way in the book.

I think they did it to string us along, like when brothel owner reminded John that he looked different than the last time he saw him. In our minds there is still a mystery out there. 

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Since this topic is about the book and can include spoilers....

In the book, Joseph is killed and his body delivered to their headquarters at 808.  It was never explained how Beechem/Dury figured out where their headquarters were.  They do manage to save another boy.  In this version it looks like it’s the other way around and hopefully Joseph will be saved.

I have a feeling Conner will end up the same way he did in the book... just because.

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I hate the way they've written Sara in this series. I don't know if it's am acting choice or the way the character was written or both,  but they ruined a character I have loved for the last 20 years.

Sara in the book is strong,  smart, resourceful but was also not stoic, humorless and intimidated.  She carried a concealed gun and wasn't afraid to threaten people.  She kidded around with John and would give him a hard time when needed but also cared for him.

There is no way that the Sara of the book would have allowed Kreizler to slap her (which is another thing that pissed me off, the book Kreizler NEVER would have done that).she would have hauled off and decked him.

I don't know if Caleb Carr is a consultant on this show but it's disappointing to see the choices they have made with his characters and has really hurt the show for me.

I really wanted to like this show and do not hate watch it, but find I'm disappointed by choices that were made when the characters that were created were fine all by themselves.

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13 hours ago, callmebetty said:

 

I hate the way they've written Sara in this series. I don't know if it's am acting choice or the way the character was written or both,  but they ruined a character I have loved for the last 20 years.

Sara in the book is strong,  smart, resourceful but was also not stoic, humorless and intimidated.  She carried a concealed gun and wasn't afraid to threaten people.  She kidded around with John and would give him a hard time when needed but also cared for him.

There is no way that the Sara of the book would have allowed Kreizler to slap her (which is another thing that pissed me off, the book Kreizler NEVER would have done that).she would have hauled off and decked him.

 

I’m glad you mentioned this; I too found Book Sara much more confident, authoritative, a commanding presence, etc. Actually, several of the characters suffer when translated from book to show; I prefer the non-jackass version of Kreizler and the street-smart police reporter version of John as well. 

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I too like book Sara better, but then I remember that the book is told from John's POV.  A lot of the things in the show are more or less fillers because we don't see them in the book, like Kreizler walking around drunk in his home.  We don't see that in the book.  If I'm telling my version of things, you won't get the entire truth, because I can only see it my way. 

Someone said that John is different in the second book, that's because the second book is told from Stevie's POV, so he might see John differently than John sees himself.

Edited by Neurochick
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I'm not quite half way through the second book and yes, two different POV narrating but obviously it's Carr's choice to have Stevie's POV of John as a kind of lazy drunk.  It's pretty annoying actually because Sara and Kreizler are portrayed pretty much the same, so I'm not sure why Carr made that choice. 

I also would have liked to see on the show badass John (since it's kind of rare) knocking two guys off the train in the book, when they are back on their way from seeing the Dury brother.

I wonder about changes too - like Sara not having her derringer on the show yet.  My guess is Conner will still get shot by Sara but it will be more of a surprise to the audience, as something she recently picked up after the threat.   In the book though they were all careful not to wander around alone, always doubling up to go home, etc.

My thinking is that Roosevelt is portrayed so blah is because his big personality would take over the show?  In real life, he was not supposed to be so muted. 

The show definitely hasn't focused on rooftops like the books do.  The boys were kidnapped and carried to the rooftops.  Maybe that would have been too hard to film.

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I’m really enjoying the show and I loved the book.  It’s funny because I wasn’t keen on Roosevelt’s portrayal in the book (a little gimicky for me) and I don’t like his portrayal on the show (completely lifeless).  

I’m really hoping that the show isn’t a one and done because I always felt there was so much more in these characters than two books.  I know that two more books are on the way, but hell it’s been over 20 years!

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Now that it's over, I did enjoy the show, obviously they had to make changes but there are things I wish were different. 

I'm sorry they left looser more playful Sarah and John to the end of the lady episode.

I wish they would have shown strong gun toting Sarah more often. 

I wanted Kreizler visiting a previous patient at a prison scene that was in the book.

I wish the killer would have been the balding tall killer described in the book.

There were scenes that were actually physically how I pictured from the book. Bravo. 

I wish they had Kriezler have the gun they had confronting the killer as in the book. Going in defenseless was stupid.

Otherwise.i hope they make the 2nd book. 

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6 hours ago, DkNNy79 said:

I'm glad Joseph survived!  He was not so lucky in the book.

Right, in the book Joseph's body was delivered to their headquarters, I believe; and I thought, "how the heck did he manage that?" since to get to their headquarters, you had to take an elevator.  

Better in the book?  No Moore/Sara romance.

What I liked about the show is that Beechem doesn't have superhuman strength, the way he seemed to have in the book.  Like how he tied up Moore AND Kreizler, like spread eagle or something.  In the book, I thought that would have taken too much time

I always saw John Moore as a "sporting man," so that he was different in the second book wasn't a surprise, especially since his grandmother had died and left him money.

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I almost wish they had killed Joseph on the show, because that made me sit up and take notice when I read the book.  And I'd rather the show took time to have the main characters deal with that than take time to give us Beecham killing another cat.  I didn't see the point of that other than shock value; we already knew he killed at least one cat before.

Besides, Joseph is saved from Beecham and then disappears completely.  It would have been nice if they had thrown in a line about where he went.  At least in the book we know that.

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On 2/7/2018 at 12:58 PM, savannah31401 said:

Is anyone else having trouble on the Post in the episodes to not write, "Hold out! You will get your answer!'

I kept wanting to say, "Well _________ is not like that in book." Mainly because I didn't like most of the changes the show made. The only change I remember liking was not killing little Joseph. 

I was so disappointed with the appearance of Beecham in the show.... only because the entire time I was reading the book, I imagined him to look exactly like "The Swede" from the TV show Hell on Wheels (he was also tall, bald, & crazy). I was vaguely hoping the actor would appear in the show, but lost hope when glimpses of Beecham proved otherwise. 

On 3/19/2018 at 10:32 PM, callmebetty said:

I hate the way they've written Sara in this series. I don't know if it's am acting choice or the way the character was written or both,  but they ruined a character I have loved for the last 20 years.

Sara in the book is strong,  smart, resourceful but was also not stoic, humorless and intimidated.  She carried a concealed gun and wasn't afraid to threaten people.  She kidded around with John and would give him a hard time when needed but also cared for him.

There is no way that the Sara of the book would have allowed Kreizler to slap her (which is another thing that pissed me off, the book Kreizler NEVER would have done that).she would have hauled off and decked him.

I also could not stand "Show Sara" & Dakota Fanning's robotic portrayal of her did not help... and it made it even worse that they gave Sara a bigger role in the show. 

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11 minutes ago, AdebisiLives said:

I was so disappointed with the appearance of Beecham in the show.... only because the entire time I was reading the book, I imagined him to look exactly like "The Swede" from the TV show Hell on Wheels (he was also tall, bald, & crazy). I was vaguely hoping the actor would appear in the show, but lost hope when glimpses of Beecham proved otherwise.  

That would have been an amazing choice. I was not a fan of the show changes at all. What was the point of Marcus's romance? They barely touched on it and then suddenly they'd been broken up and he was avoiding her? I have way more issues with the show. That was just one example.

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I thought in the end the show did a few things right and many things wrong. Sara was practically an automoton, and I have no idea if that's what the director instructed her to do or it was her own decision. She would make a perfect Vulcan for the next Star Trek movie. Speaking of directing, it drove me crazy how often there was a camera stuck right in an actor's face and they looked straight at it. I think they were trying for intimacy, that the viewing audience would feel the characters were speaking to them directly, but it was terrible. I had forgotten Joseph was killed. Was the dalliance by the detective with the girl from the Socialist meeting in the book? Because that brought absolutely nothing to the story and was totally unnecessary. And the Croton reservoir. It was a presence in the book and got mentioned numerous times before the climax. Here it just got thrown in at the end with no groundwork.

I just happened to watch Professor Marston and the Wonder Women on Monday only a few hours before this. Luke Evans played the title character and it was like, 99% the same as he played John. Which leads me to believe he is isn't very versatile as an actor.

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42 minutes ago, Vermicious Knid said:

Was the dalliance by the detective with the girl from the Socialist meeting in the book?

No the girl didn't exist at all in the book. It was a random thing thrown in to give the Isaacsons something to do and they still half-assed it.

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