I finished watching Manhunt: Unabomber a week or so after finishing The Keepers. I was tempted to compare and contrast the two, but I won’t. It’s like comparing apples and grapes.
I generally dislike shows that are scripted dramas of real events. Mostly because there are so many bad ones out there. But starting a few years ago with Fargo (the series) that began to change. When the OJ miniseries came out, it was exceptional. Manhunt: Unabomber belongs in that class of show – with high production qualities, good acting, and a great script.
This series is the story of Jim Fitzgerald of the FBI who creates a new form of criminal investigation called forensic linguistics which ultimately leads to the Unabomber’s (Ted Kaczynski) arrest. I like the fact that the focus was less on the criminal and the horrific crimes and more on the investigation that brought this bastard to justice.
Kaczynski is the perfect foil for the mind of Fitzgerald in this series. Yes, we all know that he ends up in jail, but there is a genius there, a brilliance that requires an equal in the form of the FBI agent.
Fitz (as he is called) sacrifices a lot to catch his prey – his marriage, his family, friends, colleagues, etc. In the end, despite the victory, you almost feel that is hollow for the character. Others steal his limelight and while we see justice prevail, the cost cuts like shrapnel from one of the killer’s devices. The struggles that Fitz goes through against the rigid bureaucracy of the FBI rings true to me to this day…trust me.
The writing is brilliant as is the casting. What I like the most is the incredible attention to details. Ted’s cabin is almost a character all by itself, silent, yet a part of his own twisted personality.
The producers were outstanding. They did not turn this into the gore-fest that it could have been, but gave it purpose and focus. I hope other producers that do recreations look to this as one of those gold-standards…right up there with Fargo.
If you didn’t watch this series, get it via On-Demand or from your provider. It is chilling, breathtaking, and educational.