"The Fall" (Netflix). After several years of playing peekaboo with her audience, Gillian Anderson, who first won your heart and mind as Agent Dana Scully on "The X-Files," is back with a vengeance (in a nice way). This year saw her return to American television (the homegrown sort) in a recurring role on NBC's "Hannibal"; next year will find her as a regular in the same network's midseason political thriller "Crisis." At present she may be found starring in this five-episode BBC series (miniseries? — you decide), available here only through Netflix. (Anderson, who grew up partly in England and lives there now, became for all intents a British actress post "X-Files.") It finds her as a London police detective dispatched to Belfast to unstick a high-profile murder case, which soon enough to not call it a spoiler and despite the objections of her traditionally objecting colleagues, she identifies as the work of a serial killer (Jamie Dornan, known here as the Huntsman in the ABC series "Once Upon a Time" — and again, not a spoiler).
The series spends as much time with the killer as with the detective, and though it draws a lot of parallels between them (there is much visually resonant intercutting), it doesn't romanticize the villain or reflexively give the heroine feet of clay. If it's sometimes too coincidental to be true, I suppose there is no crime drama without a little too much coincidence. I could go my whole life without watching another serial killer story, but I can see why people make them — the cat-and-mouse of it, the stop-him-before-he-kills-again. The case is gripping, but it's also to some extent irrelevant to the show's main attraction, which is Anderson herself: smart, self-possessed, flinty and forceful — yet not unfeeling. As the feather-ruffling new woman in town and in authority, she recalls not only Helen Mirren in "Prime Suspect" — Allan Cubitt, who wrote "The Fall," also wrote the teleplay for "Prime Suspect 2" — but also Elisabeth Moss in the recent "Top of the Lake." She is not, however, damaged, and while her personal life becomes an issue (a one-night stand has ramifications on the plot), she remains beautifully unconflicted. A second season has been commissioned; I will just be happy to see Anderson reunited with pathologist Archie Panjabi (Kalinda on "The Good Wife") and right hand Niamh McGrady.