I scoffed when I initially heard that NBC was making a Hannibal Lecter TV series. “Geez, they’re really running out of ideas over there, aren’t they?” But I was intrigued by the show when I heard that Bryan Fuller was involved. If you’re not familiar with Fuller, he wrote for the show Heroes when people actually liked it (the show’s first season) and created Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies. The man knows how to make a television show.
I was still hesitant until I saw some reviews come in online about the show. I decided to give it a shot, and am so glad that I did. Hannibal is the most beautiful network show that I have ever seen. The visuals are gorgeously grotesque. Hannibal exists in this almost dreamlike world, where serial killers are artists. Victims are made into angels, instruments, and gourmet meals. Fuller films something that should be horrific and disgusting and makes it enchanting. However, it is still terrifying and disturbing.
A large part of that comes through with the casting, which is stellar. Hugh Dancy plays the main protagonist, Will Graham, and walks through the series in constant need of a hug. Graham’s ability to connect with serial killers and replay their murders in his head is sometimes mocked, but the sequences themselves are very well done. Dancy gives Graham this unhinged look that makes you believe that, even though he’s the show’s main character, he could easily be committing these heinous acts himself. Lawrence Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas are very good as Graham’s primary supporting cast, but we all know you really want to hear about the title character, Hannibal Lecter.
Oh is Lecter spectacular! Mads Mikkelsen makes Anthony Hopkins’ signature character creepier than ever. His accent and demeanor give him a sense of menace at all times. He snaps from stone-faced psychiatrist into the famous cannibal at a moment’s notice. Fuller thinks of Hannibal as the devil, as he states in this interview with Entertainment Weekly:
“I believe that Hannibal Lecter is as close as you can come to the devil, to Satan. He’s the fallen angel. His motives are not banal reasons, like childhood abuse or junkie parents. It’s in his genes. He finds life is most beautiful on the threshold to death, and that is something that is much closer to the fallen angel than it is to a psychopath. He’s much more than a psychopath, and there is a fascination for us.”
Mikkelsen and Dancy play off of each other quite well and the Lecter-Graham relationship is one of the show’s highlights. The way the relationship plays out in Hannibal’s first season is masterful, and should be a sight to behold under the shifted circumstances of the show’s second season.
It’s also worth mentioning that Hannibal has featured some brilliant guest stars, between Lance Henriksen, Eddie Izzard, Gina Torres, and (my personal favorite of the bunch, Gillian Anderson (who has aged very well, like a fine wine). Oh, and Scott Thompson is part of the supporting cast. Yes, that Scott Thompson from The Kids in the Hall. No, he is not playing Buddy Cole.
If there is a drawback to Hannibal, it’s that it can be tough to watch. There is so much to absorb, and a single episode can leave you feeling drained. Will Graham is put through the ringer. The gore is beautiful, yet difficult. It’s a challenging show, and admittedly not for everyone. It’s a wonder that NBC airs it, and kudos to them for taking a chance. Television needs more shows that take as much care and thought as Hannibal.
Hannibal’s second season premieres Friday, February 28th at 10pm EST on NBC