When a co-worker first told me I needed to watch NBC’s “Hannibal,” I shrugged it off. As a stubborn fan of the character and a hater of all things associated with remake culture, I had very little interest in watching NBC bastardize a great horror property. I could not have been more wrong.
Series creator Bryan Fuller has somehow managed to pull off the unthinkable by making a television series centered around Hannibal Lecter that is just as good, if not better, than the films.
Despite the fact that NBC just devastated fans by cancelling the show after its third season, the show is still well worth watching and hopefully will be picked up by another network soon (are you listening, Netflix?!).
I have yet to read Thomas Harris’ novels in which the character of Hannibal originates, but I have seen all of the feature films — even the abysmal “Hannibal Rising” — and can say that viewers have yet to see Hannibal like this before. Week after week I am amazed by what the series gets away with; it airs in primetime on NBC yet features the most horrifically grotesque images I’ve ever seen on TV, including HBO.
“Hannibal” has a distinct visual style that sets it apart from literally any other show on network television. The cinematography of Hannibal is unparalleled — between the gorgeous shot compositions, the use of slow motion and the visual and aural horror associated with Will’s ‘dream’ sequences, there is always something gorgeous to behold.
Initially the show may appear to be nothing more than another boring police procedural, but it’s anything but. The show begins in the “Red Dragon”-phase, before Hannibal has been caught for his crimes. Rather than helping solving crimes from behind bars like in “Silence of The Lambs”, Hannibal, played expertly by Mads Mikkelsen, has the privilege of actually visiting the crime scenes and getting a hands-on approach to investigating.
Hannibal, a notable psychiatrist, is brought in by FBI to aid special investigator Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy in the best role of his career) who has the unique ability to ‘get in the minds’ of the killer through his victims. Will has the ability to essentially replay each week’s murder in his head via beautifully shot and intensely stylised visual sequences and figure out how the victim was killed.
Little do the authorities know that the very man helping them solve the crimes actually committed them in the first place. The best part about the show is that the focus is constantly shifting — just when you’re comfortable with the routine, the series throws you a curveball.
The show would be nothing without its excellent cast. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy are both superb in their leading roles, and the supporting cast, which includes the likes of Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson and Cynthia Nixon are all equally wonderful. The performances really elevate the material, and when combined with the absolutely insane visuals and special effects, Hannibal truly shines.
In addition to all of this, the incredibly creepy sound design is worth noting — never has a show made me cringe or jump with only sound. I have yet to meet an ardent horror fan who hasn’t been completely blown away by the show.
If being scared isn’t your cup of tea, there are plenty of other things to salivate over, including the food. While the cuisine may consist of people, it looks just as delicious as anything you’ll see on the Food Network and is presented in such a way that makes it elegant and tasteful. For a show that is often so horrific, it is so damned beautiful!
A quick Google search will bring about dozens of articles echoing my beliefs, as countless bloggers have taken to the web to spread their love for the series in an attempt to keep it on the air. Hannibal is one of those critically acclaimed shows that is constantly teetering on the verge of cancellation due to low viewership despite the fact that is has such an aggressive online following. Hannibal fans may be few, but they are proud, and like me, they’re doing all they can to keep the show alive. Fuller has made his long-term plans for the series public, revealing that he crafted it as a seven-season arc.
In order to see his vision fully realised, the show needs more loyal viewers. Luckily, after a steady increase in viewership this past season, it was renewed for a third season, and Hannibal fans everywhere exhaled a sigh of relief.
After watching the first few episodes of the first season (which is available for free in its entirety on Amazon Instant Video for Prime members), you won’t need any further convincing. Take a bite and see why televised horror doesn’t have to be as drab as “The Walking Dead.”
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