This is my design.”
I didn’t plan on watching this show. At least, not over the air. I happened to have the television on, when the little animated countdown on the bottom of the screen informed me that Hannibal would be premiering in X amount of time. Well, why not? So what if my inclination to watch the show was initially, “Ehhhhhh…”
Hannibal is clearly a prequel reboot, along the lines of X-Men: First Class where they recast the actors as younger versions of the characters you already know, except they did not cast actors in the roles they have already established in the existing movies, just to fuck things up. Was that clear? Because it wasn’t to me. Let me just say this then: If it was a “reboot” what were Hugh Jackson and Rebecca Romijn doing in there?
Okay, back to Hannibal, or should it have been called Graham? Lol j/k, nobody wants to watch a show called Graham, unless it is completely about graham crackers. And of course, I mean the sweetened graham crackers as we know them today, and not the dirt crumbles that Sylvester Graham created in order to curb one’s sex drive. But the show, like the movies Red Dragon and Manhunter, do not largely focus on Hannibal. At least, for now. Actually, it makes quite a bit of sense because Hannibal has had his prequel, but Will Graham has always remained somewhat enigmatic. What exactly made him such a great criminal profiler? What were the circumstances that led to Hannibal and Graham working together? How did they interact with each other before Hannibal tried to kill him?
Graham clearly states that, on the “spectrum,” he is closer to those with Asperger’s and autistics (rather than narcissists and sociopaths), which allows him too much empathy for everybody, including killers. He is clearly tortured by the thoughts he lets into his mind in order to “know” what the criminals are thinking. This is an interesting explanation and deviation, because the Wills in the movies were just kinda awesome at what they did because they were awesome, and they did not seemed too burdened by it–except the fact that that talent inadvertently led to working with Hannibal Lecter, who later attempted to kill Will Graham, the ultimate source of Will’s trauma. TV Will Graham is already all shook and messed up and no one even tried to disembowel him yet! I’d hate (love) to see how he’d act after that.
(I haven’t seen either movies in years, though, so I might be remembering wrong. I’ll try to watch Red Dragon again [because I own it, not because I have some crippling aversion to Manhunter], but I really don’t remember any indication or implication that movie Will Graham had any sort of developmental or personality disorder. Oh, and the books… still haven’t gotten around to that, yet.)
Graham’s TV characterization brings a certain nuance that is absent in the films. Yeah, he’s pretty awesome at what he does, but he doesn’t particularly like it. The movies, perhaps due to time, don’t really explore the character of Graham very much beyond his profiling skillz, the partnership he once had with Hannibal, and his family life. So, it’s a pretty refreshing take on it that I welcome. This Will Graham that the writers and Hugh Dancy worked together to create is probably the best version of Will Graham yet (aside from a slight slip of ye olde English accent). And that is saying something because I love Edward Norton and if you speak ill will of him, I will cut you like a box.
Mads Mikkelsen is intriguing to watch, to say the least. He definitely has that creepy look, where wordless scenes of him speak so much. I don’t know if he’s “Hannibal,” although maybe it’s because he needs to subdue himself, due to, you know, the cannibalism. Whereas when everyone knows he eats people, he can be like, “FUCK THIS SHIT,” and prance and dance around without abandon or subtlety. Thinking about it, Anthony Hopkins’ performance of Hannibal is rather cartoony when compared to Mikkelsen’s version, but that’s only when comparing the two with each other. (Again, I’ll try to watch the movies again since I haven’t seen them in years, but that is the feeling that I remember.) Brian Cox didn’t really leave an impression with me, but his time in the movie was rather limited and when I watched Manhunter, I had already seen Anthony Hopkins play Hannibal Lecter three times in three movies. Those odds are rough, buddy.
Rounding out the main men is Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford, and it’s safe to say that it’s all his fault. The only reason anyone ever did any cases is because Jack Crawford told them to. So he is not a particularly memorable character otherwise, so I guess Fishburne will have to make do with what he’s given, which is, not much? The only outstanding thing of this character, in any version of this franchise, is scaring a man about to take his pants off:
What really caught my eye was the visually-arresting imagery, and I don’t simply mean the blood and gore to claim your attention (although it is a part of it). It has a really cinematic feel and is really dynamic, but not to the point of annoyance. I don’t know how to explain it exactly, but not only is the story interesting to pay attention to, but the visuals as well.
What really sucked is the main female character, Dr. Alana Bloom, who is a total snoozefest, even though she’s obviously Will Graham’s love interest. (The show was not really subtle on that front. I mean, they even showed them swallowing each other’s tongues in the preview for chrissakes.) The only times we see her is when she’s talking about poor widdle Will. She’s completely bland, and, I’m assuming, completely expendable. After all, doesn’t Will Graham’s wife end up being someone named Molly? In addition, the other main female character we see, Beverly Katz, a member of Crawford’s Behavioral Science team, seems to be channeling Angela from Bones way too hard, and made me roll my eyes twice. TWICE! And all the victims (in two cases) have been women thus far. Anyway, hopefully because this is the pilot, they couldn’t afford too much time on female certain characters. After all, Freddie Lounds (who was played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Red Dragon), another female character, has yet to appear and Gillian Anderson’s upcoming appearance as Hannibal’s psychiatrist certainly seems interesting.
A fairly compelling start to what I think could be a good series. Bryan Fuller, who helmed Pushing Daisies and was part of the only good season of Heroes is back here so I am hopeful. I’d love to see them expand on the relationship between Graham and Lecter, and explore the tricky gray areas in this show. Apparently, they want to go full-on TV adaptation with the Hannibal story, e.g., adapting Red Dragon for season 4, and including Clarice Starling in what I’m assuming would be the TV version of The Silence of the Lambs. I would be kind of hesistant at waiting to adapt RD for that long, simply because the build up might get boring and redundant. For example:
Repeat ad nauseam.
Cases and character development seem to bleed into other episodes, so it appears to be more of a serialized show than an episodic one, which is a plus. So since there are no “real” mysteries, overarching or on a weekly basis (besides the murderers of the week who so far seem to be fairly forgettable, one-note characters), recapping anything substantial during this show would be even more BOR-ring than usual. But more than that, with such a well-known franchise, it seems sort of redundant. Like, really redundant. I suck at talking about ongoing character development so I’ll probably come by weekly (srsly?? WEEKLY??) to gif and cap the nice-looking show and Hannibal’s fashion choices. :3
In conclusion, the only reason the Internet was invented: kitty!