*****This review will contain minor spoilers*****
“Hannibal” is a series created by Bryan Fuller that ran from 2013 to 2015. The show is based off of the film series “Red Dragon,” as well as the Ridley Scott directed sequel to “The Silence of the Lambs” “Hannibal.” The show is the perfect mesh of “Red Dragon” and “Hannibal” and the reason that “Lambs” was omitted completely is due to rights issues over the property. Nevertheless, “Hannibal” the series explores the early relationship between psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter and his patient, an FBI profiler named Will Graham who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers. The show stars Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Lawrence Fishburne and Caroline Dhavernas.
“Hannibal” was a show that I had a hard time getting into for this very simple reason. I love the film series and I loved Anthony Hopkins in the role. He is and will always be the definitive Hannibal, at least to me. So when the show first came out back in 2013, I had a lot of reservations going in. I made it through about 3 episodes and gave up. The story felt too prime time, cliched and like a run-of the mill cop genre show so I gave up. It wasn’t the “Hannibal” series that I grew up with. However, over the last few years, I have heard multiple people comment on how brilliant the show was and how extraordinary the violence was for a prime time network. So I decided to give the show another shot, and I am so glad that I did. This time around, I really dug it. The characters are extremely rounded, dynamic and exceptionally interesting. I loved all of the different artful murders and the body count; it truly felt like poetry coming alive on-screen. Season 1, especially felt a lot like “True Detective” on HBO, but more violent. Will’s pendulum flashbacks that he has when viewing a crime scene is really neat and I love the visuals that are used to help tell the story.
The show itself follows most of the same beats that we saw from “Red Dragon” and “Hannibal” but there are a lot of differences that take place in the show. For instance, Freddie Lounds is played by a woman in the show, whereas in the film the character was played by a man, Philip Seymour Hoffman to be exact. There are also a lot of differences with Dr. Chilton in the show that were not in the films. Dr. Chilton is in the show but his relationship and nemesis factor is replaced by Dr. Alana Bloom played wonderfully by Caroline Dhavernas. Also the show, in its three seasons is a mesh of the films “Hannibal Rising,” “Red Dragon” and “Hannibal” skipping “Silence of the Lambs.” We see Dr. Lecter posing as Dr. Fell in Florence and we see his initial capture by the FBI, before the last season divulges into the “Red Dragon” story line. The story, overall is very slow and drawn out but it feels like visual poetry unveiling itself in all its glory.
The actors all involved with this show are incredible. Hugh Dancy as Will Graham was magnificent. He felt so real and humanly and I loved his character arch in this series. Mads Mikkelsen was another wonderful standout here as Hannibal Lecter. Sure, he’s no Anthony Hopkins but he works perfectly for this show. My only complaint with this version of the Hannibal character was that he was far from scary. While Hopkins played Hannibal as a sinister type, Mikkelsen plays a suave type. Both do horrific things, but Mikkelson was far from scary. But on this show he was fantastic and his relationship between Will Graham was really cool to see. Lawrence Fisburne was great as the FBI director Jack Crawford and Caroline Dhavernas was really good playing Alana Bloom. There were also a lot of great side characters, from Gillian Anderson to Michael Pitt. “Hannibal” truly is a show to feast on.
Speaking of fine dining, what blows my mind is the violence on this show. I think this is the most violent show that I’ve ever seen on TV, more so than “Game of Thrones.” The things they did on this show were mind blowing and I cannot fathom how they were able to do some of the things they did on NBC prime time. There are buckets, and gallons of blood, chopped limbs, cannibalism, biting off tongues and brain eating and for the most part its all shown in graphic detail. The violence isn’t here just to be violent. It’s here to help tell the story and boy this is truly a violent show. Honestly, if you are a hardcore horror fan, then this is the show for you because this is the best horror show that I’ve ever seen.
Unfortunately for “Hannibal” fans, the show was canceled and the series ends on a very ambiguous ending. I’m curious to see if the show gets picked up down the line and would love to see them tackle “Silence of the Lambs” if they get the rights. “Hannibal” is one of the best shows that I have seen in recent years. It has humor, action, horror, violence and suspense. It’s “True Detective” amped up to 11. The show digresses from the source material, but also stays true to the books and characters, giving us an amazing television series that stands against the films. “Hannibal” is a well cooked dish, served with some fava beans and a nice chianti. Slurp, slurp,slurp, slurp…