With the recent influx oftelevision shows both planned and airing, most people weren’t surprised when the beloved Hannibal Lector character was picked up for a television series. And some were wary about NBC picking up the show, given the character’s violent nature.
I will quickly put all fears to rest and say confidently that Hannibal gets it right. Ever since American Horror Story sparked the public’s interest in serialized horror a few shows have been in the works. Most notably is , which is actually quite similar to Hannibal, for the simple fact that they both re-imagine an established character.
Unlike AHS and Bates Motel, however, Hannibal is a more focused, dormant kind of monster. The series introduces us to the key players from the Lector mythology, mainly focusing on Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and of course Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).
The first thing that is so striking about the series is the excellent casting choices. Hugh Dancy does a great job playing the neurotic Graham, he twitches and constantly shifts his eyes around the room. This is in perfect contrast to Mads Mikkelsen’s unnerving performance as Lecter. Mikkelsen really impresses because he has already given the Lecter character his own touch. He is not just a carbon-copy of Anthony Hopkins’ Version. Instead, he is a thoughtful, eloquent gentlemen with only a twinge of evil at this point.
As far as the overall plot of the pilot and, by extension, the arc of the series, I don’t want to give a lot away. It is interesting to note that Hannibal is only going to have a 13 episode season. Common for cable television, but uncommon when it comes to network channels. I also must commend NBC for allowing the amount of violence in the series. This may turn off some of the more squeamish in the audience, but it will be quite a relief to fans of the series.
The other reason that this show succeeds where shows like AHS and Bates Motel fail is patience. American Horror Story in particular always feels a need to do jump scares, these are fine once in a while but should be used sparingly. Hannibal also doesn’t try to bring in too many characters in it’s pilot. Aside from Hannibal and Graham, the only other major characters are Dr. Alana Bloom (Charoline Dhavernas) and Dr. Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne). Both of these characters offer interesting plot elements but the focus is truly on Graham and Lecter as it should be.
The only thing that didn’t really work for me in the pilot was Graham’s constant “reconstructions.” They are sort of like dream sequences in which he replays a crime scene in his head. It wouldn’t have bothered me as much if they didn’t have so many of them in a single episode. Hopefully it was just to establish Grahams character’s gift and won’t be used too heavily in future episodes.
The Verdict: [rating:5]
Of all of the recent horror television shows, Hannibal easily has the strongest pilot episode. I was hooked 10 minutes in and now I am patiently waiting until next Thursday night. Here’s hoping for an excellent first season!