Sunday, April 13, 2014
Hannibal is one of my very favorite TV shows on right now, next to RuPaul's Drag Race and Game of Thrones. Unfortunately, it's the only one of the shows I enjoy watching that is in danger of being cancelled. It's one of the most simultaneously beautiful and horrific shows I've ever scene. The attention to detail, cinematography, acting, and plot are at a level I didn't think possible for a network TV show.
Hannibal Lecter is an iconic movie villain, originating (in a visual medium) in the film The Silence of the Lambs where his intense presence and penchant for human flesh and manipulation made him stand out despite his time on screen only being 16 minutes. The show Hannibal explores the time when no one was aware he was a cannibal killer and he worked closely with the FBI, feeding them people without their knowledge and manipulating the investigations to his satisfaction. Mads Mikkelsen plays Hannibal and makes the character his own. Where Anthony Hopkins is overtly creepy and aggressively makes people uncomfortable, Mikkelsen is very reserved, stoic, and calculating with an undercurrent of malice. The manipulative aspect is definitely present, just much more subtle to suit his current needs. He can change that peaceful exterior in a second and savagely attack his victims. The cultured side of him that enjoys classical music, cooking gourmet meals, and creating art is explored more since it's hard to do so in a jail cell. His modus operandi is to kill people who are rude or those to close to figuring out his true nature. His kills are very artistic and are often ironic. For example, a man guilty of paving over an endangered owls habitat is infused in a tree with his organs replaced by poisonous flowers with a nest on his head. A truly free Hannibal is something we've never seen before and it's been a wonderful way to further explore the character.
The other characters have been changed and portrayed differently than expected based on the books and movies. Will Graham is much more messed up than previously portrayed. He has the ability to empathize with serial killers and see from their mindset when he analyzes crime scenes. This involves visualizing himself committing the murders to understand the killers. Unfortunately, he's not a sociopath and his mental and emotional health suffers because of it, but he finds it worth it to save lives. Freddy Lounds is cast as a woman and it transforms the character. She is still the obtrusive, rude, and unapologetic tabloid reporter, but her drive to not let anything get in her way and her sly intelligence makes her slightly endearing. I love to hate her because of her horrible smugness and how she has to be loudest in the room. Frederick Chilton has the most shocking change in the show. In the first season and the movies, he is horrible: often wrong about things, but unable to see beyond his gigantic ego to see or admit it and primarily out to make himself look good. In the second season, he transforms into a snarky and sassy person. He figures out Hannibal's secret and makes the most hilarious one liners and observations. He's also been accused of Hannibal's crimes and he may be annoying, but he doesn't deserve to rot in jail or be executed for something he didn't even do. Even though his ego is still huge, they've made Chilton someone I don't want to die. Other characters are changed: Jack Crawford is played by Laurence Fishburne and Alan Bloom is now Alana Bloom. The show nonchalantly racebends and genderbends the cast to create a much more diverse array of people without stereotypically portraying them or marginalizing them.
I love watching the show, knowing how it's supposed to end up (if the writers choose to follow the books or films) and wondering how it's supposed to get there. I have no idea how Hannibal will be caught because he seems to weasel and manipulate everything perfectly. Every episode has twists and turns that are quite shocking. Some suspension of disbelief has to be employed, but the show is so well written, acted, and put together that it's quite easy to believe that you can't walk two feet without running into a serial killer or that Hannibal has infinite amounts of time to murder people, make elaborate tableaux with their bodies, cook, hold dinner parties, work with the FBI, write music for the harpsichord, and still have time to do his real job as a psychiatrist. This is really the only complaint I have about the show and it doesn't even bother me.
Hannibal is a wonderful show with dynamic characters, beautiful yet disturbing visuals, and twisty plot. I highly recommend this show and I would really love it if it escaped the Bryan Fuller 2 season curse. If it sounds even remotely interesting, please give it a watch on Hulu or Amazon, or NBC.com.