Hannibal may be the most ‘known’ villain in literature; Conan Doyle’s Moriaty did not eat people, so while certainly arguably as known, he causes much less rippled skin and worms himself less frequently into one's dreams post viewing/reading.
So, taking Thomas Harris’ infamous character and creating a television version could have been a grape juice infused bourguignon. It isn’t – the work is brilliant. Due in no small part to the show’s go-for-it storylines and casting of remarkably talented acting powerhouses. Not the usual network fare. Perhaps in an attempt to give cable networks and HBO, for example, a run for the money; networks are getting smart lest they wish to see the audience tune out completely. And much like the new Sherlocks, liberties are taken to bring the character into today's timeline.
Story goes…Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is a somewhat neurotic (<- big) teacher for the FBI. His superior, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne), wants him out of a stuffy classroom and “in the field”, because of Will’s amazing ability to empathize with a killer’s design – as it’s called; he puts himself into their skin.
And no one likes frolicking around in another’s skin more than the notorious – only here, quite literally – Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Dr. Hannibal Lecter is well ‘known” thanks to the books and the films. But we, the audience, are left to imagine his earlier, often referred to, working years.
Not any longer.
This show is the his lost years. Will is referred to him, and Dr. Lecter enjoys, very much, being in with FBI going ons.
The episodes intertwine and brilliantly use imagery, gore, writing, music , food design, and sets aside wonderful acting to create movie-like experiences in a TV series. In fact the production values are so grand they are on par with any film. For fans of the Hannibal series of novels, you’ll love the way the production team has made food an art, and itself a character, for Dr. Lecter. The dishes he serves up (you, the audience know its human) are gourmet in presentation and delivery; you’ll skeeve as the diners enjoy the de jour creation.
Careful to respect the characters, casting had to be great. It is. As Will, John Dancy is a combo of nuts and complexity. He rounds his Will by adding subtle and not-so-subtle emotional brewings. On the other side is Mads Mikkelson. You may have seen him in a few indie films (mostly foreign language). He is prim and proper and may scare the bejesus out of you. Dressed in the finest of all, underneath the façade is an evil behemoth…and Jack, here Lawrence Fishburne, is volatile, self centered and compartmentalized. The usual superbness Larry brings to any performance.
Other characters make their entrances too. For those not familiar with the books, fear not, they are ‘just’ doctors and agents. For those familiar, there are no disappointments – except when the first season comes to its end!
DVD extras here are wonderful. They touch on food prep and why, music, commentary - worthy of a film class, why Hannibal for TV, behind the scenes and a gag reel! Enjoy.
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