I am the first person to complain about the distressing amount of remakes and sequels plaguing movies and television today. (I’m pretty sure my friends are sick of hearing about it, honestly.) When NBC announced a series adaptation of Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon featuring his iconic cannibal psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter, I scoffed. But recently, I found out what I’ve been missing by writing off “Hannibal” as yet another remake. Critics have given the series some serious praise, not surprising when you consider that the show’s creator/producer is none other than Bryan Fuller, the über-creative mind behind tragically short-lived (but wonderful) shows like HBO’s “Dead Like Me” and ABC’s “Pushing Daisies”.
A couple of weeks ago I couldn’t sleep, and, prompted by an OnDemand ad, I decided to check out the first episode of “Hannibal”. I’m not exaggerating when I say I was hooked in the first five minutes. The series is ostensibly a crime procedural, but that description doesn’t nearly do it justice, because it is intensely multi-layered in a way that no other crime procedural has been. In addition to being visually gorgeous, “Hannibal” is brilliantly written and has much more to do with the psychological aspect of violent crime than the forensic, something I haven’t seen done really well yet. If you’ve read Harris’s books, the characters are familiar, but Fuller has given each of them a weight and depth that even the movies seemed to have missed out on.
If you were a fan of Fuller’s other series, you already know about his amazing attention to detail and visually arresting set and costume choices. All of those elements are present in “Hannibal”, as well as his notoriously dark sense of humor. The casting is excellent and the world is populated by many of Fuller’s favorite actors, including Caroline Dhavernas (“Wonderfalls”), Raul Esparza (“Pushing Daisies”), Ellen Greene (“Pushing Daisies”), and Ellen Muth (“Dead Like Me”). Other guest stars include Gillian Anderson, Molly Shannon, Eddie Izzard, and Lance Henriksen. Hugh Dancy (Adam) plays Special Agent Will Graham and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix) is FBI Director Jack Crawford, while Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen portrays the titular character.
Like many of Fuller’s other series, “Hannibal” is in danger of being cancelled. NBC execs are waiting to decide the show’s fate until the results of next week’s special “limited interruption” episode’s viewership are in, so its renewal hinges on repeated viewings through OnDemand, Hulu+, and Amazon Instant Video, as well as a large turnout for the regular Thursday night airing.
If you find yourself with nothing to watch, check out the pilot episode, “Apértif” (available for free on Amazon Instant Video). If it’s to your taste (pun intended), watch the rest of the series and tune in for “Fromage” on Thursday (10:15 Eastern). Help us save an awesome show – there aren’t many left!