Note: I apologize to any regular readers (if I have those, please comment and let me know!) who were reading my episode-specific reviews and wondered what happened. My real-life job has been taking it's toll on me, but now that I've temporarily rejoined the ranks of the unemployed, I have much more time for blog posts! Instead of covering the last few episodes in separate posts, I figured I'd condense them into this general overview of the first season.
If you would have told me that an NBC show about Hannibal Lecter would be one of the best interpretations of the character and his universe since Thomas Harris' original novels, I can guarantee my reaction would have been nothing short of utter disbelief. I am always thrilled when my preconceived notions get dashed on the rocks however, and this is one of those moments. Hannibal is a fresh and jarringly unique perspective on a tired franchise that was in danger of becoming woefully antiquated.
It's kind of astonishing how many facets of Hannibal are superbly executed. The most talked about has to be the hallucinatory component of the visuals. This decision alone helps set the show apart from previous interpretations of the tale, and gives viewers an immediate hook, even if they are simply channel surfing. Seeing a person with their head on fire or a midnight black elk-man is certainly a reason to stop and check out what's going on. But, the visuals aren't gimmicks. They help shape the narrative and relationship to our main character, Will Graham, and his particular perspective of the world. I'm sure it will be the most memorable aspect of the show once it's gone off the airwaves.
But, there's plenty more worth praising. Specifically, the casting is stellar across the board. The two leads (Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen) are eerily captivating, giving us two very opposed looks into the minds of monsters. There is a calm rapport between the two that fits well with the cold and almost medical tone that looms over the entire series. It's very easy to watch these two characters sit and talk for forty-five minutes. The supporting cast are all top notch, especially a steely and stern Laurence Fishburne. This is the kind of "crime scene investigation" show a man of his talent deserves to be on.
Possibly my favorite element of the show is the pacing. There is a methodical and deliberate flow felt throughout the entire series, even in the one-off "killer of the week" episodes. There's definitely a sense that showrunner Bryan Fuller knows the story he wants to tell and isn't worried about taking time to build that story from the ground up. It's the kind of pacing you'd expect from an AMC or HBO show, but it's on NBC! That still blows my mind.Let's hope they don't mishandle this show like most of their other decent programming. *cough*Community*cough*
If the show does end up spanning the entirety of the Hannibal Lecter mythos (as showrunner Bryan Fuller has indicated he would like), I am beyond excited. This series has shown the potential to be the most engaging portrayal of the world's most famous cannibal ever attempted. It's smart, slick and well aware of its horror roots. There's no winking into the camera or needless fanservice going on. Everything feels purposefully constructed and well thought out. Break out the chianti and celebrate, because this a show worth devouring.