TV Review: ‘Hannibal’

Hannibal NBC TV Review

Sure, this won't end well, but for now, Bryan Fuller's grisly take is a lot of fun

Like “Dracula,” which it replaces on NBC, “Hannibal’s” stay of execution stems largely from international largesse, and Yanks with an appetite for this meticulously crafted series are the Stateside beneficiaries. Still hamstrung, in part, by its place in Thomas Harris’ dense, frequently adapted universe, the series functions best on narrow terrain, as a psychological game of cat and mouse — or really, cats and mice — with a suave killer operating under the noses of his eventual captors. Bryan Fuller’s delicate rendering contains enough beautiful images and unexpected moments to operate a little longer, but this little lamb is perched on rickety legs.

The events of last season have left the tables rather awkwardly turned, with haunted profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) under suspicion of murder, and Dr. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) consulting to FBI honcho Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne), while plying him with epicurean delights.

Graham, meanwhile, doesn’t trust Lecter, but a fuzzy memory — yielding some “Twin Peaks”-like visual interludes — makes it difficult for Graham to be certain about his suspicions regarding the cannibal, even as Lecter can’t resist putting his head in the lion’s mouth, to the chagrin of his own psychologist (conveniently played by Gillian Anderson, a co-star in NBC’s upcoming “Crisis”).

Rightly celebrated for his darkly comic streak (see “Pushing Daisies”), Fuller has found in “Hannibal” a concept designed to indulge those impulses right up to the point of ghastliness, and there’s a slightly unsettling combination in the beauty with which he depicts murder and death against the pain and ugliness of it all. (One scene in the episodes previewed, in particular, is as cringe-inducing as anything witnessed on broadcast television in some time.)

That said, for those who have wondered how exactly one might prepare a human leg, there are some helpful hints here unlikely to be presented on, say, the Food Network.

The show succeeds, to the extent it does, thanks to the braininess of its characters, Mikkelson’s positively reptilian approach to Lecter — taking a character with which the audience is so familiar and making it his own — and the clever use of a bracing season-opening sequence that frames essentially everything to come as an extended flashback.

In pragmatic terms, NBC also appears to have stumbled upon something, thanks to the modest success of “Grimm,” by turning Fridays into a night to explore the macabre, including projects that might have a finite shelf life — two descriptions that aptly fit “Hannibal.”

For all that, those who savored the first season and clamored for its return despite mediocre ratings, by all means, dig in.

TV Review: 'Hannibal'

(Series; NBC, Fri. Feb. 28, 10 p.m.)

Production

Filmed in Toronto by Gaumont Intl. Television.

Crew

Executive producers, Bryan Fuller, Martha De Laurentiis, Steve Lightfoot, Michael Rymer, Chris Brancato, Katie O’Connell, Elisa Roth, Christope Riandee, Sidonie Dumas; co-executive producers, Jeff Vlaming, Scott Nimerfro, Ayanna A. Floyd; producers, Tim King, Michael Kessler, Loretta Ramos; director, Tim Hunter; writers, Fuller, Lightfoot; camera, James Hawkinson; production designer, Matthew Davies; music, Brian Reitzell; casting, Robin D. Cook. 60 MIN.

Cast

Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Aaron Abrams, Scott Thompson

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  1. Vampie Fang says:

    Dracula is the breakout sleeper hit of the year 2013. It’s one of the best renditions of this old folklore story portrayed in recent years. I hope the delay in announcement of a season 2 is because of contact renewals & production scheduling with the actors and actresses, & not because of lack of interest in the show from it’s fans. The NBC Dracula face book page has proved success for this drama series by having clpse to 800,000 “Likes” and it seems to grow by a 1,000 plus every few days. I read that an announcement if there is to be a season 2 will be given sometime in May 2014. It would be wise to allow this show to remain in production for several seasons to come as it is a brilliant show and enjoyable to view. People are so dedicated to bring about the attention needed to help the decision to keep Dracula on air that petitions have been wrote. Fans are signing them by the thousands. The fans are from overseas as well as from stateside. The show is genius, superbly written, and the cast of actors and actresses are a force to be reckoned with. Their performance’s abilities are outstanding. Dracula follows the original story close enough but with a steam punk modernistic approach. Which is clever to keep the storyline intriguing and captivating. The sets are spot on with the time era and full of splendor. The costumes are handsome and glamorous. It’s refreshing to have a show for the mature viewership and one that reaches out to an all gender audience. A show that has none of the following; federal agents, singing comps, absurd and/or obscured talent shows, police chases, fires that are put out in seconds, unfunny comedy situations, gangs & drug lords running amok in neighborhoods, & celeb games. TV airtime has been saturated with all of this for years and it’s tiresome. To have this unique show Dracula for just one season would be unjust to the viewers.

  2. I think that with some decent marketing like they have been doing, Hannibal could easily continue on NBC. I’ve also heard that other networks have contacted NBC to let them know that they would be willing to take on the show or co-finance it like ABC and Direct Tv did with “Friday Night Lights” a few years back.

    Personally I think it would be a huge mistake for NBC to let this one go. Most network shows can’t compete against the likes of cable tv because they are limited in what they can do and show. Hannibal with it’s late time slot of 10 pm is able to pull of far more blood and carnage than I would have thought possible. The intelligence of the show, great characters and visuals make this one of the 10 best shows on television right now which is saying something.

    Network tv could benefit from some street cred by using Hannibal to show that yes, it can create a show as good as cable. And I wouldn’t be surprised to see the show see it’s ratings go up this year and it’s DVR ratings as well. I for one don’t want to see this one end before it’s time.

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