Hannibal – Series Premiere

NBC-Hannibal-Episode-1-AperitifOne of my highly-anticipated premieres of the spring season, NBC’s new horror/drama HANNIBAL was on tonight.  It was highly anticipated by me for several reasons, but primarily because I have been such a fan of the movies for such a long time.  SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is obviously the de facto classic, but the followup movie HANNIBAL was a terrific leap forward for the storyline and the characters, placing it somewhere solid in my personal top 20 movies.  RED DRAGON was fine but not great, and HANNIBAL RISING was nothing more than an awkward cash grab snoozefest.

The prim-and-proper brutality of Hannibal Lecter always made him such an intriguing character to me.  He is the classic gentleman in every way yet has such a brooding evil about him that it almost makes his behavior seem elegant in a manner of speaking.  Is murdering and cannibalization okay?  No, but you damn near root for Dr. Lecter as he’s committing the crimes.  Also interesting that he never exists as the primary villain, merely the incidental villain who simultaneously acts as the ultimate anti-hero.

My biggest concern about taking the iconic character of Hannibal Lecter into a television series was the audience being able to separate character from actor.  ANTHONY HOPKINS is Hannibal Lecter, plain and simple.  So as another actor dares invade Hopkins’ personal space would it be too glaringly obvious?  I am happy to report the answer is no, and that the character of Hannibal Lecter has found a perfect new home.

So how was the premiere?  Click in to find out!

Superbly executed on every level, this is exactly what THE FOLLOWING tried to be and fell just short of.  The cast is fantastic, the script is smart and everything syncs nicely in homage to the movies (at least the movies that matter)

The show takes place somewhere just before Dr. Lecter is caught for the first time, he is brought in to assist in a case involving a string of murdered brunette girls.  Special Agent Will Graham is a crime scene profiler who works much like Frank Black from MILLENNIUM where he can put himself in the mindset of the killer.  They are both led by Jack Crawford played by LAWRENCE FISHBURN.

First and foremost, giant props to MADS MIKKELSEN who flat out nails the role of Hannibal Lecter.  He doesn’t try to duplicate Hopkins’ interpretation, rather naturally embodies the spirit of Lecter.  HUGH DANCY, who plays Special Agent Graham is a British actor relatively unknown to us American folk but plays a great opposing role to Mikkelsen’s calm, cool and collected self.  The addition of LAWRENCE FISHBURN was an extremely smart move and he is great as always.  It even looks like GILLIAN ANDERSON is going to pop up later in the season… cool!

The show is very, very (very) dark and violent which a good thing in this case.  I especially enjoyed the effect of Graham’s ability to ‘wipe’ the crime scene away to deconstruct the motives of the killer.  I hope they stick with that theme throughout the series.  Watching Lecter chop up and prepare his meals was another great touch again harkening to the razor sharp contrast between desire to like the character and the disgust of his actions.

The episode titles are a humorous/ironic little touch all being french terms for parts of a big multi-course meal.  This one was “Aperitif” which refers to snacks or drinks preceding a meal.  The next episode is “Amuse-Bouche” referring to bite-sized chef’s choice appetizers.

A+ for an outstanding series premiere.  If the show stays even-keel, it might easily be one of the best new shows this season.

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