May 2, 2013
It’s safe to say that right now the mystery/crime drama is the most popular genre on T.V., so it only makes sense that NBC would try to cash in on it, which they do with their new show Hannibal. Hannibal serves as a prequel to Thomas Harris’ novels The Red Dragon and the better known, The Silence of the Lambs. Considering how beloved the latter is, this show has some pretty high standards to meet, but despite being only half way through the first season, Hannibal has already managed to blow all of my expectations out of the water.

The show introduces us to criminal profiler, Will Graham (portrayed by British actor, Hugh Dancy), who has the unique ability to assume the point of view serial killers. Unsurprisingly, this tends to hamper his people skills, and Hugh Dancy does a brilliant job of portraying his instability while still gaining the audience’s sympathy, even when he’s acting like a jerk. Naturally when we encounter his character he is investigating a murder, but is struggling to create a profiler for the killer. Enter Hannibal Lecter, a brilliant forensic psychologist, who teams up with Will to catch the killer, but little does Will know that his new partner will become one of the most feared killers of all time.

This is the part of the show that could have really failed. Anthony Hopkins pretty much made Hannibal Lecter’s character, which leaves some pretty big shoes to fill. In this series he is portrayed by former Bond villain, Mads Mikkelsen, who has already managed to take ownership of the character without demeaning Hopkins’ performance. Hopkins’ Hannibal had the danger that comes with an animal that’s been caged too long, but Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is a free man: he presents a calm even good-humored exterior, but this is only a façade. He watches the other characters the same way a snake in the grass watches its prey, and it truly is frightening on the rare occasions when he chooses to show his true colors. If this show continues Mikkelsen may even be able to do with Hannibal what Heath Ledger did with the Joker.

Fans of the books and movies should be pleased with this new interpretation of an iconic character, and new comers should enjoy the clever plot twists and mystery stories that this show has already proven it can handle. While there is some gore it is presented as artistically and tastefully as possible, and there’s even some nods toward The Silence of the Lambs. All in all Hannibal is a promising new show to tune in on, maybe with some fava beans and a nice Chianti on the side…

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