By Jonathan Kellam
Hannibal: Series Premiere (2013)
Directed by David Slade
★½ out of ★★★★
Hugh Dancy as Will Graham
Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Caroline Dhavernas as Dr. Alana Bloom
Laurence Fishburne as Jack Crawford
Long after the cow that is this franchise has been milked dry, we are subjected to Hannibal, a television series featuring the notorious cinematic cannibal, Dr. Hannibal Lecter. In the vain of CSI, the show is about the new partnership of Dr. Lecter and a brilliant criminal profiler, Will Graham. Together they are on the trail of a serial killer responsible for the deaths of numerous college students. Will this dynamic duo crack the case? Or is the killer Dr. Lecter himself? You’ll have to watch the next episode (or the next dozen) to find out. Personally, I’d prefer a rerun of Seinfeld.
The Hannibal Lecter franchise has been a strange one, spawning five films and now a television series. A film’s quality and the number of sequels it deserves have nothing to do with each other. The Silence of the Lambs is one of the greatest films of all time and, while I’m in the minority, I believe Hannibal was also a very good film. The very first film featuring Lecter, Manhunter, was remade as Red Dragon so they could replace Brian Cox with Anthony Hopkins and rake in several million more dollars. That was already a stretch, even though Red Dragon was still fairly enjoyable and I do prefer it to Manhunter. Then came the deplorable Hannibal Rising, a brainless, sloppy film that should have signaled that the cow had completely run dry and it was time to put this franchise out to pasture. But no, here is a television show that is poorly written, completely devoid of tension and just plain boring.
The creators should have known that the casting of Lecter was what would make or break the show and I am not impressed with Mads Mikkelsen. He is a fine actor, he was just absolutely wrong for this role. He’s too stiff and too menacing. He reminds me more of a mob hitman than a cultured psychiatrist who has an interesting way of dealing with rude people. I suppose Hugh Dancy and the supporting cast do well enough with the flimsy material they’re given.
Although this film sets up its own continuity, Red Dragon set up the concept that Will Graham and Dr. Lecter had worked together on murder investigations before Lecter’s arrest and I suppose with the dozens of “detective” shows spawning every year it was inevitable that this would happen. If you’re a fan of the films, then give it a watch to satisfy your curiosity, but I’d be very surprised if this show picked up a very dedicated fan base and I’ll be shocked if it lasts more than two seasons.