by HPCharles *
The truth is: When people wanna make things right, they find a way to do it. But you have to want it bad. Deep down. Of course luck is important, but if you don't want to leave everything to chance, cast Mads Mikkelsen as your leading man. There you go. Now you can rest your head on the pillow and sleep tight.
Add an awesome character. A brilliant psychiatrist who is also a cannibal. A refined and sophisticated psychopath who is more evil than cops who like shooting at street signs. "Hannibal" is all that and much more. It is repulsive and astonishing. It hates trivialities, impoliteness, and flatness.
The series had a sensational start. The dialogues are consistent and the script is above average―I'd dare say "complex." The episodes are defined well, the directing is concise, without any excess, and the wardrobe is appropriate.
The supporting cast really helps as well. There isn't an abyss in acting quality. Hugh Dancy who, in theory, should share the screen with Mads―and I say "in theory" because no one can shine brighter than him―is surprisingly good. Maybe it came as a surprise to me, not to you, because he didn't make a good first impression on me after I saw that damn "The Jane Austen Book Club" movie, which made me want to kill myself in some medieval way. Sorry if you liked it... You see, I'm a boy, so that was too much for me. I have to draw a line in the sand somewhere.
So, Hugh plays the tormented and lonely Agent Will Graham. The same character was played before by the great Edward Norton in "Red Dragon" and by William Petersen in "Manhunt". The series is adapted from Tomas Harris' book "Red Dragon" and the chronology follows the 2002 movie, just starting a little earlier in the timeline.
With the series, we can enjoy the friendly relationship between the cannibal and the creative agent―I just don't know how much longer they'll stay friends. Actually, it is the agent's imagination that makes Graham stand out, becoming a special resource in hunting insane criminals. It's as if he had superpowers that allow him to catch a glimpse of the past and tell others exactly what happened. No, he's no medium, and he makes it pretty clear himself, but he can draw conclusions from his unique "imagination".
However, he pays a price for it. Seeing crimes through the eyes of a psychopath does take a toll, and what a high toll it is! He feels anxious, afraid and, above all, it makes him question his values. That's a very interesting feature and it contributes to an almost oppressive atmosphere throughout the series.
The cast is complete with competent veteran actor Laurence Fishburne playing Jack Crawford, responsible for FBI investigations (I bet you remember the character from "The Silence of the Lambs") and Caroline Dhavernas, a cute actress who has a lot of movies under her belt, despite none of her characters comes to mind right now. Still, she does a good job as the psychiatrist whose only job so far has been to help tormentes Will carry his burden. And, if all that weren't enough, here's a little spoiler alert: Gillian Anderson will guest star in the show. Damn, Scully herself will be in Hannibal!? Could this get any better?
This series is well structured and captivating. Crime scenes are arranged correctly, far from being trivial, as we're used to seeing in most of TV these days. The episodes are also full of references and psychoanalysis discourses, which is the icing on the cake for me. The conversations between the sadistic psychoanalyst and the agent are sharp and pertinent. Symbolic elements permeate the narrative and adorn most of the scenes.
Food is something sacred to Lecter and we never know whether he's actually serving human flesh. That certainly makes viewers queasy. There's a scene on the second episode in which Hannibal has dinner with Jack Crawford and, if you pay attention, you'll notice that the fancy red sauce carefully poured over the meat looks a lot like blood―the comparison is hard to avoid. Food for Lecter is, above all, a way to express all his nuances, to combine his dichotomy between the highly civilized and the wildly savage. It is precisely while feeding that a cannibal shows himself. But, in Lecter's case, it would be more appropriate to say that, at that moment, he puts on a mask.
So far, this is a series that you cannot miss. Mads' robotic face is the perfect frame for this distinguished man eater. Without a question, he is a legitimate successor for Anthony Hopkins, who himself is a genius. The casting director truly hit the bull's eye and the selection really makes all pieces fall into place around the production. You can feel when something truly fits, when everything connects. "Go watch Hannibal!" is all I can say. I've been watching TV series for quite some time now and it's rare when I find myself anxiously waiting for the next episode. There were only a few times before when I felt this curious to see when a charismatic villain, in all his greatness, would come to the surface. I've been asking myself, "When will they put that horrible mask on him? What will it look like on Mads' stone-like face?"
All I know is that, after watching Mads Mikkelsen's magnificent work as the bad guy in the story, I thought about the pathetic executioner in "The Following," who's being played like a caricature. At that moment, for a split second, I allowed myself to blend fiction and reality and felt an uncontrollable urge to send him James Purefoy's address. After all, for a lot less Lecter once literally ate a flute player who was getting in the way of his enjoying an orchestra playing. If we're in any luck, he could eat Joe Carroll's kidneys and put an end to “The Following” once and for all.
What, you don't agree? Well, let the guy decide, would you?