A nerd before the birth of TOS Red Shirts, I share my thoughts on genre media be it books, movies, TV shows, etc

Monday, July 8, 2013

Serial Killer Smorgasbord - Part 2

Serial Killer Smorgasbord - Part 2

Hannibal

Desparate for some ratings traction NBC took a gamble with Hannibal and let TV show runner vet Bryan Fuller bring this grisly series to broadcast TV with the hope that the cachet that Silence of the Lambs - Hannibal the Cannibal Lectern has would bring some much needed eyes to the network.  And for the most part that gamble paid off.

Hannibal the TV series is a prequel to the events that take place prior to those from ManHunter and Silence of the Lambs.  The show has a great cast but no doubt the lion's share of the credit belongs with Bryan Fuller.  Fuller was a self professed Star Trek freak who won his way onto the show when there was an open call for scripts.  From there Fuller has worked his way up to producer gigs on such shows as Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, Heroes, a Munsters remake of the 60s TV series and rejected pilot - Mockingbird Lane.  Throughout his various gigs, Fuller has shown himself a consummate story teller and all those skills come to play with Hannibal.




Hannibal stars Hugh fancy as a mentally tortured profiler, Will Graham brought in by the FBI's Jack Crawford played by Laurence Fishburne, and in the titular role, Mads Mikkelsen.  There are other characters but their function is restricted to plot holders. Slightly more nuanced is psychiatrist Dr. Alana Bloom played by Caroline Dhavernas who is romantically attracted to Will.

The lead 3 characters are all great with Mikkelsen having the juiciest role.  The show's motif of naming each episode after a culinary serving tied into dinner scenes of Hannibal serving his guests meals of questionable origin never became tired.  They never failed to make me uneasy.

One of the pitfalls the show avoided that I expected was the episodes to be driven by stand alone murder investigations tied to an over arcing season long serialized thread. Instead the story was driven the other way around.  Each episode was part of the gestalt of the season long story behind which stood Hannibal manipulating everyone especially Will.

Given Will's tenuous hold on his mental state I pondered how the series would be able to go beyond this season with Will often seen in a state of not only mental but physical distress: disheveled and sweat soaked.  The toil on his character was not sustainable in the long term. There seemed to be no plausible story line with any longevity.

But Bryan Fuller brings the close of the first season to the only possible end point that allows for a second season.  A second season that I am very excited to see where the show goes next.  Will Graham is locked away and viewed as insane by the world but Will knows that Lectern was behind it all.  It's a stunning reversal of all the previous incarnations of the two characters.

Brilliant Bryan Fuller!  Brilliant.

In Part 3 we avoid the clutches of Mr. Slaughter.



4 comments:

Bryant Burnette said...

I was sort of blown away by "Hannibal." Mikkelsen has done what seemed almost impossible: he has -- for me, at least (I'll understand if others don't fall into the same camp) -- replaced Anthony Hopkins as the definitive Hannibal Lecter. I cannot wait to see what the second season will consist of, especially for him.

But in some ways, I think Caroline Dhavernas may have been the most impressive member of the cast. She's got an integral role, but it's one that never gets to be flashy in the way some of the others do. And yet, pay attention to what she's actually doing in her scenes (especially toward the end of the season), and you will see an absolutely dynamic performance going on in her eyes. Marvelous work. No surprise; she was awesome on "Wonderfalls," and I've always wondered why she never managed to snag more great roles based on that one.

Last note: I'm still bummed that "Mockingbird Lane" didn't get picked up to series. I really liked that pilot episode!

Bryant Burnette said...

Oh! I also forgot to mention how cool it was to see Gina Torres as Jack's wife. I hope she will show up in the second season.

Old Darth said...

Hey Bryant! Thanks for the comments.

Yes everyone connected to the show did a fantastic job. Dhavernas definitely brought a nuance to a role that IMO was pretty limited in scope because the majority of her actions were tied to her feelings for Will.

The only knock I have against Mikkelsen is it sometimes difficult to understand what he is saying.

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