Why NBC's 'Hannibal' Is Unlike Anything You've Ever Seen
When I first heard rumors of NBC bringing the beloved Hannibal Lecter to the small screen a few years ago, I was reluctant to give the show a chance. It seemed like an oddly timed cash grab, as the now popular technique of translating films to television series was becoming a popular trend. After the initial buzz surrounding the show was mostly positive, I found myself checking out the premiere, and I was immediately hooked.
Each episode of Hannibal is akin to watching a dream on screen. Conversations between characters are hazy and theoretical. Each scene is shot like a classical work of art, making it probably the most beautiful show I've ever seen. I won't claim to be a student of cinematography, but Bryan Fuller manages to make the show have a hypnotic quality that draws you into the twisted world of Hannibal.
Sure, he's cooking people, but I'd be lying if I said it didn't look delicious. Hannibal is the kind of show that will actually make you think to yourself, "I'd probably eat a person if it was cooked like that." How twisted is that?
Despite the title of Hannibal, Mads Mikkelson's masterful portrayal of a true sociopath with a massive superiority complex isn't the main character. Hugh Dancy's Will Graham, the man tasked with bringing Hannibal to justice, takes that coveted slot. His awkward genius plays as the perfect foil to the master manipulator that is Hannibal, and the show explores their relationship as more than that of hero/villain. They're thrown together as doctor/patient who evolve into colleagues, before transforming into something else entirely. Will struggles with his own sanity and keeping what is real and what is in his head in check, making him an easy target despite his intellect.
The violence on the show is unlike any I've ever seen. Grotesque and deliberate, it's like a show snuck out from beneath HBO and onto NBC. Despite awful murders, including utilizing dead bodies to fertilize the Earth, the violence is never excessive. It serves a deliberate purpose, which makes it all the more horrifying. Hannibal is probably the most difficult show to describe in words, since it's so unlike anything else on television, and it's acts of violence are no different.
The show serves as a prequel to the books, although this third season will follow the Red Dragon storyline, and Bryan Fuller has given an established character a completely new outlook and life on screen with his daring risks and masterful character work. Hannibal has been on the fringes of cancellation each year, but thanks to its mostly international financing, it's managed to stay alive on NBC, (which itself is struggling for quality hits) and provides us with some of the most thought provoking and disturbingly beautiful television in recent memory.
Hannibal is the most terrifying monster of all. He's the monster that acknowledges himself, but doesn't see what he does as evil. He is such a narcissist, he believes everyone, except, perhaps, Will Graham is beneath him, and he demands (and deserves) your attention.
Hannibal airs on NBC at 10/9C.