Feast your eyes on this, Fannibals. Here are eight reasons why the uncorrupted need to start watch Hannibal, immediately.
NBC’s Hannibal is a modern interpretation of the Hannibal Lecter literature. It focuses on the character of Will Graham, based on Thomas Harris’s Red Dragon.
It stars Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, and was created by Bryan Fuller of Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls fame. David Slade (Hard Candy, 30 Days of Night) created the visual style, and the show looks like it belongs on HBO.
Still need more reasons to watch? Don’t worry, we haven’t chosen the eight most delicious cannibal meals (it’s not a spoiler, it his name literally rhymes with cannibal). But these reasons will have you (figuratively) salivating for more.
Hannibal Lecter has entered the pop culture world as one of fiction’s creepiest villains. And Hannibal shows that eating people isn’t even the creepiest part (although, yeah, that bit is pretty creepy). But what is so terrifying about Hannibal is that he has the ability to act like a completely normal person.
Hannibal is about the mind games between Will and Hannibal, as the latter manipulates the former. We know Hannibal is the bad guy, the question is – when will he pounce? Showrunner Bryan Fuller has played a masterful move by making Hannibal the one who assists the FBI, and Will the one who, well, wait until the season finale.
Despite some brilliant turns in Black Hawk Down, Adam, and King Arthur, Dancy is perhaps better known for his work in Confessions of a Shopaholic and Ella Enchanted. Without disregarding that work, after seeing Hannibal, no one would have a hope of dismissing Dancy as anything other than one of the leading actors of his generation.
As Will Graham he is hyper-intelligent, while simultaneously awkward and vulnerable. The character could be totally unlikeable in the hands of a lesser actor, but it is clear how invested Dancy is in the role and in the show, and the chemistry between him and Mikkelson leaps right off the screen.
Yes, you read that right. David Tennant, king among nerds, was up for the role of Hannibal Lecter. And he lost out to Mads Mikkelsen, which should tell you something about the caliber of acting and of the show.
Having Tennant attached would undoubtably have given Hannibal a huge promotional push before the show premiered, yet it is like Mikkelsen is made for this part (or more appropriately, it has been made around him). Watch one episode, and you will never be able to think of Hannibal Lecter the same way again.
Fuller fans are well aware by now that Bryan Fuller shows are something special, and Hannibal is no exception. It is visually stunning (helped by direction David Slade), and the writing is razor sharp – drawing on psychiatric and cooking terms, and often (dare we say), pun-ibal?
Hannibal is different from everything else Fuller has done. Unlike the primary coloured Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls, it is dark and gruesome. It puts a twist on a well established character. It even makes food that we know is supposed to look, well, appetising. But it is still very evidently a Bryan Fuller show, and we love that.
Mikkelsen and Dancy may be the stars of this chess game, but they are surrounded by some mightily impressive players. Caroline Dhavernas joins them as Dr. Alana Bloom, almost a mediator between the two, while Laurence Fishburne takes on the (often shouting) role of Jack Crawford.
The supporting cast is rounded out by Aaron Abrams, Hettienne Park, and Scott Thompson. And that’s not even to mention the guest stars of season 1 like Eddie Izzard, Gillian Anderson, and Gina Torres. This is a group of actors who know exactly what they are doing, and it’s a good thing, because with writing like this there is no room for error.
On television now, we either have the casual violence on shows like Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad, or the desensitised violence of CSI and Criminal Minds. But it has been a while since we had a show that could be legitimately terrifying. Hannibal is real horror. Like, watch with all the lights on, check under your bed for monsters or stags, kind of horror.
There is gore and there is violence – but once you get past that, the show also explores the terrifying realities of human nature. Just don’t blame us if you share Will’s nightmares for a few nights after you watch it. And expect more than one reference to classic horror (like The Shining), and to the previous Hannibal Lecter films.
Showrunner Bryan Fuller has made no secret of his plans for Hannibal’s future. Granted, Fuller doesn’t have the best record with long running shows (Dead Like Me – 2 seasons, Pushing Daisies – 2 seasons, Wonderfalls – 1 season), but we like that he dreams big – and we like that he has a master plan for the show.
According to Fuller’s plan, the first three seasons will be comprised of his own original take on the Hannibal Lecter story. Season 4 will take on Red Dragon, season 5 will be The Silence of the Lambs, season 6 is Hannibal, wrapping up with a final season of original content. The show has been picked up for a second season of 13 episodes, and hopefully there will be more to follow.
As with any great show, this is both an upside, and a downside. For new viewers, catching up on Hannibal is going to be a lot easier than racing through Breaking Bad, or Mad Men. And once you finish it, you can join the rest of the fannibals in curing Bryan Fuller that the season was so short.
The 13 episodes are like a wonderful buffet (see what we did there?), both completely satisfying and leaving you tantalised for more. It’s only a weekend’s watching – although once you start, we wouldn’t be surprised if you raced through in a single day. And then re-watch the next day.
Hannibal season 2 will premiere in 2014 on NBC, and will run 13 episodes.