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Hannibal: A Feast For Your Nightmares That Will Make Your Waking Self, Sick

BY COLLEEN SCRIVEN|

The cast of the new NBC series, "Hannibal"
The cast of the new NBC series, “Hannibal” (Zap2it)

This past Thursday, NBC fed us its newest drama—even though we’re still recovering from the bad taste the series “Do No Harm” left in our mouths.

“Hannibal” joins the ranks of shows that are based on popular films, with its roots in 1991’s five-time Academy Award winning “The Silence of the Lambs.” But that doesn’t mean this new adaptation is going to be nearly as acclaimed or even as popular as the film.

When the show begins, you may be struck by how awful Jodi Foster looks. Then you’ll say “Oh wait, that’s a dude.” Then you’ll come to the glum realization that this show has very little in common with the movie that kept you up when you were five, other than the FBI and, of course, the titular character whose dinner parties you’d want to avoid.

Hugh Dancy as a criminal profiler, Will Graham
Hugh Dancy as a criminal profiler, Will Graham (Hollywood Reporter)

This new drama stars Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as a criminal profiler who is sought out by the FBI to help solve a case, since he has a gift for getting into the dark minds of killers. However helpful this gift may be on the outside, it is destroying Graham on the inside. He is reserved, withdrawn, and focused at all times. As a protagonist, we aren’t rooting for him so much as trying to figure out what his deal is. It’s like we’re profiling him as he’s profiling the bad guys.

So Graham is brought on board by Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), who is just as intrigued by him as we are. Crawford is working on a case about young female college students from Minnesota who are being taken and presumably killed. When Graham runs into issues with the case, Crawford goes to a famous psychologist for help—the one and only Dr. Hannibal Lector (Mads Mikkelsen). The two of them work on the case and get into a few scuffles as we see Graham starting to lose it under the pressure and also several scenes of Lector just cooking and eating—although this doesn’t exactly make you hungry.

Mad Mekkelsen as "Hannibal"
Mad Mekkelsen as “Hannibal”

It isn’t that the show is bad; realistically, it might be the best new drama NBC has served up in a while. The roles are all extremely well cast, specifically with Mikkelson. He manages to create his own Lector in a way that is still familiar enough to Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal that we don’t feel he’s wrecking the iconic villain. It should also be noted that the dream-like—or perhaps nightmare-like—death sequences are shockingly scary and gory for broadcast television. So visually, it’s very impressive.

The show’s real issue is that most of its characters are boring. They’re more like caricatures, which is unfortunately apparent, with all the police procedurals on TV. But the killers are very imaginative, so hopefully we’ll see more of them and less of our agents in the coming episodes. Maybe with less exposition and more bloody crime scenes the show will be more exciting. However, that will come with its own challenges—after all, how are a bunch of writers supposed to come up with a new insane murderer every week? At best, the show will become like “Criminal Minds,” which is basically the same show sans-cannibal and now sinking fast in its 8th season.

But I’m hoping Hannibal proves me wrong and turns into a genre, bending, physiological thriller that will bump up the ratings of the sick giant of the airwaves. Maybe we need rehashed versions of classics that do something a little different so that soon we can get back to really innovative programs that are unlike anything else we’ve seen.

 Check the show out on Hulu or NBC.com so you can decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth coming back for seconds.

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