‘Hannibal’ is based on characters taken from Thomas Harris’ novel ‘Red Dragon’, and so far retellings of his work have brought nothing but joy and happiness to the world, right? That is if your definition of joy and happiness is wonderfully thought out and deeply sinister cannibalistic, or generally just sick serial killers, and I think we can all agree that is the correct definition? Well anyway, Hannibal does not disappoint on this aspect and I feel it brings much more still.
I have not read the original novel from which this series was spawned so I won’t comment too much on that or on comparing the two as, well, how could I? But this means I can focus only on the programme itself without getting bogged down with the-book-did-it-better-isms; once you get to know me better you’ll see I have real trouble with this. But I digress, ‘Hannibal’ is the story of Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), everyone’s favourite cannibal, in his life before the lambs were being so very Silent. He, a supposedly brilliant psychiatrist, is ‘attempting’ to help crime investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), now my favourite TV character, as he helps find serial killers for the FBI using a technique of super empathy. The idea being that he can empathise so deeply with people that he can re-live what the killers did and even feel to some extent why, and what they were feeling at the time. Hannibal’s job is to make sure that his work does not affect him too deeply; I think I can safely say without risk of spoilers, he doesn’t really do his job properly. The very best aspect of this series is its amazing characters; they are so well written it makes you want to scream! Seriously, this series gave me Will’s ability of super empathy and I find myself really caring quite deeply for the characters, a TV series hasn’t made me feel like this in some time. *Sob*
As I said Will is now my favourite TV character; Mr Dancy’s performance is superb (he looks odd without his beard though, hope he keeps it) but it’s not only that but the character in general is perfect. The fact that he lives in a house seemingly in the middle of nowhere with a pack of dogs pretty much make him my dre…a guy I’d really like to hang out with. But I guess that’s not everyone’s thing so back to the crime aspect. The empathy thing he does is a way of showing the audience how the murders are committed in intimate detail without having to use the classic pseudo-science of other modern crime drama; instead we have pseudo-psychology, that’s much better right? Maybe the re-livings of killings are rather far-fetched but it is a good device of showing us what has happened without hours of boring scene investigation. We are investigating the people in this series not the evidence, that’s how I like it. The horror aspects come into effect as we watch Will’s mind break under the pressure of his job and his world begins to break down around him. I don’t want to say too much about that as it will risk spoilers but throughout the series he experiences hallucinations which really make you worry for the poor boy, just like his friends and colleagues do and Hannibal pretends to.
The character of Hannibal himself is also an awesome aspect of this programme; he is just so wonderfully evil. He is a real evil genius in that not a single person suspects him of anything. Well, there are some who see him for what he is but they don’t last long and are never anyone who will get him caught. Yet we as an audience watch him as he invites the other characters to his house and feeds them all sorts of delicious ‘animals’ though I don’t think anyone was fed liver with some lima beans and a nice chianti – I was actually quite disappointed by this. His treatment of Will is the worst by far as he becomes his trusted confidante only to use Will for his own experiments, which Will does not discover until it is way too late. Again I can’t go into too much detail on this as it will ruin some brilliant plot line for you but let us just say it makes you scream at your TV ‘Don’t trust him Will! Go to another Doctor please!’ Or maybe that was just me? Hannibal, you find out early does not really think of people as people but rather cattle, but he hides it so well from the other characters; he plays a good human, but the audience know his true nature and this just makes us want to run in and save everyone.
I could go on for some time about this but instead I implore you just go and watch it! The series has just ended on Sky but I’m sure it’ll be repeated though I’d say it is a series worth box set bucks. With some amazing actors including Laurence Fishburne and guest appearances from Gillian Anderson and Eddie Izzard, brilliant writing and a great production team making it visually interesting, this may be the best new series for some years. Go! Go watch it now!