In this 13-part first season, we follow the early relationship between FBI criminal profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and his psychotherapist, the somewhat shifty Dr Lecter, as Graham helps track down a succession of serial killers.
Beginning with a horrific encounter with a murderer known as the Minnesota Shrike, the audience relives each attack, stylishly recreated through the eyes of Graham as the killer, highlighting his near superhuman ability to empathize with his subject. Of course, what Graham doesn’t know is that another monster dwells closer to home than that.
We all know the celluloid history of Harris’ character – thankfully, Hannibal as a TV series owes more to the genuinely chilling darkness of film adaptation The Silence of The Lambs than its almost cartoonish namesake sequel and prequel. Mikkelsen exudes the perfect balance between sinister sizing-up of his victims and darkly comic food-related one-liners, immediately exorcising the memory of Sir Anthony Hopkins’ latter chewing of the scenery. Some thoughtful writing presents an extra, humane, layer to Lecter’s characterization; Mikkelsen’s deceptively blank features hint at this with subtlety and charm.
Likewise, Dancy is just as good as the haunted FBI man, brilliantly portraying the conflicting emotions he feels as he is compelled to immerse himself within that which he finds truly repellent. A strong support cast, including a solid (if occasionally wooden) Laurence Fishburne as Graham’s boss, a memorable Gillian Anderson as Lecter’s own counsellor and a never-better Eddie Izzard as one of the show’s more complex butchers are all fine, though the real drama lies in the interplay between our two leads.
Some stunning direction from the likes of Slade and seasoned TV specialists John Dahl (Breaking Bad) and Peter Medak (The Wire) beautifully brings out Hannibal’s distinctive shades. Colourful dinners are served as murky gothic landscapes reveal extravagant mutilations that trump even the most harrowing images from Jonathan Demme’s striking film adaptation. Allowing for both savage theatricality and more personal insight, this recipe proves addictive.
Renewed for a second season, the prospect of further pitch-black forays into the minds of our famous Dr Lecter and his troubled patient Graham is nothing less than delicious.
Extras: About as sparse as some of the artfully-cooked appetisers seen in the show, though there aren’t many extras thrown in, what there is remains intriguing.
The ‘Eat the Rude’ featurette looks at the dazzling work of the chef who acted as culinary influence for Hannibal as well as food’s symbolic significance to the story. The ‘First Look’ featurette goes behind the scenes on the production process and ideas behind this latest adaptation of Thomas Harris’ work. ‘Forensics 101’ looks into the casting of Graham’s FBI forensics team, plus interviews with the actors behind these roles. An intriguing selection of morsels though by no means enough to satisfy a real hunger.
Released on DVD and Blu-ray on Monday 2 September 2013.
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