In another bold attempt to draw attention to what has recently been a drowning prime time slate of dramas, NBC has put forth the very high profile new series, Hannibal. Hannibal is about a young FBI profiler named Will Graham who is capable of placing himself inside the mind of killers, to a point where he is starting to be affected by how much he is able to relate to them. He has a tenuous grip on his mental stability and when highly recommended psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter gets brought in to help profile a serial killer, Graham feels himself slipping even further down the rabbit hole.
This show is very quiet and cerebral, and I think it is done that way to make the violence seem all the more jarring and disquieting. It has a very crisp and sharp visual style that uses the contrast of colors very well. The blood seems extra red because of how muted the colors are around it. The stars are all marquee names and they perform admirably in these complex roles. In the iconic (and possibly thankless) role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, Mads Mikkelsen has a very matter-of-fact and detached chill to his dialog and the scene where you see him prepare a set of human lungs and cook them for dinner is so emotionless that it feels even more sinister. I was also surprised to see some notable comic actors in serious roles, Dan Fogler as a patient of Dr. Lecter and Kids in the Hall veteran Scott Thompson as FBI crime scene analyst Jimmy Price. I think the pilot episode was solid, but I am already concerned about the direction the show seems like it might be heading. I am tentatively giving Hannibal a B- but hoping it can eventually go much higher.
Hannibal is disturbing, dark, and utterly intriguing. Within the first few minutes, I was shocked by the graphic violence and the storytelling style that was employed. Visually, the show is unlike anything I have seen before on television. The editing is tight, and the cinematography is stunning. The writers chose their words sparingly and in so doing allowed the visuals to create a riveting story. I found Hugh Dancy to be the standout performance of the episode. His character vacillates between experiencing a crime from the perspective of the killer to feeling awkward in the presence of other humans all within the span of a second. Dancy is a consummate actor and manages to showcase these emotions on his expressive face with ease. Ultimately, I was left with more questions than answers from the first episode, which means I will be back to see what happens. I have no idea how the creators and writers will keep this show going. I am also concerned by the dark amount of violence—this is not normally what I enjoy, but when it is done so well it is hard not be interested by it. B+