Hannibal - Series 1 (Series Review)

NBC have already confirmed that we’ll be treated to another thirteen deliciously captivating episodes of Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal, sometime in 2014. Excellent news to all involved as the first series of Hannibal has been one of the most intelligently crafted, superbly acted and visually impressive television shows of 2013… (minor spoilers)

Bryan Fullers take on Hannibal has been one of those rare gems. Produced on a shoe-string budget (shoe-string in the world of television production anyway),  Fuller has managed to consistently deliver intriguing but gruesome ‘crime-of-the-weeks’, set a high bar for glossy visuals and also deliver complex characters that you just cant help but root for.

These wonderfully three dimensional characters stand out as the shows main attraction and none more so than Dr. Hannibal Lecter himself, played to perfection by Mads Mikkelsen (Casino Royale, The Hunt).

Hannibal Lecter is a name that’s been ingrained into our social consciousness ever since the iconic performances of Brain Cox (unfortunately not Professor Brian Cox of the BBC) in 1986’s Manhunter and more “recently” Sir Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of The Lambs, Hannibal, Red Dragon & Hannibal Rising.

There’s no doubting that Mads Mikkelsen is a very talented actor and no one more than he would have been more aware of the giant shoes he’d be filling once he agreed to take on the role of everyone’s favourite cannibal. Thankfully not only did he rise to the challenge, he booted the ball out of the proverbial park.

Dr Hannibal Lecter is an extremely dangerous man. His motives for the crimes he commits? Idle curiosity… and the crazy thing is, his charm is irrefutable. If Hannibal Lecter invited you over for dinner, you’d no doubt comply.

You would eat his hay smoked veal and love every mouthful. You’d be more than happy to indulge in his suspiciously coloured home brewed beer. How can such a charming, intelligent and well presented individual be a rampaging beast of a serial killer. How can I like him when I know what he is and what he’s capable of?

This is the kind of moral grey area which Hannibal, with little effort, manages to get it’s viewers to feel and you’re enjoyment of the show is all the better for it.

There was a slight fear midway through the series that Hannibal  may have showed it’s hand a little to early. Okay we all ‘knew’ the true nature of Dr Lecter but it wasn’t until Episode 7 that we actually see him kill, and his preferred method  of going about his business.

Now that the writers decided to confirm to us viewers that Hannibal is indeed who we all knew him to be, my first thought was ‘Right, where do we go from here?’ and ‘he’ll probably be caught by the end of the series’ (I won’t go into the series finale here), Instead what becomes apparent is how Dr Lecter is playing everyone to his own fiddle and the terrifying concept emerges just how difficult people like Dr Lecter are to spot.

Mads Mikkelson doesn’t carry the show on his own and has a more than equal protagonist in the form of Hugh Dancy’s (Black Hawk Down) Will Graham. Will Graham is our hero of the series who we have the difficult task of watching lose his grip on his self and reality.

I do feel that empath Will Graham isn’t the easiest character to connect with , (and no the irony isn’t lost on me) his intellectual leaps when piecing together a crime scene just almost keep him at arms length. Whilst it’s human nature empathise with others to a degree so we can understand how people think and feel, I do struggle to  what it would be like to completely assume someone’s point of view where you start to believe you are that person. All I know is that what I do feel for Will, is pity.

The biggest treat is in re-watching Hannibal and Mads Mikkelsen performance in particular. Throw away lines of ambiguous dialogue  or actions take on new meanings and add a whole new dimension to the show.

Hannibal has managed to remain above par for its entire début series. Admittedly there are moments where you’ll feel lost, The Chesapeake Riper, Minesota Shrike and The Copycat Killer all do become a bit “much” at one point, and there’s definitely room to make the conclusions of each “crime-of-the-week” feel a little less ‘oh we’ll just blow this under the carpet’. But overall the quality of the series shines through and it’s a series I just can’t help admire.

Next year seems like such a long time away…