We want a TV show about Hannibal Lector!—said absolutely no one, ever. But Bryan Fuller (of “Pushing Daisies” and “Heroes” fame) and NBC gave it to us anyway. The surprising thing? It’s actually an amazing show, with great acting and directing that rivals any cable competitors. Here are three biggest reasons you should catch up on “Hannibal” right now:
1. It makes Hannibal Lector scary again.
When’s the last time you were afraid of Hannibal Lector? Most would probably say “Silence of the Lambs,” the 1991 movie that introduced Lector to the American mainstream. Of course, the pressure of the Oscar-winning movie forced original author Thomas Harris to keep pushing out novels that just got more and more ridiculous, leading to movies like “Hannibal” and “Hannibal Rising” that look more like parodies than sequels.
Mads Mikkelsen, taking over the Hannibal role from Anthony Hopkins, does the seemingly impossible—he makes Hannibal into an enigma again. Set before “Silence of the Lambs” and “Red Dragon,” the first novel in Harris’ series, “Hannibal” shows us its title character as we’ve never really seen him before—the upstanding member of elite society that he was before being found out as a serial killer. Yes, the audience knows what Hannibal is, but it takes a lot longer for the people around him to figure it out. What he’s able to do in the meantime is absolutely horrifying.
2. It’s the most interesting show about murder on TV.
We know that’s a big claim because SO MANY shows are about murder or violence—”Law & Order,” “CSI,” “The Walking Dead,” Game of Thrones” etc. etc. But “Hannibal” is different in that focuses in on the minds of people who kill for the joy of killing. Most of the time, these killers have nothing to gain except a perverse happiness. Compare that to “Game of Thrones,” where everyone has an ulterior motive. And even though they’re the bad guys, the killers aren’t demonized like they are on other procedurals. The audience is placed in a weird position where we kind of understand their motives. Like the show’s lead character, Will Graham, you might find yourself questioning your sanity while watching “Hannibal.”
3. It has visuals to rival any cable show on the air.
Usually, when someone talks about a show having an amazing visual style, it’ll be a cable show like “Breaking Bad” or “Mad Men.” NBC has bucked the trend with “Hannibal,” proving that you cable channels don’t have the monopoly on visually arresting TV shows. As the show has progressed through its second season, the visuals have only gotten more haunting and surreal, often mixing delusions and dream sequences in with reality in a disturbing collage.
If there’s one thing you can knock against “Hannibal,” it’s that the writing often pales in comparison to the acting and directing. Not to say it’s a poorly written show, far from it—but a lot of times, especially in recent episodes, the ways that people die are unrealistic and serve more to give the audience a pretty picture and a heavy-handed metaphor over realistic murder. Take, for example, the episode where bodies were bound together to create a huge totem pole of corpses. It looked cool, but when was the last time you ever heard of anyone making a totem pole out of corpses? Apparently, in the world of “Hannibal,” once-in-a-lifetime murder cases happen every other week.
Based on where “Hannibal” is available for streaming, it would seem that NBC doesn’t want you to catch up on one of its best shows. If you’re lucky enough to have a Comcast cable subscription, you can watch all of season two on xFinity, or watch the last five episodes on NBC’s website and mobile apps. Otherwise, you’re stuck buying the episodes individually on Amazon or iTunes. Or DVDs… if you still use DVDs…
[Image via NBC]