Hey TV.com, Should I Watch Hannibal?

By Tim Surette

Apr 03, 2013

Let the 2013 TV midseason forever be known as the season of the sensitive serial killer, because it seems like everywhere you turn, there's a new show about the joys of slicing victims open for fun (or about learning about those joys). Fox's hollow The Following features a literary-professor-turned-eyeball-collector and a cult of dimwitted followers. A&E's Bates Motel has turned back the clock to tell a passable coming-of-age story of a young Norman "Psycho" Bates. And now NBC has Hannibal, a prequel of the Silence of the Lambs prequel Red Dragon

But is Hannibal a killer new series or just a copycat that'll give me a chance to murder a bunch of terrible puns? I've seen the pilot episode and I'm here to answer your questions in another edition of "Hey TV.com, Should I Watch [This Show]?"  

? What is this, some sort of Silence of the Lambs prequel? 

Yes! But, as I said above, it's even more prequel-y than that! Hannibal is set before the events of Thomas Harris's novel Red Dragon, and stars Hugh Dancy (The Big C) as socially awkward FBI profiler Will Graham. After taking time off from hunting serial killers to lecture at the academy, he's brought back into the fold by the agency's head of behavioral sciences Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) when a particularly nasty man in Minnesota starts killing young women. Crawford eventually recruits Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, Casino Royale), who *spoiler alert for those of you who were just born three seconds ago* secretly likes to kill people and eat them, to help Graham catch other serial killers, and voila! You have yourself a TV show.

What kind of twisted mind is behind Hannibal?

One of the best in the business, Bryan Fuller. The Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, and Mockingbird Lane creator gets a little more serious here, but his panache for morbid imagery and sharp dialogue is present even when he leaves his normal fancifulness at home.

When does Hannibal serve its first course?

Hannibal debuts on Thursday, April 4 in the 10pm death slot on NBC. The first season is a firm 13 episodes long, and I won't be surprised if NBC has a long leash on this one. You can probably watch it without fear of it being canceled early.

What kind of audience will lap up Hannibal?

There's a cable sensibility to Hannibal, and that's immediately apparent in the opening scene, which uses half of the episode's fake-blood budget in just a few minutes. But wanton violence isn't the only draw here. Hannibal is for the Hannibal Lecter in all of us, the type of person who embraces gore and violence from an intellectual level. With strong characters and gruesome crime scenes, there's a bit of Sherlock and Dexter rolled into one show.

What makes Hannibal work?

First and foremost, tone. Between Fuller's creepy imagination and director David Slade's (Awake) eye for darkness, Hannibal is total eyeball candy for those of us too old to paint our fingernails black anymore. Hannibal's score—which is mostly effective, buzzy electronic tones and chirps that sound like someone fell asleep on the keyboard—punctuates the schizophrenia of its central characters. But what really makes Hannibal so much better than the aforementioned midseason slaughterhouse shows is its attention to the psychology of killing (rather than just blaming it on Edgar Allen Poe), mostly conveyed through Graham's ability to reenact horrific murder scenes within his supremely empathetic imagination by virtually placing himself in the killers' boots. And acting! These dudes can totally act, particularly Dancy as the hinge-less, angry, and uncooperative Graham. Mikkelsen's Lecter is nicely subdued, too.

What won't we like about

As with all FBI profiler series, things feel reverse-engineered to fit the allotted time of network television, but that's more of an inherent problem with the genre than with this particular show. Sticklers will also question some of the procedures, like how Graham and Lecter end up pursuing killers alone despite the fact that Graham is an unstable agent and Lecter isn't even an agent at all. And of course there's the big question of sustainability, which comes from knowing that Lecter won't be exposed as a serial people-eater despite working directly with one of the FBI's best profilers. 

Well, should I watch it or not?

I'm going to go ahead and say, "Yes sir/ma'am/gaseous cloud of extraterrestrial energy." Hannibal is a much more complete show than The Following, and one of the better new offerings NBC has put out in the past year.

Can I see a trailer?


What should I drink with my viewing of

The easy answer is Chianti, but I'm going to say HUMAN BLOOD. With rum.

Hannibal premieres Thursday, April 4 at 10pm on NBC.

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  • Gem-n-eye Apr 05, 2013

    On Cable...YES!!! On NBC...??? A three episode tester for sure..

  • syb72101 Aug 19, 2013

    Well, Hannibal has made it this far, so.....

  • graindesable Apr 04, 2013

    I'm not a fan of Hannibal's story ; I am a fan of good characterization and good acting though. With the mind of Brian Fuller, this show seems to have the potential to bring good actors into a good story (not like in The Following or Revolution where the talent of good actors is wasted).
    I will watch it.

  • Scarpad Apr 04, 2013

    Ever since Hannibal fed Ray Liotta's Brain to him in the movies, I've been done with all things Dr. Lecter. Anyhow I expect NBC will ax it, I've already given them my trust with Prime Suspect and Awake. And if the Thurs at 10 pm is such a death timeslot why is Elementary doing so well?

  • Silver_Sword_14 Apr 04, 2013

    The "death slot" doesn't refer to ALL shows at that particular time. For NBC, it's been Thursdays at 10. For ABC, it's been Thursdays at 8.

    To read more about them, Cory Barker actually wrote an in-depth article last month: http://www.tv.com/news/tvs-most-dangerous-timeslots-136303542787/

  • buffsterkat Apr 04, 2013

    I wish I could watch this. I love Bryan Fuller's other shows and the cast looks amazing, but I'm one of the (apparently) few people who can't handle violence and gore.

  • StevenLowe0 Apr 04, 2013

    Will give this a go but not sure. Although I have heard that the wonderful Gillian Anderson is set to have some form of recurring role :)

  • Whedonrules Apr 04, 2013

    One of the criticisms I've read for this show regards former "Kids in the Hall" Scott Thompson in the cast. He can't be as awful as criticism suggests, can he? Nice to see Caroline Dhavernas back with the old boss. As much as people loved "Pushing Daisies", "Wonderfalls" was better yet only lasted 8 shown out of order episodes on FOX. Best reason for me to watch is that Michael Rymer - the best director in Ron Moore's "Battlestar Galactica" crew is a director on this show. The show is going to look good, the cast is excellent - can't wait to see Ellen Muth's character - (has she done anything since playing "George"?) whats to worry about - oh that's right, this is NBC......

  • Svanehjerte Apr 04, 2013

    Should I watch Hannibal? Yes of course! Why? It's Bryan Fuller. That's enough for me.

  • kevbuffylost108 Apr 04, 2013

    why doesn't any one (mainly tim surrette) mention dead like me when talking about bryan fuller, it was a spectacular tv show with amazing performances.

  • kevbuffylost108 Apr 05, 2013

    i wasnt a fan of pushing daisies

  • pcsjunior002 Apr 04, 2013

    Oh, I definitely do, and I loved the show. But "Pushing Daisies" has been the go to Bryan Fuller show since it came out because it was epicly good. In addition, "Dead Like Me" was 10 years ago, and, while "Wonderfalls" was a while ago, too, it has a much more dedicated cult following. Also, "Mockingbird Lane" was VERY recent and thus might be more in the minds of viewers than "Dead Like Me" (which was also on Showtime, a pay cable station, another reason it might not be as easily remembered).

  • ludoTV Apr 04, 2013

    Of the 'midseason slaughterhouse' this is the only show I've been looking forward to... I had enough of The Following after one ep... I'd feel better though if Hannibal was on cable rather than on a network esp. the network being NBC but hey... we'll hope for the best, maybe they'll be busy fucking up everything else and will leave Hannibal alone...

  • marlonjones Apr 04, 2013

    The Following was/is absolute drag.
    This however, should be on a much higher level of quality. I mean, you've got Fuller writing,
    Slade directing AND you've got Fishburne & Mikkelsen. A no brainer (pun intended lol), but my only small issue now is with Hugh Dancy. I seriously don't like him, so i hope i can be proven wrong. And if anything, Tim you hyped this up for me even more. Good article bro!

  • Noor Apr 04, 2013

    I think we should give the following another chance it has great potential! they just need the good guys to have 1 win I mean seriously to make it a bit more realistic!!!

    no brainer... ha! I like that!

  • marlonjones Apr 04, 2013

    Natalie Zea is the only reason for me to start watching again, but i'm happy seeing her in Justified for now ;) though that finished :/ so...maybe i will!

  • Noor Apr 05, 2013

    OMG I was devastated when they cancelled the show!!
    I thought about writing something to the network but again I am an Arab and living in Dubai so I thought they'll get scared and this its threat! hahaha

  • Noor Apr 04, 2013

    I completely agree! I loved her since Dirty Sexy Money and I think she's awesome! however what I dont like is she needs to be more realistic in her role.. no woman loses her son and has perfect hair and makeup!!! I mean try try to make us understand what a woman goes through in case her son gets abducted.. you know what I mean?

  • marlonjones Apr 05, 2013

    haha! you're right!
    and i'm glad you mentioned Dirty Sexy Money, that started it all for me with her!

  • Noor Apr 04, 2013

    This comment has been removed.

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