HANNIBAL Season One DVD Review

Hannibal - Season 1HANNIBAL Season One
Lionsgate

Back in 1975 Thomas Harris wrote a book about a terrorist attack on a Superbowl called BLACK SUNDAY, it was made into a movie and I read the mass market paperback in 1976. In 1981 Harris released a book called RED DRAGON. It too was made into a movie, The film was called Manhunter and was directed by Michael Mann. I love this film. I loved it enough to get the book and I loved the book as well. In 1988 Harris wrote a sequel called SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. Some of the same characters and a new lead investigator. Both of these books featured a character named Hannibal Lector. Another movie follows, two more books follow and more movies.

DragonSo, here’s where we stand so far. I love the books RED DRAGON and SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. I really like the first part (the part in Italy) of HANNIBAL. After this the books lost my interest.
The movie MANHUNTER in my opinion is a groundbreaking film and very ahead of it’s time. One of the first to have a profiler catching a serial killer, and Mann really gave it a distinct look. I love William Peterson as Will Graham and Brian Cox as Lector is AMAZING. Dennis Farina as Jack Crawford is dam good too.
Silence of The Lambs, great movie, great cast, but a whole different feel. It’s cool, different but also great.

Hannibal come out as a film and like the book I find myself loving the parts in Italy, after Hannibal leave Italy I lose interest as the movie just goes off the rails. It’s like Harris forgot what he did with Clarice Starling in Lambs. RED DRAGON comes out and remakes Manhunter filling in a little pre story and after. Good film and Ed Norton was great. I like almost as much as MANHUNTER.

silenceOK. I prefer Brian Cox to Anthony Hopkins. I think Hopkins was just a bit too far over the top, especially post Lambs. But this is hours of great viewing with some really complex and interesting characters.

So naturally being good business people the folks who have the rights want to use the characters. A TV show is born, Brian Fuller as showrunner.

I’m skeptical as I read the plans for the show and then as reviews start coming I become curious. The show came out on DVD and I couldn’t NOT buy it. And as a fan who has read 4 books and watched 5 movies I’m a bit invested in this franchise.

A piece of info that will help understand the show: They plan 7 seasons, 3 before Red Dragon 1 for Red Dragon, 1 for Lambs, 1 for Hanniabl and then one post Hannibal to wrap it all up.

Hannibal-CastSo now, finally a review of the first season.

The basic rundown of set up is the show starts three years before the events in Red Dragon, and Will Graham is being brought into the fold to help on some cases. There are some concerns about his mental health and he is referred to a Doctor Lector to make sure he is fit and stays fit. Knowing what we know about Lector we notice him playing games a bit, but he is smooth and slick. He seems to be helping and in fact actually does. However he also is using these opportunities to do some of his own killing. Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lector is wonderful. He has a European look and accent that work perfectly. As Lector he is well mannered and cultured, so much so that when we see him commit acts of violence it is almost a surprise, which is shouldn’t be, but we fall under his spell as do everyone around him. A sign that they cast it well. Hugh Dancy as Will Graham is a bit more messed up than the Graham we have seen in films, and it works perfect. Doing what he does as well as he does should leave a scar on the psyche. Dancy manages to make it appear as though he is physically changing as he dances through various states of sanity. Jack Crawford has been played by some damn great actors so I was very critically watching Laurence Fishburne in the role. He nails it being the tough no nonsense agent in charge he needs to be but also being insightful and intelligent. He takes a few more risks here, but it’s untrodden ground at this point so seeing who Crawford is and knowing who he will be later is very interesting. They also introduce a new character, Caroline Dhavernas  (Wonderfalls) plays Dr. Angela Bloom who is both Will’s friend and confidant and perhaps a love interest. A very nice way to fill in the cast and gives a great perspective on the other characters. Gillian Anderson plays Bedelia Du Maurier who is giving therapy to Lector.

The cases they work are disturbing, some are reworkings of other cases, a few are new killers. They are all pretty messed up folks who are killing for a number of reasons. Some great performances by guest stars including a personal favorite of mine, Lance Hendrickson. We also see some victims of Lector which are only mentioned in passing in the films. It’s a lot of fun.

As the season progresses Will is having more and more trouble coping with what he sees when he profiles, going into the heads of killers is starting to unhinge him. Lector plays with this while making sure he keeps working cases. Eventually it gets pretty bad and by this point it is too late. The season ends with a real downbeat but also is setting us up for a hell of a ride in season 2.

I’m a fan of the franchise and love the characters in all their forms but so far this is my favorite portrayal on a screen. I can’t wait for season 2 !

Jon Jordan