In order to compete with AMC’s The Walking Dead, NBC digs deep to find violent material. They find their source material in an unlikely place: Thomas Harris’ novels.
Hannibal aired on April 4, 2013.
Making the Hannibal story a serial drama is a real roll of the dice for NBC. Most of the audience watching this show will be familiar with the cannibal’s story, so the writers were forced to rewrite elements from Harris’ Red Dragon novel to connect the dots between Lecter’s killing spree, Lecter’s attack on FBI profiler Will Graham and Lecter’s incarceration.
Hannibal tells the story of Red Dragon’s Will Graham, a troubled profiler with a gift for understanding serial killers. The plot of the show is hauntingly familiar to the plot of The Silence of the Lambs. Just as Lecter helps Clarice Starling track down and arrest the Buffalo Bill killer, the Hannibal character in this serial adaptation helps Will Graham confront his own personal demons and track down elusive serial killers.
Lecter is brought to life brilliantly in Hannibal. Danish actor Mads Mikkelson, most easily recognized for his role in the Daniel Craig James Bond reboot Casino Royale as Le Chiffre, pulls off what could potentially prove to be an abysmal failure: capturing Hannibal the Cannibal.
Mikkelson does not try to imitate Anthony Hopkins’ eccentric version of the character from The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon films. Instead, Mikkelson brings a delightfully chilling quality to the character. Mikkelson’s Lecter is serious, cunning, quiet and seemingly compulsively manipulative.
The narrative picks up before the storyline in Red Dragon, Thomas Harris’ first novel depicting Lecter. In the series, Lecter is a working as a therapist. There are clever suggestions of his cannibalism (constantly cutting the camera to his food, for example), but nothing is ever overtly stated.
The show progresses extremely quickly, and unfortunately it can leave some viewers confused and bewildered.
NBC has ordered thirteen episodes of Hannibal. The third episode will air on April 18.
Hannibal airs on Thursday nights at 10 p.m.