If you are not watching NBC’s HANNIBAL then I am sorry to say you are not a fan of television and should never talk about TV to any of your friends or family again (joking, but not really). Season 3 just kicked off after the agonisingly long ‘he-ate-us’, and the show remains as phenomenal as ever — you can check out my review of the premiere here — but for whatever reason not many are watching it, leading it to become a series that survives on critical praise alone.
There are a hundred reasons to take the time to indulge in the greatness that is HANNIBAL but here are five above all that should utterly convince those that don’t.
Mads Mikkelsen is outrageously good in the title role of Hannibal Lecter. I grew up watching the infamous Anthony Hopkins portrayal of the character and I, like many others, never thought anyone should touch the character again. Oh how wrong I was. Mads Mikkelsen is becoming iconic in the role, creating a fresh image of the cannibalistic doctor for new fans all around the world but also wiping Hopkins performance from my memory almost completely. He is that good. You can’t take your eyes of him. For much of the show he is the calm, strong, together presence throughout until occasions when he reveals his true, very exposed self, delivering an incredibly heartfelt performance.
It’s impossible to watch HANNIBAL without becoming obsessed with everything Mads does, he is so enigmatic, such a force of nature that if you a weren’t fan of his before, by the time you are done watching, you will have found a new favourite actor. Mads isn’t the only reason to watch HANNIBAL but he is one of the biggest, making the iconic character truly his own.
Even though the title of the show is HANNIBAL and for all intents and purposes the show is about Lecter, the star in the traditional sense of the word is undoubtedly Hugh Dancy‘s Will Graham. He is the heart of the show and the man we follow throughout the bloody and macabre world the show inhabits. It’s a nearly impossible task to come anywhere close to the work Mads is doing with an unquestionably more flamboyant character but somehow Dancy manages it. He is magnificent. It is very easy to root for Hannibal, he is so charismatic and charming, but Hugh’s performance is so raw, so engaging, that not only does he win the audience over time and time again but he even steals some of the attention from his on screen rival. The performance Dancy gives as the troubled FBI analyst is beautiful to behold, his chemistry with Mads is pretty much everything. If you come for Mad’s interpretation of Hannibal Lecter you will be hooked and absorbed by Hugh Dancy’s riveting portrayal of Will Graham, lost with him inside his madness.
Every word that comes from the mouth of one of Bryan Fuller’s (showrunner) characters is pure poetry. The dialogue crafted by himself and his team of master writers is at times breathtaking. So perfectly assembled, every beat in place, it flows off the tongue in such a profound and beautiful way it almost hurts. If I had to pick a favourite thing about the show it would probably be the writing. It’s astronomically good. This show is very talky, containing many scenes of Hannibal chatting with his many patients, including Will, but because of the quality of writing these scenes never drag, there are so many layers to be uncovered simply by listening to the minute subtleties of the characters dialogue. It really is something special. The writing in HANNIBAL is a rarity for an NBC drama these days and should make all other network series ashamed and then instantly inspired to up their game. HANNIBAL belongs on cable in all honesty, a reason why it’s numbers are so low, it would fit right in at HBO, AMC or Showtime. If you want to watch a show so meticulously worded, with a script that never drops the ball then you can do no better than HANNIBAL. Treat yourself self to a word-smiths delight.
Holy sh**, the visuals on this show are amazing. It’s cinematography at its very finest. An artist’s dream. I don’t know how they come up with some of the images on this show, let alone how they pull it off. From scenes of naked bodies wrapped around each other forming an eye ball, to rain fall mixed with glass that looks like crystals showering down from the sky, the guys behind the camera are true artists at work. TV is normally a writers format, all the set ups and visuals the same, they simply don’t have the time to be creative, Film is where the director takes centre stage, having the freedom to create striking images that wow an audience. However you can forget all that when it comes to HANNIBAL. I don’t know how they’ve done it. The 13 episodes a seasons probably help, but somehow they constantly unleash a dazzling visual treat for the viewer, expertly utilizing light, angles and whatever else they can to tell their story. Sometimes HANNIBAL becomes something of an art-house endeavour, its visuals would make many an indie director jealous and they make watching HANNIBAL each week must see TV.
That Season 2 Finale…
I was left in shock after last year’s Season 2 finale. I couldn’t believe what I had just witnessed. The build up all season had been meticulous, episode by episode racking up the tension and hurtling towards big events to come in the 13th episode but no one was expecting what was in store for us when we got there. It was immaculate. There is no other word for it. Everything that you thought it was going to be was wrong, everything that you wanted to happen was ignored and what we got was a sledge hammer to the gut, a force of incredible power that rampaged through the episodes entire length, bringing together all the best aspects of the show. Hugh had never been better, the writing… spectacular, the visuals… stunning, and Mads? Well goodness gracious, he was devastating. Everything that words means to you, that’s what he was in that episode. He turned Hannibal into something I never thought possible. This was the moment, this was the episode where HANNIBAL truly announced itself the rival of anything else on TV. When all was said and done you were left on the edge of your seat, jaw open, butt clenched and agonizing over the fact you had to wait another year for more of whatever it was you had just witnessed.
I shouldn’t have to tell you to watch HANNIBAL but unfortunately someone has to. So just do it. Go on. Go for it. I promise you, you won’t regret it.