"HANNIBAL" (2013-) TV Series, Season 1

Based on characters from 'Red Dragon' Novel by Thomas Harris

Developed by Bryan Fuller

Written by Bryan Fuller, Chris Brancato, Steve Lightfoot, Scott Nimerfro, Jennifer Schuur

Starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Laurence Fishburne

Premiered on NBC (USA) April 4, 2013

                                                             Review by Warrick Fraser

So, another remake, huh? Well, no. Sort of. An imagining of certain past elements within it's fictional world.

And surprisingly, like only some modern day screenplays in our far too short-term transitional culture, it has

gathered interest with it's first season strength, uniqueness & visual style.

Firstly, the only reason I decided to pursue this series (I am picky with my limited time & entertainment) was the developer Bryan Fuller's discussion of characters in his abled hands, being influenced by the creative whack of David Lynch & Stanley Kubrick's sensibilities. Sounds damn good to me!

With apparently strong ties to the original book's characters & homage to the films, beginning with the classic 'Silence of the Lambs' with Anthony Hopkins defining the centre Hannibal character. An almost unlimited brilliance in psychological & forensic criminology, classical culture & culinary prowess, mirrored by an insatiable serial killing & cannibalism. Unlike the movie series pop cultural acclaim though, this is not fan-boy art, but something much more disturbing. And not an anti-hero myth.

Jonathan Demme's 1991 movie was a huge success.

This series continues a high benchmark with some similar  ingredients.

Including good casting, defined script & particular cinematographic style.

It is promising something for all fans & newer ones.

This Hannibal is completely different & yet familiar with his precise & deadly manner.

The main players are all there, some enhanced further.

Agent Will Graham has now a complete array of neurosis that give the gift of

perfect profiling at the cost of null social aptitude & residing nightmares.

Dr Alana Bloom is another clever consultant, fascinated by both Will & Hannibal.

Jack Crawford, Special Agent-in-charge with Laurence Fishburne, in the role

whose strong confidence wanes in light of his wife's cancer reveal.

The slimy male role of journalist Freddie Lounds has swapped with an attractive,

smart & deceptive woman. The deceased father & troubled daughter of the

Hobb's family introduces recurring visions for Will & a possible protege or nemesis

setup for Hannibal. This appears as an obvious sister-brother or father-daughter

connection with some future payoff. But in one of many signs that all things are

frail & susceptible in the longer story arcs, we are to be consistently deceived by

the centre character’s manipulations.

Here, Hannibal is a calm & extremely focused, gently European, apex predator type.

With exactly the subtext of the Anthony Hopkin's version & I would assume the book's,

Mads Mikkelsen is in control of his interpretation, even with the occasional alluding to

phrases within the film series. More charming & elegant, less shakespearean.

All viperous killer in perfect camouflage. Manipulation par excellence.

And will his fascinating past be revealed? The prequel movie 'Hannibal Rising', with all

of it's euro-flair & exotic gesturing to suggest something of Hannibal's much younger

mind, may play some of it's parts into this story. That is somewhat suggested.

I do hope so. A film of mixed reviews but is one of my favourites as an origin story.

The visual style has borrowed a little from Demme's film, similar facial framing,

producing more intimate connections in context. Kubrick influence is seen

again with the architectural & classical perspective lining throughout.

Added to this is the occasional mushy sub-lighting & the unusual

'high-dynamic-range' visceral texture, similar to Scorsese's Shutter Island.

This may be a purposeful reflection from Hannibal's mind into the world.

Like his psyche probing is always prominent & colours the viewers view.

Hidden within it hints Hannibal’s human weakness.

For all the ample elaborate written reviews & curious praise of the fictional

centre character's macabre machinations & motivations, there is only

one thing at play here. Hannibal's grand game. An insidious design to

fashion & exholt his deepest nature. Beginning with his role as psychiatrist

reaching into the void of surrounding humanity. Crafting all things. To justify.

Cerebral pacing at the start of the series is deliberately a little atonal, mostly slow burning with small injections of surreal grey dreamscapes. Powerfully subtle & obviously well written text slowly draws the viewer in. Sometimes in that indulgent zen momentum, you may miss the full array of plot points. Despite the long-drawn Kubrickian dramatic beats. A subconscious hypnosis is not so subtly being applied.

A needed hint  of blackened humour may be rare moment for viewers, unless future writing continues with new twists & added styles. Reminds me of the stark 1990's series 'Millennium'. This is above all Horror Fiction, framed within a psychological thriller & police drama.

The acquired taste expected from a deliciously morbid curiosity of this dark subject matter. Although the show’s potential may also lie in creating new concoctions of empathy where before there was something else.

The original score by Brian Reitzell is one of my favourite touches to this grim tale.

Those deep undertones that reside in our subconscious fears arise throughout

& are displaced by beautiful flourishes, splashes & prickly notes. The score of

American Beauty came to mind. Themes of personas become apparent as

effective waves of alter-ego secrets hidden within those personalities.

More sound designs recognised than actual musical, a delight to my ears that

really enhance this story & demand intense internal meanderings. Full marks!

Although I am enjoying it, the heavy theme of inevitable extreme murder may

attempt to convolute itself forever. And yet already it seems the scope & possibility

of this show may surprise. Due to high expectations from the original novel & the

first Demme movie, the writers have no doubt plotted future events to accommodate

& project beyond my amateur opinions.

I have always loved the darker trends in fictional drama in the last 2 decades. And yet, I cannot help to also feel these trends

are becoming too dark & desolate to remain relevant to any hopeful trajectory within the longer arc of a modern mythology.

As a whole, the show would benefit greatly from less bloody graphic depictions & more impressionism.

The other elements are all there to assist. And with the established style & influences could rely on more imaginative suggestion alone.

What is the compulsion to view aberrant degradation with

no spiritual lesson unfolded as payment to the ferryman?

I know. It's only a Tv show.

But how we love to drown our curiosity when we we forget

to breath in naive wonder into the shadows.