Before I go into detail I have to tell you all one thing about the Hannibal TV show – its intensely stupid. And I mean extremely stupid. Its a show that is ostensibly about very clever people saying intelligent things to each-other but this falls down when you realise – every character (apart from Hannibal) is a total moron. Now that I’ve slandered the intelligence of the show it might come as a surprise to you that I really like it. (it helps if you’re drunk. Take one shot every-time someone say the name ‘Abigail Hobbs’ and you might end up in hospital)
Hannibal is set before all of the movies based on the books of Thomas Harris. This is before Manhunter and Silence of the Lambs. Hannibal Lecter is a top psychiatrist who the FBI call in to provide therapy to Will Graham, their best criminal profiler. From here we’re treated to the most screwed up bromance you’ll witness all year. I won’t spoil the details of the show as most of its charm is based around some intensely shocking and gory scenes. Apparently in this part of the US all of the serial killers are totally twisted and can’t just murder people in the normal way. In my day, you would strangle or if it was a special occasion decapitate a victim but in Hannibal you’re more likely to be made into a doll, or an angel, or a tree.
The other huge selling point of the programme is the man himself. Played by Mads Mikkelsen, he’s a different beast from Anthony Hopkins creepy killer with a penchant for dramatic flair. Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is cold,calculating, smart, distant, all at once. Oh, and he eats people. When Lecter is on screen the show comes alive. He holds all of the attention with just a look or a smile. He is sparse with the chat but when he speaks you get chills down your spine. His good-guy counterpart Will Graham is played by Hugh Dancy who chews the scenery in one of the most hammy, unsubtle performances I’ve ever seen. Every tick, or thought, or fear is broadcast as loudly as possible by Dancy although he thankfully dials it down in season 2. This over-acting serves to make Mikkelsen even more watchable as seeing his understated style can be relaxing after Dancy sweats his way though another line.
So why did I call the show ‘intensely stupid’? Well that’s mainly due to the fact that Lecter is obviously a creepy serial killer but somehow none of these supposedly highly trained profilers suspects a thing. Hannibal constantly talks about food, knows too much about the murder spree and people around him keep disappearing. Plus he’s European, you know how weird us guys are. Despite this lack of intelligence Hannibal is good campy fun that provides many unintentionally funny scenes. If you don’t take it seriously there’s a lot of enjoyment to be had. Maybe if the makers were more self-aware they could embrace the silliness and go crazy with it but right now it a ridiculous show with a mesmerising central performance. Just don’t expect psychological sophistication.
Are you a Hannibal fan? Do you agree with my view of the show? Have you ever eaten human flesh? Let me know in the comments below. Bon appetite!