Hannibal: a television delicacy


Holy cow! I have let my TV reviews slip in a big way. I got so preoccupied with my blog series, premiere episodes, and movie stuff that I haven’t done a review of a whole show since September…Whoopsie. But I’m back to it now, and I’m actually hoping to knock out several reviews of my favorite TV shows over the next few weeks. As loyal readers may or may not know, I like putting my TV reviews into neat little themes like British Invasion and Grown-Up Fantasy. For crime/scary shows, I’m introducing a new theme: Chills and Thrills. And what better chilling and thrilling show to start with than NBC’s Hannibal?

I decided to review this show for a few reasons: 1) I’m apparently on a Mads Mikkelsen kick (I just reviewed The Hunt for Alex Raphael’s Foreign Favorites series, and you can view that write-up here), 2) season two of this show premieres on Friday (Feb. 28), and 3) it’s just awesome. I’ll admit that I had doubts about Hannibal when I initially heard about it—how the original stories would work as a TV series, how the main protagonist would stand out against the million protagonists in the million other murder shows out there, how anyone could possibly attempt to equal Sir Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, etc.—but after watching the first season last year, my fears were assuaged. It has become a must-watch.

Synopsis: “Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.” Borrowed from my favorite movie site, IMDb.

hannibal 1

The Good: Saying “everything” would be gushing a little too much, yeah? Right from the get-go, this show has style—a very macabre, twisted style, but style no less. Much like Hannibal himself, the show as a whole is both gruesome and sophisticated, which is an absolutely fascinating combination. Speaking of Dr. Lecter, have I mentioned how awesome Mads Mikkelsen is at portraying him? He oozes cool, clever, and menacing. It’s a very different interpretation than Hopkins in that his class is played up more than his creepiness, but it’s no less effective as the show does a great job of implying (and occasionally showing) what Hannibal has been up to. This is done particularly well through his cooking, which looks quite mouth-watering until you remember what’s in it. I could go on forever about Hannibal, but honestly the character who really took me by surprise in season one was profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). It’s hard to make a character as interesting as Hannibal Lecter, but Will measures up quite well. He can see crime scenes in a way no one else can (which is shown in a really cool way), but he suffers from it. Spending too much time in serial killers’ heads gets him all kinds of messed up, and you feel for him as his over-active imagination takes a toll on his well-being. Dancy makes oddball Will downright lovable throughout the season. Mikkelsen and Dancy are undoubtedly the stars, but the whole cast is fantastic, particularly Laurence Fishburne as Will’s boss, Jack Crawford, and Caroline Dhavernas as Will’s colleague, Dr. Alana Bloom. My compliments to the writers as well. The dialogue is crisp, each episode is engaging, and the murders are really unique (and severely twisted). The whole look and feel of the show is dark and disturbing, yet weirdly beautiful. To me, it’s unlike any other crime drama on television.

Favorite moment: The very last moment of season one. It presents an interesting role reversal that makes you eager for more.

Will Graham takes in stray doggies. It's kind of adorable.

Will Graham takes in stray doggies. It’s kind of adorable.

The Bad: In regards to violence, this show is dangerously close to being HBO-esque. The murder scenes are…well, pretty messed up. I don’t want to ruin the gruesome surprises for anyone planning to watch the show, but let’s just say the writers come up with some very creative ways for serial killers to kill. It’s done in a tasteful enough way that I could still watch (I’m a wuss when it comes to gross-out gore), but be wary, ye faint of heart. After the first few episodes—particularly the second one—you’ll probably know how you feel about it. Other than that, it’s probably worth mentioning that I’ve seen some reviewers describe this show as taking itself too seriously and/or coming off as slightly farcical. Given the show’s style and subject matter, I can see how they feel that way, but I very rarely (if ever) felt that way about season one. Right now, my biggest concern involves how next season will be handled. Though it has an awesome finale, season one covers a lot of ground and leaves you wondering how the heck they’re going to handle certain aspects of the plot in the future. But I trust the writers, so I’m anxious to see what they do.

Least favorite moment: There’s a very random moment in season one when Hannibal gives a certain character hallucinogenic tea, and it’s not really clear why. Does he genuinely think it will help this person? Is he doing it for his own amusement? Either way, it seems somewhat out of character.

To Sum It Up: In my opinion, this show is incredibly well-done. The story, the performances, the design—all of it is great. It might be a little too heavy for younger viewers and/or the faint of heart, but if you like your murder shows with an air of sophistication (and cannibalism), then I whole-heartedly recommend Hannibal.

My Grade: A

41 thoughts on “Hannibal: a television delicacy

  1. Great to see this reviewed. I can’t wait for the second series. i’d forgotten the hallucinogenic tea. Did seem odd looking back at it. The deaths are gruesome, but they do have flair. It’s a dark show but I love it. The two main stars are magnificent. Wow Wow Wow.

    • Yeah the hallucinogenic today is pretty random. But if that’s one of the only things I have to pick on, it’s a testament to how awesome the show is. 🙂 So glad you like this one, too!

  2. I had a friend at University, who used to put this on, while she ate her dinner every evening and I was like: How?! I could not eat, while watching Hannibal eating. *shudders.

  3. Great review of the series. Like you said Mads Mikkelson is great but its Hugh Dancy who took me by surprise and showed what a great actor he is. I thought Will would be boring but he’s really interesting and sympathetic.

  4. I’ve been looking for a new series to watch – I binged on House of Cards season 2, and I’m waiting for GoT and OITNB. I only get a weekly fix of True Detective and Walking Dead, so I need something to fill out. I think this just might be the ticket!! Thanks so much for this and all your posts. 🙂 Are you caught up on True Detective yet??

    • I have one more episode before I’m all caught up on True Detective! I’m excited to see what happens next! I haven’t seen House of Cards or Orange Is the New Black, but I’ve heard both are awesome. I do love Game of Thrones though. Have you seen the most recent season? If not…prepare yourself. Lol. I need to catch up on The Walking Dead, too. I’ve only seen the first season…

      • I can’t wait for you to see ep 6 in True Detective. 🙂 Oh Cara, you simply must watch both of those – super awesome series. I’m all caught up on GoT so waiting for April 6th!! Yes, I loved season 6 – red wedding anyone?? Best scene ever. Oh yes, Walking Dead gets way better the further into seasons you get. In my opinion anyway.

        • Oh God the Red Wedding…brutal, but also so good. I’ve heard that The Walking Dead gets better, so I’m looking forward to that…whenever I get around to it. Haha. I hope to watch that last episode of True Detective very soon (possibly even tonight). Who knows when I’ll get around to those other series, but they are on my list. I’m actually hoping to make Orphan Black my next binge watch!

  5. I agree, season one was brilliant. Loved the style, the intricate story threads, the characters – the overall presentation and execution essentially. And that final season one moment you’re talking about: hair, neck, stand up. Looking forward to season two, though i’m sure it’ll be May or something before it airs over here! Great review Cara!


  6. Excellent write-up, fantastic series. Eagerly anticipating season two; hoping the show maintains this level of quality (and doesn’t get cancelled anytime soon!).

    • Thanks, Dave! Yeah, I would be thoroughly disappointed if this were cancelled, but I am the slightest bit worried since they moved it from Thursday night to Friday night…we’ll see how it goes. Fingers crossed things go well!

  7. I freaking LOVE this show, it is bloody excellent!

    Absolutely loved the write up. And no, not gushing when “nothing” is wrong with it, it is just the truth. I think Mads Mikkelsen was phenomenally cast, even though he plays a much more openly dark Hannibal than Anthony Hopkins did, but never fear, it works. I know this sounds awful, but one of the things I love about the show is how they don’t hold back with the crime scenes. This show just came out of nowhere and got me hooked. Starting Friday eh? Still trying to hear when it starts up here…

    • Zoe, I’m with you on the crime scenes–so messed up, but also very cool. The one that stands out the most to me is the angel one. “Eek” and “eww” and “wow” all at once. I hope you hear about the premiere date there soon! I hate that you have to wait. :/

      • Yeah that angel one was intense. I also thought that mushroom patch one was pretty disturbing. Like wtf right?! I also laughed (though I probably shouldn’t have) when he riffles through his recipe box the night of the big dinner as well as the business cards to find the relevant ingredients. It was sick, but it was put in so flawlessly… loved it.

        I am sure it will be soon, I am all over this! I will probably only watch it when it is all done though, I HATE waiting a week for every episode!

        • Yeah the mushroom one CREEPED ME OUT. Especially when that one person was still alive…eeep! And the recipe/business card stuff is great. I’m wondering if that’s something from the novels or if it’s something they made up themselves. I don’t blame you for waiting. The long stretch between episodes can drive you crazy. :/

        • Man that was a totally screwed episode. I love the psychological aspect to it all (ties in nicely with my studies). Ah, I thought it was very well done. Well, there was none of that recipe stuff like it was shown in the series in the Red Dragon book (that they say the first season is based on), but I am going to read the rest of the books soon, so I will get back to you as to whether Harris wrote it like that or it was a stroke of genius on the show’s behalf!

          I just can’t do it. I try, but I can’t. So I record and then go back later and just veg out and catch up!

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