When NBC first started airing promos for their upcoming show based on the Thomas Harris novels, including the Silence of the Lambs, I actually mistook them for movie trailers. They seemed far too graphic to possibly be on broadcast television. The trailers looked like something you'd see on HBO or AMC, but not a public channel with a weak stomach like NBC. Add that in with the idea that the show would be based on a franchise that had been effectively driven into the ground and you certainly didn't have a formula that looked promising.
Of course, as I watched more footage my curiosity grew. The show is lead by producer Bryan Fuller (Pushing Daisies) and several great actors like Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne and it shows. The performances are delightfully understated and real. This show oozes intensity and isn't for the faint of heart.
For those who don't know, the show follows the blooming relationship between Will Graham (Dancy) and Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen). Graham works for the FBI on a part time basis and helps profile some of the most creative and grizzly murders in TV history. The scenes of horror are almost artistic in Hannibal. Beautifully horrible, if you will.
Graham has what Hannibal describes as "perfect empathy" and can assume the mindset of anyone, or any killer. He literally enters their mind and sees and feels what they feel. This process, however, takes a toll on Graham's psyche. It's as if he losses a bit of himself each time. Still yet, he feels compelled to do so to save lives. He comes across fragile, yet fiercely defiant at times.
Dr. Lecter is called in as Will's psychiatrist to examine him and confirm that he is able to do this job without losing his mind. Lecter is a former medical doctor who claims he quit when he lost a patient that rocked him especially hard. He is always finely dressed, polite and even kind. You'll like him.
Each week we follow Will as he chases a killer, all the while becoming more broken as Hannibal watches. Will has no idea that a prolific killer has befriended him in Hannibal. The subtlety with which Hannibal is shown to us is enticing. We rarely see him as a monster, but rather as a likable gentlemen. This makes the glimpses beneath his "human suit" all the more jarring and tense. Shots of him doing the terrible things he does are brief and shot in a way that makes them almost beautiful.
No piece of dialog seems needless and almost every scene has ramifications that ripple outward. Hannibal is truly a special show with a special cast that really shouldn't be missed.
Season 1 of Hannibal is currently exclusive to Amazon instant and season 2 is ongoing.