Leftridge: TV Time: Is Hannibal Doing Anything for Anybody?

cast-hannibal-nbc-550Are you all watching NBC’s Hannibal? I’m not. Well, I suppose I am—technically—but only in arrears thorough Time Warner’s “On Demand!” and only at the continual insistence of someone from Facebook. (You know—the person who loves and trumpets something loudly, and you listen because you trust this person’s opinion on things related to entertainment? Yeah, that.)

The things is, I’m four episodes in and it’s just not grabbing me by my (eye)balls and compelling me to watch more. It’s not bad, really, it’s just… okay.

For those who’ve been out of the loop since, oh, say, 1991 or so, Hannibal is about Dr. Hannibal Lecter, who was made famous in the psycho-horror-thriller classic Silence of the Lambs. Even before THAT, actually, Lecter was the antihero in Thomas Harris novels such as Red Dragon, the aforementioned Lambs, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising (the first title providing primary impetus for the television show).

hannibal_nbcAs much as the show—and Red Dragon itself—is about the cannibalistic Dr. Lecter and his asshole-ish habit of killing and eating people, it is as equally the tale of Aspergerian FBI profiler Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy) who has the remarkable telepathic ability to place himself into the mind of the killer—you know when this is happening because the screen gets orange and flashes and stuff!—in order to solve the grisly crimes.

And boy, are these crimes fucking grisly. 

It’s amazing what NBC shows in primetime on Hannibal, and be VERY forewarned that if you don’t like seeing people decomposing into fungus, or people filleted and posed with their back-skin flaps suspended to resemble angel wings, you probably won’t get much out of this show. Lots of blood and veins and bones, and not in simple, passing glances, either.

Anyway, the first couple of episodes focus on Graham coming back into the field after being convinced to do so by Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), head of the FBI’s Behavioral Sciences division. The ol’ Bureau (as nobody calls it) needs help solving some awful butcherings that primarily seem to be affecting good looking, young college girls (the worst kind of victim if you’re hoping to go unnoticed). Turns out it was this one guy, and he was doing it to protect his daughter (?), and then Graham and Crawford and Lecter (the good doc having been brought in as a consultant to practice psychiatry on Graham on account of Graham’s fucked-uppedness) locate him and shit gets bloody and the good guys win.

But did the guy’s daughter KNOW about her dad’s chicanery?

Is SHE evil too?

When it cuts to shots of Lecter having dinner with Jack Crawford, is he feeding Crawford human meat?

Why is Lecter around all the time, anyway? Is that protocol?

Do all FBI agents get their own personal psychiatrist?

If it’s modern day, why is Dr. Face-Eater dressed like a 1960’s hot tub salesman?

Can’t they just kill off the tabloid journalist bitch already? (It’s bound to happen EVENTUALLY, one would presume.)

And therein lies the rub. It’s a busy storyboard full of under-developed characters and storylines that seem to come and go, and perhaps ebb when they should be flowing. You don’t care about any of these people, really.

To flesh out thin characters, the writers insist on providing empty, uninteresting back-stories—I really don’t care about Director Crawford’s marital issues—and leave (perhaps intentionally?) large gaps on important matters. It’s the kind of show that provides a lot more questions than answers, and that’d be fine if I cared enough to invest the time necessary to figure it all out.

But I don’t.

It’s like Dexter, only without the acting, writing and general enjoyability.

Don’t get me wrong, the gore is great—I’m a pervert for that kind of thing—and visually, the show is shot very well, with lots of arresting landscapes and excellent color interpolations.

justhanBut the writing is flat, I can’t understand a word Mads Mikkelsen’s Lecter is saying, and anytime there’s a scene in the psychiatrist’s office between two characters, I feel like I’m watching some weird high school play that I didn’t want to attend in the first place.

That said, I’ll keep watching. Why? Because The Walking Dead won’t be back for several months, ditto The Americans, ditto American Horror Story, ditto Justified.

Anyone know when Hell on Wheels is back? I kind of liked that.


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15 Responses to Leftridge: TV Time: Is Hannibal Doing Anything for Anybody?

  1. Orphan of the Road says:

    I’ve used it to put me to sleep several nights. Bates Motel, Lake at the Top, all rank up there as great snooze inducers.

    Longmire is back soon (sort of Justified without the centuries of intertwined families). Interesting point-of-contention being Native vs US law and the boundries which have to be crossed.

    The Following was all gore too. Some writing but mostly slash and bleed.

    Thankfully Hulu has The Rockford Files.

    • I’ll have to check Longmire out, maybe. Channel?

      Didn’t give Bates Motel a chance, and from everything I’ve heard, that was probably a smart move.

      • Orphan of the Road says:

        A&E I’m a sucker for Big Sky & mystery, Longmire scratches part of that itch.

  2. smartman says:

    No Sir Phillip Anthony Hopkins, no Hannibal. Sorry that’s just the way it is. What’s next, Michael Chiklis in The King and I?

    If you’re into gore you can sign up and get on a list for conjugal visits with Jodi Arias.

  3. cheech lifting weights says:

    The best new show on TV is Legit on FX.

    Well written, funny and surprisingly touching.

    I know this is heresy but I enjoyed season 1 of Legit more than season 1 of Louie.

  4. chuck says:

    Gotta tell ya, with all due respect, I love the fu*kin guy.

    Creepy as hell.

    James Bond villains travel imo.

    Mads Mikkelsen cuts the fu*kin ice and carries the show, ……imo.

    His understated, by way of script and talent, protrayal of Lecter, with respect to the novels and movies, elevates and embelishes a character so very popular and abhorred.

    Mads Mikkelsen’s understated genius in this role in combination with his oeurve will, in short order, catapult him to Academy Award acknowledgement.

    Yes. I said that.

    Mads has been a charater actor.

    Character actors, now, are, sans reality TV, the only hope for the ascendancy of a talent that, like Madds, who can transcend predictable and pathetic writers, now sucking C**k for a paychek.

    In my opinion, you underestimate the actor, he mesmerises.

  5. Super Dave says:

    Just another copy cat attempt by broadcast TV to rip off some decent movies at which they will and are failing. Putting up great actors against poor writing still makes for a boring show. I would say Mash was a one of a kind experiment that worked only because the TV version of it never varied from the movie story line but was all fresh stories. This show is taking to much from the Hannibal movies and trying to copy it.

    • chuck says:

      Come on Dave, the guy is so understated, like Gosling in “Drive” and Javer Bardem in “No County For Old Men”.

      He is really creepy, malevolent and unsettling, or that could be last night’s fish.

      I like the show.


      • Super Dave says:

        Oh I think Mads Mikkelsen is an awesome actor in the right role. This TV abortion of Hannibal isn’t it.

        No County For Old Men was a great dark movie IMO. Javer did his role perfect.

  6. OlatheCat says:

    I’ve tried three or four times to give it a shot and I just can’t. It’s an awful, awful show. I love the Hannibal movies and novels, but this show just plain sucks.

  7. PV_Pathfinder says:

    Instead of spending 2 hours on a Lector TV show that’s eventually going to get canned (or worse, relegated to Friday nights), track down Michael Mann’s Manhunter. It’s Hollywood’s first attempt to bring Red Dragon to the big screen. Mann is at his mid 80’s best and the movie has a nice, creepy mean streak to it. It’s been re-cut for TV about a million times, so keep your eyes peeled for the theatrical release or director’s cut. Silence of the Lambs may be the best adaptation of Harris’ work on the big screen, but Manhunter is a CLOSE second and one of the first entries into the now beleaguered Brilliant Serial Killer genre.

    • Super Dave says:

      You are very right Mann’s version is a must see. And as with any Mann movie the soundtrack was awesome.

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