Thursday, April 4, 2013

'Hannibal' Premiere Review - 1.01 Apéritif

        On the series premiere of NBC's Hannibal, Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) recruits Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a gifted criminal profiler with a unique view into the psyche of serial killers, and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen), a brilliant psychiatrist but a crafty serial killer and cannibal, to consult with the FBI on a case of disappearing college girls.

        In a season that has given us The Following on FOX and Bates Motel on A&E - not to mention the well-established serial killer hits in CBS' Criminal Minds and Showtime's Dexter - why should we be excited by the prospect of yet another series with the exact same themes entering the market. Well, that show is Hannibal on NBC created by Bryan Fuller and starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne. It is also the best of the three new series entering the fold because it understands the mechanics of the genre and accurately applies the psychologic elements of the reactions of those closest to death. Violence is not simply used as a plot device to move the story and characters threw the motions. Here it is a very visceral thing. Hugh Dancy's leading man Will Graham can literally step into the shoes of the serial killers he is analyzing and his mindset and the toil that this environment has on him is truly the most captivating and enrapturing thing put forth in this first hour alone. Seeing as how the show is called Hannibal, one would think that Mikkelsen's titular character would be the leading performance. On the contrary, he is a supporting player to the tale of Graham and the relationship between the two is wonderfully unique and a great twist to the genre. It is a cat-and-mouse kind of game between the two personalities but it is so obtuse as one being on the side of good and the other of side of evil. Dr. Hannibal Lector is evilly devilish but he masterfully and calmly puts up a great front of existence. Will Graham can solve these heinous crimes with his exceptional imagination but at the cost of his own sanity. That dichotomy is marvelous in that it fills out this world and these characters exceptionally well to open up them out to honest and realistic conversations without being thrown through the hurdles of plot mechanics. 
        Hannibal is clearly NBC's last chance at a programming success this broadcast season and it makes one helluva entrance. It is leaps and bounds better and more intellectual and thought-provoking than anything else from this developmental season - on possibly any of the broadcast networks. Unfortunately, creative genius is not enough to equal ratings success in this business. Thursdays at 10 has been the death slot for NBC ever since ER left the airwaves in 2009. Going against tough competition in ABC's Scandal and CBS' Elementary, this show's fate may be over before it truly starts due to the network's failings in generate honest and consistent ratings. It has the critical admiration to last for a long time but will it have the same feeling amongst the mass population. The premiere episode was visually stunning, exceptionally written and beautifully acted but will it resonate with a solid audience. That is the question that will hopefully be answered soon. I've stated my opinion and I truly want it to last and be a success but realistically it is very much up in the air unfortunately.

So what did everyone think of the premiere? Will you tune in next week? Did the series peak your interest or live up to all the hype? Shouldn't David Slade direct more television? What did you think of Mikkelsen's more understated Hannibal? Share your thoughts in the comments.