You should be watching Hannibal.
Look, I will get to the details – but let’s get to the meat and potatoes first because it’s likely to be cancelled soon if more people don’t start getting a taste of it: Hannibal is USDA Prime, 5-Star horror television. We’re not talking mostly-reliable casual dining (see: The Following); or once-a-year, freaky fondue fun (American Horror Story). We’re talking about horror television with such blue blood that you feel the need to feast on it wearing your Sunday Brunch best.
Okay okay okay, enough with the food puns. You get the point – this is one of the classiest, sincerest, and most perfect television shows. And it’s a horror series on network tv.
Hannibal (NBC) is an expanded version of the origin story of famed film & book villain/anti-hero Hannibal Lecter. Please don’t stop reading – I realize how crazy this sounds, that there could be a serious, solemn, gory, dark, genius, and bewitching take on the Hannibal – Will Graham – Jack Crawford serial killer tale. As a lifelong fan of the books, I too was skeptical. How would they drag out the various connections over the course of years? How would Mads Mikkelsen be as the iconic character? And how could they truly pull off the grotesquely gorgeous serial murders on network television!?!
Oh, but they have pulled it off. The cast (including Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne as Lecter’s FBI stalwarts Will Graham and Jack Crawford) deftly handle dialog drowning in so much subtext and sub-subtext. Never has so much been said silently while so much is being said aloud – giving previous episodes instant re-watch value whenever a major plot point occurs. Hannibal as a series explores and expands Dr. Lecter’s original connection to Crawford and Graham – helping the FBI find serial killers. Bryan Fuller and his crack writing team weave many known elements of the Lecter story – Will Graham’s descent, slimy Dr. Chilton, Lecter’s patients, Freddie Lounds (now a hot, devious red-head to add some female characters to a decidedly male-heavy tale), and much more.
Including the gore. If you’re already a fan, then you know that the murders in the Thomas Harris novels are intense. No film has really done them service, yet all have certainly tried. Hannibal the series. . . does. And it does with disgusting gusto – shocking murders, grisly scenarios, and a permeating, eerie art design. Grossing your audience out is impressive on any network, but doing so in such a magnificent way that they can’t pull their eyes away is truly impressive. Mushrooms. *shudder*
Which brings us back to the heart of the matter – Hannibal is thrilling, shocking, beautiful, disgusting, macabre, and an altogether classy 8-course meal. This is the most actually-horrific horror television series in a long, long time. Watchable on that merit alone, it outdoes all competitors by taking itself, its viewers, and its origins seriously. This Hannibal has teeth.