Thursday saw the premiere episode of NBC's new series, Hannibal. Directed by Bryan Fuller, based on the novels by Thomas Harris and following in the footsteps of filmic adaptations such as Manhunter and The Silence of the Lambs, we are now treated to a televisual adaptation. A prequel, one in which we see the delights of Dr. Hannibal Lecter before his trip to Baltimore State Hospital for the Criminally Insane. We see him as a psychiatrist (... with a very nice office), a 'friend' to Will Graham (a relationship that inevitably turns sour) and we see him eat... a lot. I will tell you now, it is nice to have such a worryingly charming cannibalistic psychopath back on our screens.
The first episode begins straight in the middle of a crime scene, introducing us to Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), an FBI criminal profiler. A man whom, we instantly become aware, has a mental ability to remove himself from the crime scene and into the shoes of the killer. This dark transition of empathy frequently haunts Will (symptoms include a profuse amount of sweating) and is no doubt responsible for his socially awkward sensibility. Unfortunately or not for him, it also means he is highly sought after in order to aid a new FBI investigation, one in which eight girls have gone missing. Will is recruited by Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) in the hope that his special skills will help solve the case. His struggle to create a profile for the suspected "sensitive psychopath" causes Special Agent Crawford to hire forensic psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). As the episode develops, Dr. Lecter's interest in the case and Will becomes increasingly evident, so too does his penchant for eating human organs. Lungs anyone?
The first thing to say about this episode, and hopefully the rest of the series, is how wonderfully stylistic it is. In particular, the cinematography during Will's frequent transgressions into psychopathic territory is a wonderful platform to showcase technical flair and gory imagery. It immerses us deep into the dark realms of human psychosis, consistently effective with sequences short and intermittent.
It is also great to see that there is no hanging around plot-wise. We have skipped the starter and headed straight for the main course. No time is taken in hiding the fact that Dr. Lecter is a cannibalistic killer. Conversely, it's flaunted. Preparing human lungs then frying them in a pan? You cannot get more obvious than that. Dr. Lecter and Will's relationship is also swiftly interjected. A wonderful sequence in which both converse over breakfast (including questionable sausage) is a nice taster to their relationship dynamic, one of psychological evaluation and latent commonalities. I look forward to its progression.
Hugh Dancy performs well as Will, cleverly contrasting awkward social outcast and empathetic killer. Mads Mikkelsen lives up to expectations as Dr. Lecter, providing that sheer magnetism required. Laurence Fishburne is well... Laurence Fishburne. Always a joy to watch.
All in all a thoroughly enjoyable first episode, teasing my appetite for what will hopefully be deliciously thrilling entertainment.
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