Howdy ladies and gents, I return to the internet with my first live-action TV review in a while (the last one being Buffy season 2). Today’s review will be on the first season of Hannibal, a show I’ve only watched recently, but have really gotten into just in time for the start of season 2. So what do I think of this first season? Read on and find out!
So the story in this show in a nutshell goes something like this:
“Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter and his patient Will Graham, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.”
This season was full of interesting individual episodes, but it is when all the small aspects from those episodes are brought together for the larger narrative when things become so much more fascinating and entertaining. Like any good psychological thriller, the show was suspenseful, full of tension and did a lot to mess with your head and blur the line between reality and fiction, the writing is very clever and on numerous occasions I was either very confused, disgusted by what I was watching or feeling the crazy tension going on. I like how for the most part each episode felt relevant with a new case for the FBI to check that had a means of hooking you. While it took the show a bit before I really got into it properly, once a good few episodes had gone by I found myself getting intrigued and constantly curious about the nature of the main killer’s motives, Graham’s abilities and the number of murders. I don’t want to give anything away, but let’s just say things get deeper, more complex, dangerous and it all leads up to a very engaging finish.
When it comes to the cast they’re all very good. Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham is really good, Will has a very interesting set of skills and it is great to see things from his perspective and get inside his mind. Sometimes however I wish I couldn’t see some of the stuff in there because it is right creepy. Dancy does so well in this role as he plays a character so isolated, mentally strange and different from everyone else. For me the main star is Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Mikkelsen I mainly know from Casino Royale and he was really awesome in that film, but here he is on a new level of awesomeness. Here he plays such a straight man, always willing to help, well-versed food, drink and people, and yet he is danger. Hannibal is the bad guy hiding in plain sight and Mikkelsen does such a great job in his role as he is so subtle with his emotions, body language and able to portray a complicated character so well.
Laurence Fishburne as Special Agent-in-Charge Jack Crawford is another strong performance in this show, Jack is one tough guy, he like things done his way, likes to get results and doesn’t really care about how some people are affected by the cases he involves them in. Though for all his bravado he does have a heart and some of his own issues too and Fishburne does a wonderful job with a firm and commanding screen presence. Caroline Dhavernas is also good as Dr. Alana Bloom, a psychiatry professor and consultant profiler for the FBI, who has a professional relationship with both Graham and Lecter. I also really liked Hettienne Park as Special Agent Beverly Katz, Scott Thompson as Dr. Jimmy and Aaron Abrams as Brian Zeller were pretty good, but I don’t have much to say about them. The only other person I wanted to mention was Eddie Izzard as Dr. Abel Gideon, seeing Izzard in something so serious completely through me off the first time, it was so random, but he was very good all the same.
As for the presentation it is gorgeous. Firstly this is one of the most visually impressive TV shows I have seen, the show looks very cinematic and has a great level of detail and impressive camera work that makes everything stand out. The lighting is another thing that is very well done and really helps amplify the moody atmosphere. In addition to the great filming work, the use of CGI for the psychological and fictional-based aspects of the show is awesome and realistic. And obviously one can’t talk about the show without highlighting the violence, bloody hell this show has so much nasty and filthy things to show off with the killing and dead bodies, all of which comes in many shapes and forms which gets more and more ridiculous and grotesque. It all looks very gruesome and amazing, the make-up team should be commended too for some of this crazy work they pulled off here. Overall visually Hannibal it is right up there with HBO standard of TV like Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire in my opinion.
In conclusion the first season of Hannibal is a damn good show, while I wouldn’t put it in my TV show favourites of all-time, it definitely has the potential to get there. The slow pacing and lack of engaging plotlines in some episodes definitely knocks a few points off. That being said Hannibal is entertaining, complex and thought-provoking as hell. I can’t wait to see what goes down in season 2.
Rating: 8.5/10 (A great and creepy show full of blood, death and thought-provoking stories)