‘Hannibal’ comes to dinner

slide_281040_2167887_free

by EMILY CLANCE, A&E Editor

In 1981, former journalist Thomas Harris wrote a novel called “Red Dragon” and introduced the unforgettable character of Hannibal Lecter, the cannibal psychiatrist that has gone on to become one of the most well-known villains in modern media. Lecter has been featured in five movies, but his latest appearance on the screen is not in another film, but on TV.

NBC premiered “Hannibal” this past April to mostly positive reviews. The show’s first season takes place before the events of “Red Dragon,” a time period only briefly touched on in both the movie and in Harris’ original book.

Starring Hugh Dancy as Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter himself, the show watches as Graham returns to work for the FBI in order to catch serial killers.

Graham has the ability to completely empathize with the killers and get inside their minds to learn their motives and methods. This takes a massive psychological toll on him, and he begins having panic attacks and hallucinations.

As his psychiatrist, Lecter’s job is to help Graham cope with the atrocities he faces on a daily basis. Instead, he chooses to manipulate Graham and torment him further, purely for his own amusement.

The fact that Lecter is also a cannibal has yet to be discovered by the characters.

The show’s cinematography is breathtaking and reminiscent of shows such as FX’s “American Horror Story.” Though the camera doesn’t often shy away from showing gore, it’s done in an artful way and not just for the shock factor.

Mikkelsen’s performance as Lecter is both chilling and hypnotizing. No matter how terrible his actions are, from killing and cooking people  he considers rude to mentally torturing Will Graham, you just can’t look away.

Likewise, Dancy performs his character perfectly as well. Throughout the show’s first season, viewers watch Graham go from an awkward and troubled man to one who is questioning his sanity at every turn. He doubts those who say they are his friends, only trusting the man who is causing all of his problems.

Supporting cast members include Laurence Fishburne as FBI agent Jack Crawford, former star of “The X-Files” Gillian Anderson as Lecter’s psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier and Lara Jean Chorostecki as the much-hated tabloid reporter Freddie Lounds.

Showrunner Bryan Fuller, who also created the short-lived “Pushing Daisies,” has said that he wants to tell the full Hannibal Lecter story, from “Red Dragon” through “The Silence of the Lambs” and “Hannibal,” and viewers are more than willing to watch.

Though ratings were low enough to make the show’s cast, crew and fanbase worried that it wouldn’t last, fan-run campaigns on the Internet helped drive the numbers up enough for NBC to renew the show for a second season at the end of May.

If you’re searching for a new TV show that’s both well-written and visually stunning, with fantastic performances from not only its leads but from its supporting cast as well, take a look at
“Hannibal.”

Season one is available on DVD and Blu-ray today.