Plot: What’s it about?
Do you think Thomas Harris knew the cultural impact a character he created would have in the coming decades? In 1981 Harris scripted a novel, Red Dragon, which introduced us to the character of Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The first movie was 1986’s Manhunter in which Lecter was portrayed by Brian Cox. Perhaps the highest profile adaptation of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is in 1991’s Silence of the Lambs and featured Sir Anthony Hopkins as the mad Psychairist. As we all know, the film swept the Oscars winning the “Big 5”, something only two other films in history had done. A decade later we were treated to a sequel with Hannibal again with Hopkins reprising his role (though Jodie Foster’s Clarice was replaced with Julianne Moore). The next year we the aforementioned Red Dragon with Hopkins once again reprising his role and the focus shifted to Will Graham played by Edward Norton. Oh we’re not done yet! In 2007 Hannibal Rising was more of a prequel and showed us how Hannibal Lecter became the person he is today. And now here we are in 2013 and we’ve got a television series with the iconic name – Hannibal.
The first season acts as if the viewer doesn’t know who (or what) Hannibal Lecter is. That’s probably a good thing and the 13 episode season is more indicative of a cable series rather than a network. This is intentional and as creator Bryan Fuller has in mind he wants it to be more of a Hitchcockian type of thriller. We’re introduced to the main players pretty quickly and though Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) takes more of a role in the latter part of the season, we get to know Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) from the get go. If you’re familiar with the movies/books, then there’s really nothing new here – mainly just new faces. Special Agent Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishburne) teams Graham with Dr. Hannibal Lecter to catch a killer. Graham can think and act like his prey, but needs to mind of a true mad man to get the job done. As we’ve seen by Lecter in the past, we know that he can make others (in this case, Graham) think twice about…everything.
I remember seeing the previews for Hannibal on television, but my viewing palette is pretty much full. So when the first season of Hannibal arrived I figured I’d give it a shot. I’ve seen about every incarnation of Hannibal Lecter that’s been on screen and am (and always have been) a big fan. The American Film Institute named Lecter as the number one movie villain of all-time, so that alone might say something about the appeal of the character. As good as Hugh Dancy is in his role, I have to give credit to Mads Mikkelsen (best known for his turn as the villain in the James Bond movie Casino Royale) here. He embodies the role like Hopkins does and does it with such panache that it really makes you take notice. Fishburne seems to play the role the same as he did as his stint on C.S.I. a few years ago and we’re also treated to some guest stars along the way (Gillian Anderson comes to mind). Fans of the original Red Dragon book will appreciate this series and I might have to add just one more show to my weekly list.
Video: How’s it look?
As I expected, the first season of Hannibal is shown in a 1.78:1 AVC HD image and that image looks nothing short of spectacular. Fans of this genre know that the mood and tone is (and will be) dark and that’s conveyed pretty well in this first season. Texture and detail are immediately noticeable, we can see the little “fly away” hairs in the Graham character. The placidness of Lecter’s face looks more akin to a wax figure than a human being. Contrast and black levels work well off one another creating a somber and dark tone that’s perfect for this show. I never caught an episode over the air, but I’d have to imagine that this is a bit superior to the HD broadcast. Whatever the case, viewers will be more than satisfied.
Audio: How’s it sound?
The included DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack really works. While not the most robust soundtrack out there (for a television show) it does have some moments. By and large, the series is more dialog-driven and the vocals sound rich and strong. Surrounds are used, though sparingly, to add some emphasis to some of the action sequences. I’m at a bit of an road block here, there’s not a lot more to say so I’ll just leave it at this: it sounds great!
Supplements: What are the extras?
This release has actually been given a substantial bit of supplements (for a television show) so let’s get started:
- Audio Commentaries – Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy on “Aperitif” and Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy on “Savoreux“. Each commentary is pretty lively and runs well as we learn about some of the little facts about the episodes, the shoot and some little tidbits about the production here and there.
- “Hannibal Reborn” – Takes a look at the series with an interview with Martha De Laurentiis, the Executive Producer, as to why the show was created and so forth.
- “A Taste for Killing” – Is a rather tongue in cheek (sorry, couldn’t resist) look at the nature of Lecter and his cannibalistic nature.
- “The FX of Murder” – Gives us a look at some of the special and visual effects used in the show.
- “A Sympathy for the Slaughter” – This focuses on the show’s composer, Brian Reitzell.
- Pilot Episode Storyboard – Pretty self-explanatory.
- Deleted Scene – “Will and Alana”
- Gag Reel – Some outtakes.
- UltraViolet Copy