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Nat thought – fantastic start, but will it become just another paint by numbers cop show?

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We’re currently up to episode five (episode four having been pulled last week in reaction to the Boston bombings) and I’m scared. After the first two episodes this was because the imagery and tone of Hannibal are so creepy, but now at episode five, I’m just scared that what had the potential to be the best thing I’ve seen on television in years, is about to turn into a formulaic, procedural cop show. Albeit a beautifully gory one.

It seems violence is TV’s new frontier. Shows like Game of ThronesVikings and now Hannibal are all laying the blood and guts and splatter on thick, trying and somehow succeeding to push the boundaries of censorship. Hannibal has truly disturbing images of horrendous murders, made even more disturbing for me because I’m moved to use words like ‘beautiful’ to describe them. 

The thing I enjoy most so far about this show is that nobody knows what Hannibal (the man) is, and indeed if you’d never read/seen any of the books or films or heard his rhyming nickname (if that’s even possible), you might not even guess yourself yet. But you might perhaps wonder why there’s so many scenes of him eating. For us in the know, there’s subtle hints in the script and lots of kind of ‘wink wink’ food imagery. Thankfully it doesn’t slap you round the face with it, but know what’s going on or not, it’ll still give you chills.

Now is it just me or is Mads Mikkelsen’s Hannibal almost impossible to understand? Sooooo much of his dialogue is lost to me. Maybe I need to watch some other Danish people speaking English to acclimatise to the accent. Maybe I should just turn on the subtitles.

I’m actually not sold on Mads yet, although as an actor I’ve enjoyed him in other roles. To me, Hannibal is supposed to be charming, and that’s a big part of his dastardliness, and I don’t think Mads is. I don’t want a Hopkins impersonation, and I totally understand the desire to have a different interpretation, but I just find his Hannibal cold. Or wet. Or cold and wet.

Although going from the picture below, maybe he warms up a bit later on…

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Hugh Dancy (a Brit) on the other hand does a perfectly understandable American accent. As Will Graham, the FBI special agent with a gift for delving into the minds of killers, he’s not bad looking, and there’s enough shots of him topless, sweaty and in his underwear to keep certain audiences attached. But so far he’s just the freakily clever ’empath’ who comes into a crime scene, has a hallucination, complains about how much he hates doing this and goes home to have his daily (nightly??) nightmare. They’re not giving us much reason to like him or be interested in his story. To me he’s increasingly becoming a bit of a Moaning Myrtle and that’s not what you want in a lead now is it?

The rest of the cast are pretty good. They’ve tried to mix it up a bit by having Will’s boss Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) be black and journalist Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorosteki) be a woman. Plus Gillian Anderson turns up soon for a few episodes, so I guess that might be interesting.

But what started out as exciting television has unfortunately, by episode 5, gone all formulaic on us. I mean, do we have to have a new killer each episode? I know America has a rather large population, but are there really that many serial killers among them? Having it all solved by the end of every episode is also just too neat for me, not to mention done to death in other cop shows. And do serial killers all really have such elaborate and theatrical ways of killing? Did they all go to art school or study production design? Maybe FBI behavioral teams start hanging out in art galleries to scope out potential nuttters.

There’s little hints that Hannibal will go deeper, that the relationship between Hannibal and Graham will ‘develop’, in ways that anyone who’s read the books will be looking forward to. Maybe I just need to be patient, but by the time they get there I don’t know if I’ll care.

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