HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: Hannibal: The Complete First Season
HTS Overall Score:85
It seems that this is the season (excuse the pun) for horror TV series that revisit the origins of famous serial killers. First it was the creepy “Bates Motel”, which expounds upon the early years of one of Alfred Hitchcock’s most famous villains, Norman Bates, and now we gain a new perspective upon Thomas Harris’ most famous villain. The dance between Will Graham and Dr. Hannibal Lector has been portrayed both in book form and several times in film form over the years. First with Michael Mann’s stylish thriller “Manhunter” and most recently in Edward Norton’s portrayal of the psychologically “interesting” FBI investigator in “Red Dragon”. I enjoyed both movies, personally, and have always found the case of “the insane catching the insane” a fantastic twist. In this rendition of the tale we go back several years prior to “Red Dragon” and “Manhunter” back when Will Graham was only just starting to sniff out Dr. Hannibal Lector’s trail
The series starts with Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a unique FBI asset, who carries himself a plethora of psychological quirks and instabilities that give him a unique perspective into the criminal mind. A man whose empathy knows no bounds, Will can LITERALLY put himself into the mindset of a killer and think like he does, scheme like he does, and as a result has a fantastic ability to track down and apprehend such a monster. As you can guess, this takes a terrible toll on a person’s psyche and to a man that’s already as “damaged” as Will is, it only wears so much the worse. Will’s boss, Jack Crawford (Lawrence Fishbourne), watches over Will the best he can, but when it comes to matters of the mind he comes up short. As a result Jack sends Will to have his psyche cared for by a psychiatrist. One Hannibal Lector by name. The audience, of course, knows who Dr. Lector is from the moment he comes on screen, but the intrigue and fun comes from watching the intricate game of cat and mouse that Dr. Lector must play with his FBI friends and especially with his growing friendship with his own patient, Will Graham.
Will and Jack solve a myriad of gruesome murders, but strangely enough a single tying killer seems to be lurking just outside of their reach. The Chesapeake Ripper has eluded the FBI for years and now it seems that he’s killing once more. Through all the muck and the mire bogging down Will’s fragile psyche he and Jack home in on this elusive killer, peeling back layer after layer of criminal copycats, false leads and old case files and seem to find nothing. This causes Jack to become frustrated, but poor Will seems to be coming closer and closer to the brink of madness as time goes on. It appears that there’s more to Will’s issue than meets the eye and our benevolent Dr. Lector is only fueling the fires. The questions remain, can will gain some sort of stability in this madness of life, and just what IS Dr. Lectors game?
As with “Bates Motel” what makes or breaks a show like this is the characters. One can see one police procedural, or horror movie and you can really say you’ve seen them all; what makes a psychological show like this truly unique is just HOW the characters are played by the actors. Here it is no different. Will Graham started out as a rather wearing character with his ability to see into a killers mind, but he has adapted into a character you truly empathize with. Unlike “Manhunter” and “Red Dragon” where Will just is a bit psychologically “eccentric”, here he is a man on the edge of his own sanity. Someone who is soooooooooo close to being in the looney bin with the killers he locks up, a man who’s so mentally damaged that he can relate to, and find the most dangerous people on this planet. Lawrence Fishhbourne plays a very convincing Jack Crawford and has no complaints from me. What REALLY makes the show more than anything is the mind blowing performance from Mads Mikkelsen. Stealing the show at every scene he glides across the screen as the cold and purely calculating Dr. Hannibal Lector. Instead of portraying his as over the top and charismatic ala Anthony Hopkins, Mads Mikkelsen makes the character completely his own with a passive, clinical take on the good doctor. Under all the class, style and composure lurks a madman that just begs to get out, but instead of showing the seething anger and insanity onscreen Mads is able to communicate that emotion and raw evil through just a simple look, a sideways glance or the glint his eyes. Truly terrifying and creepy I honestly don’t know when I’ve actually had my skin crawl while watching a show like this.
Without a doubt I have to say that “Hannibal” is one of the finest horror TV series I’ve seen in a VERY long time. I honestly wondered just how much gore could be shone in a network TV series and “Hannibal” definitely went above and beyond in that respect. NBC is really putting out the big bucks it seems, because the gore and gruesome is on a level that I honestly never expected. I’ve seen a LOT of cable TV and “Hannibal” is right up there with some of the best of them for showing the nitty gritty details, whether it be a gruesome corpse or an actual murder being committed on screen, the show pulls no punches and goes right for the Jugular (so to speak). The series has been planned out for 5 seasons or so. The first 2 having to deal with “pre Red Dragon” days, while the 3rd is during the events of “Red Dragon”, the 4th coinciding with “Silence of the Lambs” and the 5th season taking place during the events of “Hannibal”. Honestly as much as I really love the series I wonder how many seasons it can go on without petering out. It’s very difficult keep a series going with this much intensity and ferocity until shock value wears thin. If the producers can pull it off then I’m right with them all the way.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12812[/img]I have to say, I’m wildly impressed with Lionsgate’s 1.78:1 AVC encode of “Hannibal”. Most TV shows tend to be a bit soft, or lacking in the sharpness category, but “Hannibal” pulls off a fantastic transfer with much aplomb. There is a heavy orange push to the color spectrum, but the beautiful outdoor scenery is a stunning sight to behold. Detail is rich throughout with only a hint of occasional softness to be found. Colors are bright and cheerful when need be, but the series is filled with tons of moody maroons and deep blues that create a sort of morbid and melancholy feel to the series. Blacks are inky and deep, and only once or twice did I notice any hint of black crush or greyness. Nothing to cause any major issues, but just a hint here and there.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=12813[/img]While the video encode for “Hannibal” was excellent the audio was almost a hair better. This one honestly shocked me. Most TV series tend to be a bit on the anemic side, due to a limited budget and propensity for a front loaded audio track thanks to a majority of the effort being put into the dialogue. While the dialogue is absolutely fantastic the track has an incredible sense of depth and robustness to it. LFE is power and strong, giving a low end to the series that I did not expect in a broadcast TV series. I would say that this track is just as good and dynamic as many a Hollywood blockbuster. Surrounds are used beautifully, giving us a sense of immersion into the psychological realm of the series and transporting us right into the middle of the series. Truly an excellent job by Lionsgate.
• Aperitif - Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy
• Pilot Episode Storyboards
• Hannibal Reborn
• A Taste for Killing
• Gag Reel
• Savoreux - Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy
• A Symphony for Slaughter
• The FX of Murder
• Will and Alana...Deleted scene
I had fun watching “Bates Motel” and honestly thought that would be the best horror series of the year. Luckily for all of us I was pleasantly surprised when “Hannibal” stepped up and tore that trophy away from “Bates”. Keeping us pinned to our seats with a psychological game of cat and mouse, it toys with us and gives us just enough gore and terror to keep us shocked and awed at the same time. While it started out a little bit rough (most first season’s do), “Hannibal” managed to claw it’s way from good to great and become one of the better seasons in this last years lineup. Barely managing to stay afloat financially it was able to secure a second season and I eagerly await just what happens next in this epic game of “who’s playing who”. Thanks to the stunning audio and visual presentation from Lionsgate films I can honestly say that this is a must buy.
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelson, Lawrence Fishbourne
Created by: Bryan Fuller
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 561 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: Sept 24th, 2013
Buy Hannibal: The Complete First Season Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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