NBC has fallen in love with a serial killer. And boy, is it gruesome.
|I *suppose* this guy is Hannibal Lecter. Nice suit.|
Have you heard about NBC’s new show, Hannibal? Remember Silence of the Lambs? Yeah, that Hannibal. Lecter. We’re two episodes in, and I admit, I’m riveted. But not without reservations.
I’m split on how to lay this out, because I’m one of those guys who says “hey, you don’t have to spoon feed audiences. We’re not stupid. Let us find out what’s going on on our own.” Then I see some foreign film and I feel like I can’t enjoy it because I’m spending so much time being confused. Not always, mind you. Don’t get me wrong, I totally understood Central Station. But especially with foreign action movies, things can get weird fast. That said, I also don’t need the protagonists to constantly repeat the plot in different ways.
|This shaggy haired guy? Not Hannibal.|
Where, then, does Hannibal land? Well, for the first 5 minutes or so, I was thinking “Hannibal has shaggy hair?” See, there’s this horrible murder, then things start rewinding with special effects and sound cues, and this shaggy haired guy says something like “this was my design”, and I’m thinking “oh, that must be a young Hannibal”, and I’m waiting for him to eat someone. Then, surprise, he’s working with the police, and I’m totally confused because he’s telling them what he saw.
Finally, I get let off the hook; this guy is apparently an investigator with the FBI, a little off his kilter, and can imagine, can’t help but imagine, what a killer did in order to commit his crimes. It’s a blessing and a curse, kind of like a schizo Sherlock Holmes. It isn’t until later that Hannibal enters the story as this guy’s psychiatrist. Aha!
|Remember this guy? He’s in this, too, without any fanfare.|
And so I’m not sure. Do I like that they led me along without telling me who this was? Or am I annoyed that they were obtuse? The latter, I think, because it doesn’t seem like they had any reason to lead me along. Unless I missed something, they simply didn’t tell me who this was, but I came into it thinking “I’m going to see Hannibal Lecter”, and the first guy who’s creepy is probably him, especially considering that unless I’ve read the novels (I haven’t) I don’t know what he’s going to look like. I think this was an oversight, an assumption that there would be no preconceptions. Or if they did assume preconceptions, then, I don’t know, I don’t feel like that paid off. It just seemed messy.
That said, this is an interesting series, and now that the initial WTF is out of the way, I can appreciate what they’re attempting. In the vein of Dexter and the current The Following, the serial killer is a protagonist, and there is some amount of empathy with him. At least, we see their more normal side, and the tension of what happens when they’re found out is part of the good part of the story.
|Creeped out yet?|
There’s also a parallel with Bones, in that this is very forensic. But much more gruesome. The serial killers they portray so far are far more inventive and disgusting than in most shows I’ve seen. And we’re only two episodes in. Pretty racy fare for broadcast TV.
|How about now?|
|Seriously, those are mushrooms growing off of people…|
Thursdays on NBC TV
8 out of 10 body bags.
Eliot has been orbiting show business for over 20 years as an improv comedian, video director, and general guy you might barely recognize. Currently best known for his work on the comedy podcast Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast. He wrote previously for MacEdition.com, and is working on a collection of short sci-fi and weird tales that will probably be published someday. He is also one of three principals in Modest Games.