Mads Mikkelsen Source
mobile version

Les Chappell: In the realm of pleasant surprises this year, it’s hard to think of another show that turned out to be as unexpectedly good as Hannibal. All of my expectations were low for this show, for plenty of valid reasons: It was an adaptation of a property that’s already been dragged out past its prime in sequel form, it’s on a network meaning it can’t go as far as the subject matter, and that network happens to be NBC, where ill-conceived remakes and adaptations roam like restless ghosts. Only the presence of Bryan Fuller, one of my all-time favorite showrunners, was enough to keep me interested, even though I didn’t see how the aesthetic of Wonderfalls and Pushing Daisies was going to match up with the writing of Thomas Harris.

And I have never been so happy to be wrong. Hannibal was one of the best shows of 2013 for me and the best network drama (edging out Scandal by a narrow margin). It was the other side of Bryan Fuller’s coin, his gift for whimsy and fascination with death inverted into a gorgeously macabre affair. Mads Mikkelsen gave us a completely different version of Dr. Lecter, a monster hidden under the veneer of an aloof dandy, while Will Graham and Jack Crawford were more sympathetic and nuanced than they’ve been in any other version. The visuals brought to life by David Slade and fellow directors were gorgeously macabre–the bodies given angel wings of skin, the living mushroom garden, and the horrific specter of the black wendigo that haunted the entire season. And it also managed to be a show with a compelling narrative threaded through the entire 13 episodes, as Hannibal’s fascination with Will Graham led him to gradually guide the other man into insanity, for no other reason than one chilling sentence: “I wanted to see what would happen.” NBC miraculously renewed the show in the face of terrible ratings, and there’s few other programs I’m anticipating the return of as much in 2014.


Comment Form