S1 – 9.6/10 / S2 – 10/10 / S3 – 7.2/10
Possibly The Darkest TV Series Ever Made, Hannibal is the prodigal & rare prequel better than its classic original: Silence Of The Lambs; a nightmare of bone-chilling realism, psychoanalytical subterfuge, brutal mystery-detective cold-case/serial-killer thrills, and one of the greatest performances of television history: Mads Mikkelsen. 9.6/10.
Plot Synopsis: A prequel series to Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal follows Will Graham, a professor employed by the FBI due to a unique gift he has to put himself into the crime scene. The FBI also enlists a psychiatrist by the name of Dr. Hannibal Lecter to keep an eye on Will and analyze the killers, but he has secrets & agendas of his own.
*Possible spoilers ahead*
Season 1 – 9.6/10
I’ll admit, I was skeptical when I heard they were making a Silence of the Lambs prequel series on TV. Just like slasher movies get rebooted and prequeled more times than can count, I was worried they were going to tarnish the legacy of the original All-Time great horror film with this series. However, when I learned Mads Mikkelsen (of Casino Royale fame) was going to be playing the infamous role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter, I was intrigued, and when I started watching the show, I was stunned. The show is not only a serviceable adaptation of Lecter’s life before the prison we find him in in SOTL, it is unbelievably good.
There are so many positives it’s overwhelming. For one, the acting is incredible. Mads Mikkelsen absolutely steals the show as Dr. Lecter, bringing his characteristic darkness and evil aura that made him such a great villain in Casino Royale and stepping up to one of the most famous roles in cinema, dare I say, even outshining the great Anthony Perkins in bringing the brilliant Doctor/undercover killer to life. There is not one weak link in the series in acting, especially Will Graham and Jack Crawford who are both played extremely well as well.
Next, the tone is satisfyingly dark, a concern of mine due to its primetime tv slot and the tendency for some shows to become too lightened to meet those standards. The tone matches perfectly the vile subject matter and horrific storyline of Dr. Lecter’s extra-clinical escapades. The pacing is also incredibly good, as the show is extremely binge-watchable and does not lose your attention for a second with how its constructed.
The psychological analysis and culinary arts portrayed on the show (even if the exact identity of the meat is cringeworthy) are motifs that are beautifully done as well. The show delves deep into the constructs of the minds of its characters, especially Will and the other mains as Dr. Lecter pulls their strings and manipulates them into doing what he wants in genius fashion. The cooking scenes are beautiful and sophisticated enough for their own Food Network show and look like they’re being done by a 5-Star chef, which makes it even more a treat as it’s a side-project of the show done to the 9’s and fascinating when you learn that Mads Mikkelsen actually did all of them himself as a food connoisseur when he’s not acting. There are also plenty of teases that Hannibal isn’t exactly feeding Kosher meat to his dinner guests (funny but cruel in how in-love they are with it) and his hungting down of his dinner meals that reference the legacy well.
The bad: the show is EXTREMELY dark and brutal. This can be a pro to some extent, but the sheer savagery of Lecter’s kills and portrayal of the bodies afterwards in macabre and downright shockingly dark poses is understandably hard for people even accustomed to horror to watch. I like how it is made dark and they are being true in portraying Dr. Lecter’s psychotic nature, but could have turned it down a bit as it literally made me sick sometimes and jaws dropping how evil some of them were. Also, the ending to the season could’ve been a bit more focused on Hannibal instead of Will, but this is a subjective and minor flaw in what otherwise is one of the best horror shows on TV today.
Overall Rating: 9.6/10
Season 2 – 10/10
Verdict: Perfect television; All-Time great finale
Positives: Immediately captivating opening with Hannibal vs. Jack, perfectly crafted start to the season, same characteristic superior pacing and acting especially by Mikkelson, Will’s trial and undercover killing plot a GREAT choice in driving plot, good crime scenes like cornfield body-painting while refreshingly less focused on than the characters who are given full spotlight, Will’s transformation under Hannibal’s whispering terrifying, shocking, and extremely well-crafted even though it is revealed later as a ruse, one of the most ambitious and boldest in scope and greatest season finales of ALL-TIME!
Official CLC Score: 10/10
Season 3 – 7.2/10
Verdict: Slow, shockingly uninspired but strong ending
Positives: Refreshing change of scenery to beautiful Italia, good resolution in that not everyone and not all main characters died in the S2 finale, Randomly picks back up at episode 7 into a still not great but more regular plot, finally see Hannibal go to jail like he is in Silence of the Lambs
Negatives: Frustrating opening to the season with a lack of mention entirely of the insane events and possible 4 deaths of the season 2 finale, Absence of the aforementioned characters painfully noticeable even minutes in, Dr. Du Mars not an interesting character at all in my opinion especially for the second biggest role in this season, pacing WAY too slow (bordering on boring), less interesting storyline – near shockingly uninspired, do not like the decision AT ALL to have only one person die from the S2 finale- no weight now that everyone survived and the only one who died was not even a major player in S2, Mason’s new voice possibly the most annoying voice in the HISTORY of television and it drones for entire episodes towards the end, poor writing that they keep catching Hannibal relatively simply but keep letting him go even after all he’s done
Official CLC Score: 7.2/10