It really annoys the shit out of me when I find out that one of my favorite TV shows has been cancelled. It has happened a lot lately. Constantine was axed, even though it fucking rocked. I also hear that Banshee is being axed after the upcoming season. Then there was The Following (WTF!). And also of course, Hannibal just finished its final run recently, which annoys me more than anything else because Hannibal was-is-a uniquely brilliant show.
The only possible silver lining is that Hannibal may possibly be brought back in the near future, but on a different network. That won’t be happening for a while though, if it ever does. Bryan Fuller, the creator of the show, has stated he is tied up with another project for at least a year, so for now, Hannibal has been put to bed.
The demon stag rests.
By way of a tribute, here are what I think are the five best things about Hannibal.
1. It Is Uniquely Dark And Disturbing
My wife refuses to watch Hannibal because she says she finds it too disturbing and it gives her night terrors.
Hannibal is disturbing, there is no doubt. Some of the scenes-the murder scenes especially-are bizarre and brutal in equal measure. Once seen, they are not easy to forget. So I can understand why some people might find the show a little much.
Others, like myself, might just revel in the more disturbing aspects of a show like Hannibal. Whenever I get surprised by a particularly dark and unsettling scene, or pay witness to one of the many grotesqueries on the show (like people with parts of their face missing while they hold full conversations), I can’t help but smile.
I appreciate the beauty of the darkness Hannibal puts out. The general dark moodiness and edgy anticipation constantly present in the show are just exquisite, and completely gripping.
The reasons why are detailed on the next four things on this list.
2. The Acting Is Wonderfully Understated
Hannibal is a show that is built on subtlety, and no more is this present than in the performances of the lead actors.
Hugh Dancy plays the role of Will Graham brilliantly, bringing a great amount of emotional depth to his character. I love how haunted he looks all the time, by everything that he has seen and done, yet he still manages to hold himself together. Dancy gets the balance between vulnerability and inner strength just right. Despite the horrible things he witnesses and has happen to him, Will Graham still manages to prevail, and thanks to Dancy and the writers, always in a believable way.
Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lecter was always going to be the main focus of the show, despite the fact that the show is more about Will Graham than Hannibal, and especially the relationship Graham has with the serial killer.
But there is no denying that Hannibal Lecter is still the star of the show, the one everyone tunes in to see. It’s a role that has been played brilliantly before by two other great actors, but not in the way that Mikkelsen played it.
Again, Mikkelsen’s performance is awesomely understated. In every scene, what he doesn’t say or outwardly communicate is just as gripping as what he does say. You always get the impression while watching Hannibal on screen that the wheels of his brilliant mind never stopped turning, like he is playing chess with people and is always several moves ahead of everybody, which of course is what makes the character of Hannibal so formidable. Not just his psychopathic ruthlessness, but his sharp as a razor mind. Hannibal is a genius in every respect, deeply skilled in everything he spends his time doing, be it creating sublime food dishes (usually with one of his victims on the menu), psychoanalyzing people, manipulating those same people, or just killing them, he did it all with mind blowing skill.
It takes a certain kind of actor to make such a character believable, and Mads Mikkelsen was the perfect match for the role. He brought a freshness and depth of character to the role that many never would have thought possible.
And then there are the supporting characters, all of whom were equally brilliant in their own way, perhaps giving their best performances to date. Gillian Anderson especially impressed me as the cold and detached psychiatrist. I also loved Joe Anderson’s performance as the wheelchair bound sociopath, Mason Verger, in the last season. The way he spoke was chilling and highly amusing at the same time. The laugh out loud moments are few and far between in Hannibal, but I think Anderson managed to illicit every one of them from me, usually with his snarky comments and ridiculous comic book villain inflections.
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3. The Genius Writing
The writing on the show was some of the most unique and imaginative I have ever seen on television. The way Bryan Fuller and his co writers took those well known characters and set ups and breathed new life into them was just phenomenal.
Everything from the dialogue to the story lines were just perfect in Hannibal. Watching every episode, at some point my jaw would drop at some scene or line of dialogue or twist in the plot, and I would just sit there, amazed that someone could come up with such things.
As a writer, Hannibal always left me feeling humbled and inspired at the same time. Humbled at the brilliance of the writing on display, and inspired for the same reason. It was like discovering some of my Favorited writers for the first time as a teenager, and like those writers, Fuller and co never failed to disappoint.
4. The Awesome Cinematography.
Those cooking scenes. I fucking hate cooking. But those scenes were Hannibal would create these exquisitely beautiful dishes were just a joy to watch. Those scenes were art in themselves.
As were the murder scenes. Nowhere was the imagination of the writers more on display than in the murder scenes. And the way they were filmed and set up were just beautiful. So much so that you could almost forget you were looking at a brutally murdered corpse.
Murder has never quite been done in the way that Hannibal did it.
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And lets not forget the amazing close up shots that seemed to completely transform whatever was being filmed, bringing a whole new dimension to it. Snails for instance, shot in slow motion and extreme close up. Who could have thought snails were so beautiful?
5. The Music And Jarring Sound Effects.
My wife would always comment on the music in Hannibal. She found the music and sound effects more disturbing than anything else.
The sound of Hannibal is unique. The music is never just background music, but an integral part of the scene you are watching. The unique sound effects sometimes grate on the nerves, increasing your unease, but always pulling you further into the scene.
On top of everything else Hannibal utilized to make itself such a stand out show, the music and sound effects made it all the more mesmerizing, and all the more amazing. Like the music from the climatic scene of the final episode.
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Bring Hannibal Back!
Hannibal was a uniquely wonderful show. It deserves to be brought back to the screen again, and I really hope it does.