4 Reasons Hannibal is the Best Show You’re Not Watching

June 4, 2015

When I first heard NBC was basing a TV show off of Hannibal Lecter, the popular Thomas Harris character, I was interested by the concept. I’m a fan of T​he​ S​ilence of the Lambs,​and I think Hannibal Lecter is a fascinating character. However, I was concerned because I didn’t know how network tv would approach the dark subject matter, and didn’t think they would be able to pull it off. Thankfully, I was wrong.

Hannibal​ is a great show, and here’s why:

1. The characters are well developed, complex, and intriguing.

The spotlight is focused on Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, with Jack Crawford being very nearly as important as well. We see all three of these characters in a variety of situations, and we get to see the world through their eyes, and as a result, we get to explore these characters. We find out their motivations, their goals, and their beliefs. H​annibal​ delves into their lives, and what each of these similar, but strikingly different characters value in their relationships.

Each character is noticeably affected by they work they do, and how they deal with the darkness they encounter on a daily basis. These aren’t static characters. They grow, evolve, and adapt as the story progresses, and it’s interesting to see how these changes affect their sense of self and their dealings with others. The supporting cast is somewhat interesting as well, but honestly, Will, Hannibal, and Jack are the best developed characters on the show.

2. The story is riveting, suspenseful, shocking, and dark.

The first few episodes of the series are “killer of the week” type stories that serve to introduce the characters, set the tone, and even get some plot threads going. Admittedly they’re not great, but that’s just the basic nature of storytelling – the beginning of the story is usually the slowest. But enough storytelling 101, because once everything has been established, Hannibal becomes a fun, edge of your seat ride that is equal parts character study and psychological thriller, with mystery and horror elements thrown in. The plot gets increasingly complex with each episode, and there are plenty of twists and turns along the way. Pretty much anything can happen, and since it’s simply based on Thomas Harris’s characters and not a direct adaption of any pre­written story, anything can happen to anyone, and the show takes full advantage of this.

3. The visuals on are breathtaking.

Everything in H​annibal​ looks stunningly beautiful. The set design is impressive, with Hannibal’s office and home looking particularly extravagant. Hannibal frequently cooks on the show, and the sequences that show him preparing a meal are a culinary delight, which honestly is just another way to say “food porn”. Even the horrific crime scenes have a grotesque artfulness to them. The camera angles and direction are masterful, further reinforcing the visual strengths the show already has. (I’m not even the kind of person who normally notices stuff like camera angles and how a scene is constructed – they’re just that good.)

4. The acting is superb.

Mads Mikkelsen is amazing as the eponymous psychiatrist/serial killer. He’s able to successfully convey a cold, detached killer, while still being convincingly affable in his profession as a psychiatrist. Pretty much every scene he’s in, there’s a slight sense of unease and thinly veiled menace. And all this is from the actor I previously only knew as the guy who probably rendered James Bond unable to ever father children in C​asino Royale.​

Hugh Dancy, an actor I’d never heard of until I saw H​annibal,​is surprisingly compelling as Will Graham. As the series progresses and his profiling of killers takes him to the darkest places of humanity, it takes a toll on Will, and Dancy is able to portray this vulnerability in such a way that the audience can effectively feel what he’s going through.

Laurence Fishburne does an excellent job of portraying Jack Crawford, the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, which should really come as a surprise to no one, since it’s Laurence F. Fishburne (the “F” stands for “freaking”). He’s able to bring a bit of gravitas to the role, as Jack struggles with his determination to catch killers, combined with weight of responsibility when things go wrong after assigning his agents dangerous cases.

The supporting cast are no slouches either, with a shout out to Caroline Dhavernas as Alana Bloom, a surprisingly chilling Eddie Izzard, and of course, one of my personal favorites, Gillian Anderson.


I’ve just given you four really good reasons to watch H​annibal.​What are you waiting for? Go watch it!

Hannibal s​eason 3 premieres Thursday, June 4 at [10:00] PM. 

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