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Hannibal: Season One(TV) (2013)
Explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.
For more about Hannibal: Season One and the Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray release, see the Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on September 19, 2013 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Laurence Fishburne, Scott Thompson (I)
Director: Bryan Fuller
» See full cast & crew
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray Review
Is something eating you?
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, September 19, 2013
The historical Hannibal famously trekked over the Pyrenees and Alps to conquer northern Italy. Hannibal's modern day namesake is having a bit of trouble getting past the considerably less daunting Wasatch range in the American west, however. That's right, folks, Hannibal is hard to find in Salt Lake City. As a former Utahn myself, let me just start this review by offering some brief condolences to and commiseration with Salt Lake City viewers who were subject to local NBC affiliate KSL's decision to air Hannibal in the middle of the night, far removed from its "official" timeslot. The only consolation I can offer to these viewers is that at least they're living in the era of the DVR. When I was growing up in Salt Lake City, there were no such devices, and all of the local Salt Lake City affiliates played so fast and loose with the networks' proposed schedules that it was often next to impossible to figure out when shows were airing (if they were at all, as Salt Lake City has a fairly notorious history of outright banning certain series). So if there's good news to be had here, it's that at least Hannibal is in fact airing in this market. And in fact no matter when Hannibal airs in your neck of the woods, even if it's been time shifted to some netherworld where only someone like a certain Dr. Lecter might be around to see it, those who like their television dramas a bit on the twisted side will probably want to seek out this latest reboot of the vaunted Thomas Harris character.
Though evidently producer Dino De Laurentiis, who owned the rights to the Lecter character and whose imprimatur is attached in one way or another to the entire Lecter franchise, evidently disagreed, at least some fans of Dr. Lecter have long felt that the best all around adaptation of Harris' novels was not in fact The Silence of the Lambs (as fantastic as many understandably find that film), but Manhunter, a stylish (some argue too stylish) 1986 thriller directed by Michael Mann. This film was based on Harris' novel Red Dragon, a novel which was adapted again under its original title when Lambs' Lecter, Anthony Hopkins, revisited the role for the 2002 film version. I won't split hairs over which adaptation of Red Dragon is better (I actually like them both quite a bit, for different reasons), but one of the interesting things both versions, and Harris' original novel, presented was a thrilling psychological pas de deux between FBI Agent Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, first as collaborators and then as nemeses. Hannibal revisits this labyrinthine relationship, and if there's a certain repetitiveness which results from an episodic television formulation of the basic story, there's a really spooky ambience that pervades this series and gives it a very unsettling vibe that actually makes it, KSL or not, perfect late night fare.
While I'm certainly no advocate of censorship, however minor it may be in the case of something like KSL's decision to time shift the series, in a way it's understandable that some might want to shield even adult eyes from the frankly disturbing undercurrents which run rather rampantly through Hannibal. We're introduced to profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who in this iteration of the story is so empathic and empathetic that he can "sense" murder scenes and enter the minds of the perpetrators, allowing him to experience what happened. Graham later confesses to Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) that he is actually on the high functioning end of the Asperger's – Autism spectrum, but that he finds social interaction next to impossible and even prefers not to make eye contact with people. Graham has found a relatively comfortable niche teaching profiling skills to up and coming FBI Agents at Quantico, but Jack wants him back in the field when a serial murderer strikes, abducting a series of young college age girls, one of whom is mysteriously placed back in her bedroom — after having been killed.
Jack wants to hedge his bets about getting Will involved, especially since there's the none too subtle hint that Will's mental state may not exactly be balanced (this bears a rather surprising but unmistakable similarity to some of what informs Homeland), and decides to approach another professional who can give some profiling advice on who the killer might be. That turns out to be none other than Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson, sporting a weird quasi-Hitleresque haircut). Hannibal very smartly plays on the fact that most audience members are already going to be aware of the character's rather infamous future, and many episodes deal with Lecter's gastronomic pursuits, which are often intercut (no pun intended) with scenes of rather gruesome murder sites.
Hannibal is exploiting a structure which has been more at home on cable, namely a short form season which is comprised of 13 episodes. The first arc introduces a glut of supporting characters, including Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavemas), an FBI psychiatrist who has a bit of a back story with Will, but who defers to Dr. Lecter's analytical judgment when Jack feels Will could use a little help dealing with some of his "issues". Also on hand is an internet version of a tabloid crime reporter named Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), who keeps poking around various crime sites, often posting information about them on her website. Gillian Anderson is also on hand in a great performance as Dr. Lecter's psychoanalyst (evidently mental health professionals need someone to talk to, too).
This first season's focus tends to remain a bit more resolutely on Will than on Lecter, though Lecter begins to assume a more important role during the latter half of the season. What's fascinating here is the slow cat and mouse game between Lecter and Will, with Will not really realizing (initially, anyway) that Lecter is often working at cross purposes to him and, in fact, the FBI and various investigations. The show, while viscerally disturbing due to its extremely graphic nature, actually comes out of the gate relatively slowly, and fans of the Lecter character will need to be patient for the show to ensnare them—which (for this viewer anyway) did happen by the end of the fifth episode.
Hannibal pulls some fantastic sleights of hand in its closing couple of episodes, again bringing up comparisons to Homeland. And in fact the comparison doesn't stop there—just as in the Showtime series, the two main characters almost reverse places by the season's end, and Graham, like Homeland's Carrie Mathison, finds himself needing institutional "professional help" (whether he wants it or not). So far, Hannibal has been a rather brisk and well written reboot of the Lecter character, and there's every indication this series could end up being one of the standouts for a resurgent NBC. If you're in Salt Lake City, remember to set your DVR.
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray, Video Quality
Hannibal: Season One is presented on Blu-ray courtesy of Lionsgate Films with an AVC encoded 1080p transfer in 1.78:1. This digitally shot series boasts largely impeccable detail, with quite a bit of attention paid to various color grading techniques. Some of Will's "recreations" of crime scenes feature a weirdly skewed palette which adds to the dreamlike quality of the sequences, and many times the graphic crime scenes will be intentionally bled (pun intended) of color, offering a stark but chilling visual metaphor for what's happened to the deceased. The series plays with light in some great ways, too. Pay attention, for example, to how often Lecter's face is half consumed by shadows. Contrast here is generally quite strong, though I personally would have preferred it to have been boosted in some of the series' many dark interior scenes. The image here is precise and stable, and I noticed no obvious artifacting as I watched this first season.
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray, Audio Quality
Hannibal: Season One has an incredibly forceful and nuanced lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track, one which benefits immensely from the incredibly spooky "psychological" score by Brian Reitzell, a score which utilizes a number of electronic elements which often pulse through the surrounds with incredible low frequency. There are also a number of great sound effects the series utilizes, including a propulsive heart beat that may actually produce air pressure changes in your home theater environment. Ambient environmental sounds are very well scattered through the surrounds, and dialogue is very cleanly presented. All in all, this is a remarkably well done 5.1 mix for "mere" series television, boasting great fidelity and extremely wide dynamic range.
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Hannibal is definitely not going to be to everyone's taste (I truly apologize for the run of horrible puns in this review), but for those who don't mind really graphic imagery and some very dark plot elements, this show has a lot to offer. The best thing about the series is how imaginatively it reimagines these iconic characters, very neatly playing off the audiences' foreknowledge and expectations as to what is ultimately going to be revealed. This first season sets the chess pieces very artfully on the board, but that does take a bit of time, and patience is recommended. This Blu-ray offers great video and superior audio and comes with some appealing supplements. Recommended.
Hannibal: Other Seasons
Hannibal: Season One Blu-ray, News and Updates
• This Week on Blu-ray: September 24-October 1 - September 21, 2013
For the week of September 24th, Disney and Marvel Studios are bringing their blockbuster Iron Man 3 to Blu-ray. Other titles include the first season of NBC's Hannibal, a restored Halloween Blu-ray, Scream Factory's Psycho II, South Park: The Complete Sixteenth ...
• Exclusive Interview: 'Hannibal' Executive Producer Martha De Lau... - September 19, 2013
Hannibal, streeting on Blu-ray September 24, has been a notable success for NBC, which has been attempting to reestablish its prime time ratings clout after a few years of less than stellar audience responses to many of their offerings. Blu-ray.com staff reviewer ...
• Hannibal: Season One Officially Announced - July 19, 2013
Lionsgate Home Entertainment has officially announce that it will release on Blu-ray Gaumont International Television's TV series Hannibal: Season One, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, and Lara Jean Chorostecki. The release ...
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