Hannibal: Novels, movies..TV??
I caught the premiere of Hannibal this week. I wasn’t as impressed with it as I hoped I would be. In fact, this latest installment of the Hannibal Lecter saga is problematic from the get-go – for a few reasons.
The new series focuses on the relationship between the pre-incarcerated Hannibal Lecter and FBI “special investigator” Will Graham, who both originally made their debut in the Thomas Harris novel, The Red Dragon. I’d like to start out here by mentioning that I was pretty big fan of the Hannibal novels. In fact, Red Dragon was my favorite of the books, followed by Hannibal Rising, The Silence of the Lambs and lastly Hannibal. ‘
I was also a fan of the film rendition of Red Dragon – however not the remade version which starred Anthony Hopkins ad Ed Norton as Graham, who has the uncomfortable gift of empathy, which essentially allows him to “think” like a serial killer.
The “original” Red Dragon was a made for Showtime movie by Michael Mann entitled Manhunter, which starred William Peterson as Will Graham and a little-known Scottish actor named Brian Cox, as Lecter. Lecter didn’t truly become a household name until he was made famous by Anthony Hopkins in the film version of The Silence of the Lambs.
The new series opens with Graham giving lectures at the FBI academy. He is quickly enlisted by FBI Special Agent Jack Crawford to assist in a string of serial murders in Minnesota. Eventually, Crawford and Graham also enlist the help of Lecter, a noted psychiatrist.
Casting issues seem to be the root of the problem with this show. Crawford is portrayed by Laurence Fishburne in the series. I haven’t really liked Fishburne since he switched his name from Larry to Laurence. Larry was a fun guy who starred in cool movies like King of New York and Deep Cover; Laurence, just another brooding prima donna who took himself too seriously.
If I ever decide to start answering only to Sir Ashton Lee Daigle (which actually almost sounds like a serial killer), instead of just Ashton or even “dude”, please do me a favor and just shoot me.
Likewise, Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen, who portray Graham and Lecter respectively, also turn in lackluster performances. Hopefully, it will improve. Gillian Anderson will make her debut on the show next week as Lecter’s therapist. Anderson’s return marks her first TV role since The X Files ended a decade ago.
If anything, the premier of this show makes me want to go back and re-read Harris’s books. This reaction of mine, in turn, has me pondering the relationship between novels, films…and now TV. This is something I hope to follow up on in the days to come.