First there was Manhunter.
Then Silence of the Lambs.
Then the sequel, Hannibal.
Then the sequel/prequel/Manhunter remake, Red Dragon.
Then the origins story, Hannibal Rising.
It was only a matter of time before it was adapted for the small screen and that is precisely what we have in Hannibal.
The show revolves around Will Graham (played by Hugh Dancy), a genius serial killer profiler with Aspergers and the such (naturally!), who is sent back into the field by FBI agent Jack Crawford (played by Laurence Fishburne). Graham then sets about hunting down a series of crazy serial killers “monster of the week” style.
Due to the stress of this work, he is forced to see a renowned psychiatrist, Dr Hannibal Lector (played by Mads Mikkelsen). They discuss cases and personal issues and the such as the as-yet-undetected Lector goes around cannibalising his murder victims.
Whilst this might sound like a really good show, particularly for fans of the movies and/or books, there are a number of problems. The most important is that it takes itself far too seriously. The second most important is that it isn’t as clever as it thinks it is. The writing is sub-par and lacks the nuance or insight to support such illusions of grandeur.
It is essentially a police procedural series with an already famous character. It also lacks any sense of humour whatsoever, so the tone is relentlessly miserable but without the heft required to make that worthwhile or tolerable.
Visually, it is very good. The image is dark and visually compelling, though often too gruesome. The performances are pretty good as well, though they suffer because of the inherent flaws of the show.