Possibly one of the best shows on television today, Hannibal is a series that every fan of suspense and horror should devote a little time to. The show originated with the world-famous series of novels by Thomas Harris, though it is set earlier than the books and does not directly follow their narrative, instead choosing to go its own way. The excellence of Hannibal is evident in the fact that it has won several awards, including those for best series and best actor, and was nominated for several more. Two seasons have been completed with a third lined up to premiere sometime in the spring of 2015, so now is a great time for newcomers to explore the reasons why everyone loves this show.


Hannibal Now and Then

The first season of the show begins with the character of Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) free and practicing psychiatry like any other normal person might do. He is, of course, a serial killer, but the police are unaware of his less savory activities. Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is a criminal profiler who gets pulled in by the FBI to help them solve murder cases, particularly those that relate to serial killers. Led by Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), this FBI team deals with the worst of the worst.

When Graham finds himself feeling less and less stable due to his continually crawling into the minds of killers, Crawford brings Lecter in to act as his psychiatrist. Unfortunately, Lecter has other designs. He uses his relationship with the FBI to throw them off track with regards to his own crimes and manipulates Graham in such a way that the hero of the story begins to believe he may be the villain. In the end, Lecter’s plan succeeds. Graham is accused of Lecter’s crimes and confined to a prison cage. Worse yet, he is the only person that suspects Lecter to be the actual killer.

As the show moves into Season 2, it takes on a new and interesting dynamic. Graham is stuck in prison and must solve the riddle of Lecter’s murders while confined. Those on the outside are not sure whether to trust him or not, though he does eventually manage to bring people over to his side. Meanwhile, Lecter does his best to ensure that he will not be discovered. He kills off Graham’s allies even as he attempts to convince Graham that his true calling is not in criminal profiling, but in killing. When Graham is finally cleared of the charges against him and released back into the world, the real showdown between killer and cop begins. Graham is forced to befriend Lecter in order to gain his trust and a balancing act begins that may result in Graham becoming the next victim of his cannibal psychiatrist.

A Brilliantly Villainous Cast and Crew

There are many things that make Hannibal into the amazing series that it is. Bryan Fuller (Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies) acts as showrunner, bringing his unique style to the series. The crew of writers is talented enough to keep the show complex and interesting without letting it get so convoluted that audiences become confused. The visual department excels at making the show into something that is almost spellbinding in the way it is visually portrayed. Those that love spooky, creepy horror will find themselves right at home with this show. Audiences that enjoy police shows will find the series to be something above and beyond what they are used to. Hannibal regularly pushes the boundaries and, more often than not, manages to leave viewers blown away and craving more.

The other element that makes this show so brilliant is the cast. Many may remember Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of the titular character, but Mads Mikkelsen does a perfect job of drawing people in and, eventually, overshadowing his predecessor. He has a natural charisma that is both intriguing and frightening at the same time. The character of Lecter is written in such a way that it complements Mikkelsen’s acting abilities and further draws viewers in. Hugh Dancy is equally impressive as the half-mad genius, Will Graham. It is hard not to feel for Graham as he is tossed around by both his own mind and Lecter’s sadistic machinations. The supporting cast adds to the brilliance of the show even further. With talented actors such as Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Scott Thompson, Gillian Anderson, Eddie Izzard and Michael Pitt all putting in top-notch performances, it is easy to see why the show has gained so much renown among critics and audience alike.

Catching Up with Hannibal

One great thing about joining the rest of the “Fannibals” (a title that fans wear proudly) and exploring this excellent show is that there have only been two seasons so far. Better yet, the seasons are each only thirteen episodes long. Once you watch the first episode, you will inevitably find yourself drawn in and watching more. Since it is easy to find and watch Hannibal online, getting caught up is a breeze. The hardest part will be when you are all done with the first two seasons and realize that you are going to have to wait for the upcoming season to see more of the show.