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NBC’s “Hannibal” premieres April 4

Hannibal - Season 1

A Killer’s Legend is Reborn

I was intrigued as soon as I heard about the television show featuring the notorious Dr. Hannibal Lecter. Most famously, Anthony Hopkins brought him to life in the films The Silence of the Lambs (1991), for which he won an Academy Award, Hannibal (2001), and Red Dragon (2002). In NBC’s Hannibal, Danish actor Mads Mikkelson takes on the role.

The show has mainly two things working against it: (1) it’s on a low-rated, steadily declining network and (2) Bryan Fuller doesn’t have the best survival rate when it comes to his shows. Dead Like MeWonderfalls, and Pushing Daisies all ended before their prime.

On the other hand, what this show has working in its favor is a stellar cast consisting of Mikkelson, The Big C‘s Hugh Dancy, critically-acclaimed and award-winning actor Laurence Fishburne last seen on CSI, and Broadway performer Raul Esparza who currently stars as the resident D.A. on Law & Order: SVU. Gillian Anderson (The X-Files, Great Expectations) is tapped to play Lecter’s psychotherapist later on in the season, as well.

Based on the trailer, Hannibal looks nothing like Fuller’s previous shows. It’s darker, grittier, and there’s a whole lot of violence. But it’s also unique in that it’s a 13-episode-per-season show. Fuller explains:

“Doing a cable model on network television gives us the opportunity not to dally in our storytelling because we have a lot of real estate to cover,” Fuller says. “I pitched a seven-season arc including stories from various [Thomas Harris] books.” [Entertainment Weekly]

While Fuller gender swapped two key characters from the books (Dr. Alan Bloom is now Dr. Alana Bloom, tabloid journalist Freddy Lounds is now tabloid blogger Fredricka “Freddie” Lounds) and race swapped FBI boss Jack Crawford (played by Fishburne), it’s disappointing to have a male lead in a franchise that’s most well-known for it’s female lead – Clarice Starling.

Then again, the show is an adaption of Thomas Harris’ book Red Dragon, in which Hannibal Lecter makes his first appearance. In it, Lecter’s main foil is Will Graham. So, hopefully, Clarice will make her appearance later on in the series – that is, if the show gets picked up.

Hannibal won’t be the first serial killer serialized television show this year. Despite its many formulaic and badly written episodes, Fox’s The Following has been ‘killing it’ in the ratings and was recently picked up for a second season. We’ll see if Hannibal is able to follow in its footsteps. From the trailer, it looks promising and much less cornier than The Following.

Hannibal premieres April 4th at 10/9 PM central on NBC.