With mushrooms growing out of the bodies of buried but still living victims, a pair of lungs prepared gourmet-style by the famously cannibalistic doctor, and with enough spurting blood to rival a premium cable series, “Hannibal” is off to a strong start as one of the grisliest dramas on broadcast TV.
The characters are so compelling, however, that you may give in to the gore-fest. Hugh Dancy as Special Agent Will Graham, Laurence Fishburne as Agent Jack Crawford and Mads Mikkelsen as Dr. Hannibal Lecter are a strong triangle at the heart of the story. Each inhabits his character with authority, making the twisted minds seem credibly skewed. The soundtrack is wonderfully eerie, suggesting the damaged inner lives.
Bryan Fuller (“Pushing Daisies”) has created an effective backstory for one of the great villains of modern crime fiction. The premise: Before “Silence of the Lambs,” before “Red Dragon,” Hannibal Lecter (Mikkelsen of “Casino Royale”) was a brilliant psychiatrist in the employ of the FBI. He was recruited by FBI boss Jack Crawford (Fishburne, “Man Of Steel”), the head of the FBI’s Behavioral Science Unit, to crack the tough cases. Now Lecter must help a sensitive but gifted criminal profiler, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy, “The Big C”), who is haunted by his ability to see into the minds of serial killers. Will, the hunter of psychopaths, finds himself seated opposite Hannibal, the biggest psychopath with the biggest secret, discussing dark feelings and precarious mental states.
Fuller’s series is based on characters from the book “Red Dragon” by Thomas Harris. While this level of violent imagery is not my cup of tea, I was drawn in by the characterizations. Consider that a warning, and bon apetit.