January 11, 2014

Blu-ray Essentials: Hannibal: Season One (TV, 2013)

Hannibal: Season One (2013)
Lionsgate Films
Price: Currently $29.78 on Amazon (click pic above to order)
50 GB Blu-ray Disc
3 Disc Set
UV Copy
Digital Copy (Download)
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz, 24-bit)
English, English SDH, Spanish
Region: A

When we first heard that NBC was making a TV Show based around one of the biggest icons in movie history, I laughed. How could a TV Show about Hannibal Lecter possibly work? How could NBC ever do the character, and the series of books from whence he came, any justice whatsoever? Network TV is no place for blood, gore, cannibalism, and such heavy themes; no, Network TV plays it safe, and offers mostly pedestrian, non-offensive programming to its audience, because that's just what they do. Network TV is a money game, and taking crazy chances is something that the Big 4 just never have the balls (or inclination) to do.

Well in this case I stand corrected, because it seems as if NBC just let it rip with this show. With Hannibal, they've allowed Bryan Fuller and his crew to give us a solid, engaging, nasty little hour-long that not only does Hannibal Lecter and his legacy great justice, but I dare say has improved upon the titular cannibal's story considerably.

Hannibal is a prequel to Manhunter (or Red Dragon, as the books go), and where the Theatrical prequel, Hannibal Rising, went completely wrong, this small screen effort got it absolutely right. Hannibal Lecter is a Serial Killer of the highest caliber, and yet the FBI not only seeks him out for his expertise and assistance on cases, but they like and trust him enough to allow him into their personal lives as well. That dichotomy plays out brilliantly in Hannibal, and it never feels false or forced, not ever for the tiniest of seconds.

Aww, they're friends.
Mads Mikkelsen is every bit as good as Hannibal Lecter as Anthony Hopkins was. Yes, that sounds like the ravings of a madman, because Hopkins' portrayal of the psychopath is flawless, and is absolutely one for the ages. Silence of the Lambs is about as perfect as a motion picture can get. Red Dragon and Hannibal (the big screen version) have their flaws, but Hopkins is brilliant in both of them.

We've long been huge fans of Mikkelsen's work (and his brother's for that matter), so when it was announced that he was to play Hannibal Lecter, we were intrigued. How anybody not named Hopkins could ever pull it off, was beyond us, but hearing the name Mads Mikkelsen at least let us know that Bryan Fuller and De Laurentiis were serious about doing this the right way, and were doing everything they could to legitimize their small screen venture.

Mikkelsen's Lecter is sublime. He's laid back, likable, and almost seems subdued for most of his screen time, but every now and then we get flashes and glimpses at the maniac below the surface of the cool exterior, and it's truly compelling to watch.

I hope that if Sir Anthony Hopkins had any sort of inclination to sit down and see just what they've done with his beloved Hannibal here, that he'd smile, raise a glass and say "Well done, Mads. I'm quite pleased with your work here, and shan't have to eat your liver with a nice... well, you know."

It looks like Mads is actually reading what we wrote, doesn't it? Well he is!
As great as Mads is, Hugh Dancy is every bit as good as Will Graham. Watching his slow break from reality, and the unfolding of his pending mental collapse, was gut-wrenching at times. We're huge fans of Manhunter (1986) around here, and particularly of William Peterson's performance as Will Graham, and we can honestly say that we enjoy Dancy's (and to an extent, Fuller's) take on the tortured man just as much. He may not have the cowboy swagger that Peterson's version did, but he's made this character his own, and in grand fashion.

The rest of the cast does excellent work here as well. Laurence Fishburne was a great choice to play Jack Crawford, and his greatness is on display with every given beat. Caroline Dhavernas is as lovable and gorgeous here as she ever was, and we really love her as Alanna Bloom. Kacey Rohl is spectacular in this series as well, and it's sad to us to see that her performance as Abigail Hobbs seems to get passed over by many who discuss this show. Shame on them, because this kid has chops well beyond her years and experience.

Even the less prominent, minor, and guest starring characters are solid, and their respective actors realize each of them with great skill. Honestly, not one actor involved in this series feels miscast or out of their depth. I mean, how great was Eddie Izzard as Dr. Gideon? As a singular example, he represents the level of quality displayed by all of the actors involved in this show.

The ladies of Hannibal bring their A-game every bit as good as the boys do.
We should probably also mention that this is one gory TV Show. Along with the odd, crazy, dreamlike sequences that make Hannibal so visually unique, there's also a lot of disturbing imagery involving murders, bloodletting, and eating... yes, we said eating. Hannibal cooks for a lot of people on this show, and given that he likes him some human sweet breads, it's really uncomfortable to watch them eat his gourmet meals. Really.

We can't wait until Hannibal is finally revealed for the murderous cannibal that he is, and everyone in the show realizes that they've probably eaten some of his victims. Their faces and reactions are going to be priceless. We kind of hope that there's one solid episode dedicated to them just throwing up and freaking out about it. That would be fun.

Speaking of big reveals, the very last scene of Season One, in which Will looks at Hannibal and says "Hello, Dr. Lecter" as if meeting him for the fist time, and truly seeing him for what he is, and Hannibal's wry smile back to him, was simply perfect. It was devilishly good, and I'm not gonna lie, it made us kinda giddy. We may have even squealed a bit, and thrown our fist into the air an yelled "Yeah!" You'll never be able to prove that though, will you?

Bravo, Fuller.
The planned breakdown of Hannibal's Seasons goes like this:
  • 1-3 Tells the story of Hannibal in his murderous prime, and ends with WIll Graham catching him.
  • 4 is Manhunter, or Red Dragon, if you will, and perhaps the one we're most looking forward to.
  • 5 is Silence of the Lambs. So there might be a Clarice after all...
  • 6 is Hannibal.
  • 7 is the final Season, and it will conclude the story of Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter, with more all new, original content.
*Keep mind that the TV Seasons will follow the books, and not the movies. There are differences, even if some of them are small/subtle. 

I don't care if they ever get to the seasons (4-6) that tell the stories of Silence, Manhunter, and Hannibal. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat them up like a fat kid eating a pan of brownies, but I'm just saying that the Willl Graham-Hannibal story that Bryan Fuller has created is so compelling, that if they ended the series only having completed that, I'd be tickled bright fucking pink.

*Note to Bryan Fuller: Please do them all. Do not take my previous comment as being in any way dismissive. Also, maybe we could get a Wonderfalls movie, or something. Thank you, good sir.

The Bottom Line is this: if you love Hannibal Lecter, in any of his movie/book incarnations, then you will no doubt love this show. It is not a slap in the face to the Icon that some may fear it to be, not in any way, shape, or form. In fact, if this TV venture is anything, it's a warm, friendly, wet & bloody hug, from the creators to we fans. A hug that lingers a bit too long, and makes you feel really uncomfortable for enjoying it, like an embrace from a creepy Uncle. I mean, you love your Uncle to pieces and all, it's just that he's really fucking creepy...

You get the point.

We love you, Uncle Hannibal.
This visual quality of this show is cinematic, and it's honestly like watching a well-made movie. Of course that movie would be 7+ hours long, but still, it looks every bit as good as most big screen ventures do. As a TV Show, few others match its level of technical excellence. As a Network TV Show, it sets a new bar for production quality. Period.

As far as the Blu-ray transfer goes, the 1080p treatment only makes it look and play that much better. It may not be a perfect HD transfer (some have had issue with certain darker scenes), but it sure looked perfect to us. Bright, crisp, and often times breathtaking, this is one Blu-ray that had us marveling.

Oh, hi there.
Not only does the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix sound great here, but it plays a part in the story as well. The deeper Will Graham slips into his nightmare world, and the more his sanity crumbles, the more erratic and wild the music (and sound FX) get. We say it every time, but it truly bears repeating: we are not audiophiles. That said, this set sounds fantastic to our novice ears.

Can you hear the sounds of his madness? We can.
The Special Features included in this 3-Disc Set are pretty great. The Making-of Featurettes were interesting and they shed some light on what exactly went into bringing a property of this magnitude to the small screen. The Gag Reel was especially fun to watch, and had us genuinely laughing.

The best Special Feature to be found here though, is the fact that five of the episodes are "Producer Cuts." As if the versions of the episodes that originally aired on NBC weren't graphic enough, the Producer Cuts make the gory bits even more so. Add to that the inclusion of the un-aired episode, Ceuf, and this set has some great extra material that makes it all the more enjoyable.

  • 'Apertif' – Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy
  • Pilot Episode Storyboards
  • Hannibal Reborn (11:12)
  • A Taste for Killing (14:46)
  • Gag Reel (4:56)
  • 'Savoureux' – Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy.
  • A Symphony for the Slaughter (11:32)
  • The FX of Murder (14:23)
  • 'Will and Alana' – Deleted Scene (3:00)
Yes. Yes he did.
One of our favorite TV Shows of 2013 (and truly one of the best), Hannibal is an absolute treat that should be seen by all, Horror Fan or not. We don't buy too many TV Shows on Blu-ray, mainly because there are very few shows that we feel the need to own in a physical format, but this is definitely one of them. We'll be replaying this one more than a few times, I'm sure.

We've watched the series twice now, and we can honestly say that we liked it more during our Blu-ray viewing, and it has us chomping at the bit for Season 2 to get here in late February.

If you haven't checked this one out yet, then shame on you! We expect far better from you, because you're Horror Fans, and you are constantly hungry for new, quality material that will feed your creepy appetites. Well, this is just that. Do yourselves a favor and check it out asap, because you're missing out on something special if you don't.


The ladies of Hannibal are far lovelier than the material that surrounds them, don't you think? Thanks for the hotness Caroline, Kacey, Lara Jean, Gillian, and Hettienne. We can't wait to see you all die painfully!



  1. On the subject of TV what's Sleepy Hollow like? Is it a genre show much?

  2. I watched the first two episodes of Sleepy Hollow, and they felt a lot like Supernatural or Grimm; safe, fairly interesting, but didn't compell me to watch any further.

    Lots of people are saying it's pretty good, so maybe I should give it another go...

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  4. Very nice write-up and review. A truly enjoyable read. I agree on almost all of your points. I'd be quite dissapointed, should the ynot make it to season 7, though.
    Fuller seems to have a well thought out masterplan and I really want to see it unfold to completion.

  5. You know Phil, someone who actually works on the show said that if NBC bailed on Hannibal before it ran its course, that there have been several other Networks interested in picking it up.

    NBC only airs it, they had nothing to do with producing itt or paying for it, so for them not to run it and reap the benefits of whatever the make, would be silly. Like they could prodice a better show to put it its place?

    It should make it, at least somewhere. To be honest, I'd be thrilled to see it make it through Manhunter (Season 4) if niothing else.