The other day, my BFF John DeVore IMed me to say that he has a new favorite TV show and that show is “Hannibal.” At first I was like, WTF, dude, what about “Game of Thrones”? But then I remembered that JDV brought “GoT” into my life and has generally never steered me wrong pop culture-wise (sitting shotgun when he drives, on the other hand…). So, last week, when I was laid up at home with a case of strep so bad I will probably never stop talking about it, I watched every episode of the first season that’s aired so far and ZOMG you guys, I HAVE A NEW FAVORITE SHOW, IT’S CALLED “HANNIBAL” and here are seven reasons you need to watch it.
1. It is about one of supermarket literature’s most popular villains. Duh, Hannibal Lecter, the former psychiatrist turned serial killing cannibal from Thomas Harris’ Silence of the Lambs. “Hannibal” is based on Harris’ Red Dragon, which takes place before Lecter has been busted for any of his crimes. In the show, Hannibal — played by the creepily hot Mads Mikkelsen — is a practicing psychiatrist who has been brought in by the FBI to aid a special investigator and criminal profiler named Will Graham, who has the unique ability to empathize with killers. Hannibal offers Will his unique perspective, much as he does for Clarice Starling in Silence of the Lambs, only not from behind bars. But no one knows that Hannibal is so good at helping Will profile serial killers because he’s one himself.
2. It stars super dashing Hugh Dancy. Mr. Claire Danes plays Will, whose ability to empathize with (and by that I mean emotionally connect with not, like, sympathize) serial murderers who commit atrocious crimes allows him to imagine their state of mind, motivations and instincts. The job Will has been tasked to do takes an emotional toll, and he is plagued by nightmares, particularly after a major incident towards the beginning of the series. When he’s not trying to empathically connect with deranged murderers, Will is dealing with being socially awkward and withdrawn in real life. All that being said, he’s also lovely and fascinating and we often get to see him in just his boxers. It’s not supposed to be sexy, but it is.
3. Puppies! Will may have a hard time connecting with his fellow man, but that doesn’t mean he’s necessarily lonely. He’s taken in a number of stray dogs, all of whom sleep on their own little beds in his room, guarding over him while he sleeps. This love for animals just makes Will even more endearing and complicated a protagonist. He has certain similarities with another serial killer show lead — Dexter — but is also totally his opposite. Speaking of “Dexter”…
4. “Hannibal” is the most premium cable show on network TV. Save for the lack of curse words or nudity, “Hannibal” has the inventiveness, violence, darkness and dare of a Showtime or HBO drama. It shocks me that it’s on the same network as “All-Star Celebrity Apprentice” and manages to get away with as much as it does. One episode — the fourth — was actually pulled from On Demand because it was so disturbing. But like shows on HBO and Showtime, the pacing of each “Hannibal” episode can be slow, surreal and methodical — the viewer is given time to catch all of the tiny details that make the series so special. Oh yeah, and Laurence Fishburne is on it and he’s a bad ass.
5. There’s a lil’ dose of romance. I don’t need my stories to have romantic elements, but I sure don’t mind it when they do. “Hannibal” is almost entirely chick flick trope-free, but there are sparks between Will and his friend and fellow profiler, psychiatry professor Dr. Alana Bloom. Alana really gets Will and is probably the only one looking out for his well-being … but is there going to be something more between them? Guess we’ll find out…
6. It’s for avid foodies! Already watching the food TV shows Ami recommended last week and looking for something new and different? Hannibal is the show for you. Before he was locked in a cell dreaming of liver, fava beans and a nice Chianti, Hannibal was an exceptional amateur chef. Okay, so his culinary delights — often served to guests — are made up of human meat, but I swear, some of his dishes look so delectable, I’ve found my mouth watering and my stomach churning.
7. “Hannibal” fans need you to watch. Even though it’s the best damn show on network TV, no one is watching it. Its ratings have been steadily dropping all season, but maybe that’s because it’s been up against “Scandal.” Now that that show has had its season finale, “Hannibal” will have a shot to woo new, loyal fans before NBC makes the very possible decision to cancel it. On a personal note, I already lost my beloved “Enlightened.” I can’t lose “Hannibal” too. If you care about me at all and respect my taste in pop culture — you do, right? — you’ll give this fantastic show a shot.
“Hannibal” airs on NBC on Thursdays at 10 p.m.