Over the last two decades the character of Hannibal Lecter has been ravaged beyond all recognition, from sequels to prequels, the world’s most famous cannibal has lost his teeth.
So the prospect of NBC teaming up with the uber geek writer Bryan Fuller to create a Hannibal TV series is about as exciting as key hole surgery.
The 13-part series has been described by the network as having “juicy dialogue and [an] intriguing mix of characters”. The characters in question are FBI agent Will Graham, who featured in Manhunter (William Peterson) and Red Dragon (Edward Norton), and of course the good doctor himself.
Graham’s screen history is choppy to say the least, which is entirely down to Norton’s portrayal, which happened soon after he gave up acting and starting being an extra in mid- range genre movies that never take any money.
Despite this the character of Graham is actually a very interesting one. While Clarice Starling was a principled hillbilly who refused to fuck her way to the middle of the FBI- Graham is far more complex. Indeed, it is his innate ability to understand sociopaths that make him successful professionally while at the same time tormenting him personally.
Over the years the character of Lecter has evolved into a kind of camp monster- a bit like a gay Freddie Kruger- however there is of course still the fantastic literary character that Thomas Harris conceived and Anthony Hopkins brought to life.
What made the books and Michael Mann’s screen adaptation of Manhunter successful, was the genius of Lecter contrasted with the brilliance of Graham. In fact, Lecter actually respects and admires Graham for being the only person to truly out-wit him.
Two things that Bryan Fuller needs to get right is the writing and the casting. His previous projects, particularly Heroes, would suggest that he is capable of making this a success. As for the casting; Hugh Dancy (Graham), Mads Mikkelsen (Lecter) and Laurence Fishburne (Agent Jack Crawford) are promising choices. Mikkelsen particularly is a fine actor who has yet to find the right vehicle for his undoubted talent. Despite the uneven history of the subject matter, Hannibal definitely has potential to be a huge hit.