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Exclusive : Story, Character details for Hannibal

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“Hannibal” is one of two new series – this one further along than the other by the looks of things – centering around characters from Thomas Harris’s page-turners “Red Dragon” and “Silence of the Lambs” .
Though both “Hannibal” (NBC) and “Clarice” (Lifetime) will both likely feature the iconic character of Hannibal ‘The Cannibal’ Lecter (the role Anthony Hopkins won an Oscar for from his work in Jonathan Demme’s “Silence of the Lambs”), it’s in the former that he’ll be a permanent attraction.

“Hannibal”, a new 13-episode series from “Pushing Daisies” and “Wonderfalls” creator Bryan Fuller, is a procedural that sees agent Will Graham teaming with a per-incarcerated Hannibal Lecter to solve crimes. Jack Crawford, Graham’s partner in crime (so to speak), will also be assisting on helping to solve the show’s weekly mystery.

Here’s the cast…
Hugh Dancy - Will Graham
Mads Mikkelsen - Dr. Hannibal Lecter
Laurence Fishburne – Jack Crawford
Caroline Dhavernas – Dr. Alana Bloom

Here I take a look at the pilot for the series.

Storyline in a Nutshell :
Someone is out there abducting college girls. The victims’ bodies have never been found, so there’s some hope (at least until the authorities discover the reason these girls bodies have never been found is because someone’s eaten them for breakfast) that all or some of the eight may be found alive.

Will Graham, now a teacher because of some complex mental issues (bordering on aspergers), is coaxed back into the field by the head of the behavioral science unit, Jack Crawford. Since it’s been eight months that this abductor/killer has been on the loose, and he’s just grabbed his latest victim, the feds are desperate to catch the guy.

Though Crawford’s a little worried that Graham – who has social anxieties and then some – might struggle here and there on the job, he needs his brilliance to find the killer. Graham, being able to empathize with screw loose people, is someone who can sniff out a bad guy’s motivation fairly quickly.

In this case though, Graham needs assistance – someone who can read the ‘Cannibals’ mind even better than he can. The feds recruit Dr Hannibal Lecter, a loopy but brilliant doc, who joins the former and Crawford on the case. Lecter sees it not so much as a chance to do something good for the community (well, anyone that knows Hannibal Lecter knows that he’s got to be involved in the case for a start, right!?), but an opportunity to play with the equally unstable Graham.

About the characters :
Will Graham, almost a Yankee take on Benedict Cumberlatch’s Sherlock, is riddled with eccentricities but primed with intelligence. He’s good looking, but oblivious to the admirers that surround him. He’s quite aware he’s made up of some different bits, remarking at one stage that he could even have aspergers. He’s been teaching because he couldn’t handle the social requirements and, according to his colleagues, has a “fear” of, well, almost everything.

He may find it difficult to look people in the eyes when he talks to them, but Graham can also work out the same person pretty quickly – especially those, like him, who suffer from mental disorders.

He’s not the ‘cool cat’ ladies man (in fact, this guy lives with his dog) that William Peterson played in “Manhunter” – this guy is slightly odder. Instead of designer suits and hair salons, the Graham in “Hannibal” is more likely to be spending his cash on text books.

When we first meet Graham in the pilot he’s teaching a class at Quantico, when he’s approached by special agent Jack Crawford, of the behavioural science unit, about doing some field work. Seems Graham has been out of the field for a while now.

The case : Eight girls from eight different Minnesota college campuses have been abducted over the past eight months. The man has been nicknamed the Minnesota shrike.

They have a good team working on the case (a whole “Criminal Minds”-esque outfit) but need more. They need Graham, but also someone even more brilliant, Hannibal (in his forties or so here) – back before he was behind bars.

Lecter does more to rattle than assist.

“Uncle Jack sees you as a fragile little tea cup”, Hannibal says at one point to Graham, adding that he thinks he and the agent are actually match perfect for one another (not the kind of compliment one likes to hear).

It is clear off the bat that Hannibal and Graham don’t get along, largely because Hannibal loves psychoanalyzing Graham. The Doctor loves pushing his buttons. Crawford knows how to handle Hannibal better, but he’s also being played and probed most of the time too. Sadly, it’s Graham that usually ends up sharing a rental car or motel room with Lecter.

(There’s a great scene at a cafe, where Graham, Crawford and Lecter are sharing a bite, in which the good doctor keeps pushing and pushing Graham – – until the young FBI profiler has no choice but to slam his chair in and wait outside, just to get himself together.)

Oh, and Lecter?

Naturally, Lecter’s also moonlighting as a killer. The man gets about as Ethan Hunt to disguise his double life – using disguises, switching plates on cars, and so on.

No doubt it’ll take a season or so before Graham begins to trigger onto the fact that Lecter is the one they should be hunting down, not hunting with.

Aside from the three central characters, there’s, as I said, a diverse mix of young FBI employees who assist on most cases; an attractive young psychology professor named Alana Bloom – who may have a crush on Graham, and vice versa; and Freddie Lounds, a do-anything-for-the-story style journalist.

So?
All-in all, and largely thanks to the juicy dialogue and intriguing mix of characters, “Hannibal” seems as if it might be one of the free-to-air highlights of the next twelve months.


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About Caffeinated Clint

The writer/publicist/producer who wears the editor hat on Moviehole. Favorite films include "Say Anything...", "The Hunt for Red October", "Jerry Maguire", "Almost Famous", "Die Hard", "The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo", "Young Guns", "American Psycho", "Back to the Future" and the "Star Wars" series.
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