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Hannibal – A Show You Should Be Watching (But Probably Aren’t)

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It’s no secret, the writers of Rock Paper Watch are all TV junkies. While there are shows that the three of us watch together, each writer also has their personal favorites. Starting a new blog series titled “A Show You Should Be Watching (But Probably Aren’t),” here are a couple of reasons why you should join us in our favorite thrill ride, Hannibal.

There’s this little thing called the Friday night death slot and for some reason all of my favorite shows end up there (see Friday Night Lights). Hannibal airs Friday nights at 10pm on NBC and has averaged 2.65 million viewers for season 2. At a time when TV horror is at the top (see American Horror Story, Penny Dreadful, Bates Motel, The Walking Dead, etc.) Hannibal is flailing. Why? Is it the awful Friday night time slot or is it something else? The season finale is Friday night and for a series that I love so much, let me tell you why it’s imperative to set your DVR and then spend the summer catching up.

It’s got a killer cast (ha, get it). The long list of TV and movie veterans includes Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, and special guest Gillian Anderson. It’s built on one of the most bankable franchises in literature and film and tells the twisted backstory of one of the most famous villains in cinematic history. What is interesting about Hannibal is that we already know what happens. We know that Dr. Hannibal Lecter finds himself behind bars eventually. Hannibal sets out to tell the story of how he got there. And boy, it’s a twisted story.

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Mads Mikkelsen’s portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter is on par with Anthony Hopkins (bold statement, I know). Mikkelsen’s Hannibal is so haunting that I physically cannot watch it before bed. He’s cold, dark, calculated, and detached. His counterpart on the show is Will Graham portrayed by Hugh Dancy. Will Graham is a criminal profiler and hunter of serial killers. He has a unique ability to empathize and understand the killers he tracks. The first season posed the question, how far can Hannibal push Graham before he loses it and becomes a killer himself? The second season is all about Graham’s mission to bring Hannibal’s true intentions to light while maintaining his sanity and desperately suppressing his natural instincts to kill.

This is where Hannibal is far more captivating than the other horror shows currently on air. It explores the most depraved depths of human nature. The series shows the journey of a cold, unfeeling murderer who just kills because of his own curiosity. It doesn’t use witches or zombies, like American Horror Story or The Walking Dead to justify the violence. It doesn’t care if you root for Hannibal or not, he’s not meant to be an anti-hero like Norman Bates or Dexter. He kills and then eats people because it is what he feels like doing.

Hannibal is often credited for being one of the sharpest dramas on TV. The writing is sleek, it’s haunting, and it’s artfully filmed. You may remember my recap of the premiere in which I stated, “The show is beautifully filmed.  It’s a quality that I didn’t anticipate from NBC.” This sentiment continued. Each week, I’m mesmerized by the show’s use of color, metaphorical imagery, culinary depictions (buh), and slow motion. That doesn’t mean it’s easy to watch. It completely disregards your gag reflex, the blood and gore is pretty gruesome. I spend a good portion of the show covering my eyes in horror.

So, Friday night. The second season opened with this flash forward, an epic fight between Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter.

At the time it aired, Will Graham was in a psychiatric prison after being framed for Hannibal’s crimes. Now he’s out and embarking on a mission to take down the psychiatrist. We still don’t know why Jack and Hannibal are duking it out in his chilly kitchen but we will get our answers Friday night. Will you be watching?

On May 9, NBC renewed Hannibal for a third season. If you are interested and want to catch up Season 1 is available for streaming on Amazon Prime. Bon appetite.

 

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Weekly Netflix Recommendation – ‘The Fall’

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As three post college grads, we are constantly trying to find ways of entertaining ourselves on a budget…which led us to three pretty serious Netflix addictions. Netflix never fails to feed our addiction for finding movies we’ve never heard of, or filling our need to binge watch shows we missed or just want to relive.  Each week, RPW will be posting about their Netflix finds. We hope you enjoy!

After celebrating Halloween a little too hard Saturday night, I wanted nothing more than veg on my couch and binge watch something on Netflix.  After cracking open a bag of Halloween candy and ordering Chinese, I wanted something kind of scary.  That’s when I remembered a Q&A with Jamie Dornan, the new Christian Grey, I read about The Fall.

The five-episode series aired in the UK on BBC Two over the summer.  The show is classified as a psychological thriller and follows two “hunters.”  The first being Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan), a bereavement counselor who stalks, torments, and eventually kills single, brunette, professional women in Belfast, Ireland.  Paul’s wife Sally (Bronagh Waugh) and their two young children are clueless to his double life.  The second hunter is female Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson), a Detective sent from the Metropolitan Police to review the investigation into the death of Alice Monroe, the daughter-in-law of a powerful politician (and Spector’s latest victim).

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Mostly, I started the show because I was curious about Dornan’s acting abilities.  I tuned-in for his brief stint on ABC’s Once Upon a Time and heard that his acting in this show was phenomenal.  It was.

His portrayal of Spector is haunting to say the least.  Dornan plays Spector as  a charming family man and adorable flirt then, as if on a dime, his entire face changes and he becomes a chilling, ruthless killer.  As you watch, Spector lurks in the shadows of women’s apartments and homes, taunts the police, and openly fantasizes about torturing women yet you find yourself hoping he doesn’t get caught.  It’s a delicate balance and Dornan does it beautifully.  He’s so believable that he gave my poor roommate nightmares (consider that a warning).

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On the other side of the coin, Gillian Anderson plays Gibson as a strong, independent woman.  For the detective, men are playthings.  She shows little emotion throughout the series, except when she finds herself relating the mind of the killer she’s chasing.  As she heads the task force set out to capture Spector you start to see her walls crack but she never falters.

The format of the show is set up so that one scene is from Spector’s perspective and the next from Gibson’s.  The show really shines, when the scenes intertwine.  For example, something is said in Gibson’s dialogue and the same language will show up in Spector’s scene.  The writing is superb.  The filmography is brilliant.  The camera captures the pyschological viewpoint with odd angles and quick transitions.

If you have a free afternoon, check out The Fall on Netflix and join the rest of us as we eagerly await season two, due next summer.