Friday, June 7, 2013

★ ★ ★ ★

Late to the dinner party watching the very solid NBC series "Hannibal." Still three episodes to go, so no spoilers.

The show is skillfully crafted at just about every level. The orchestration of its "workplace drama" approach to creating the backstory of Lector and Graham, who at this early stage are colleagues, enables their by-play as a mutual-admiration team of agitated crime-solvers. It would be fun to think of Hugh Dancy as an Aspie Watson to Mads Mikkelson's super-elegant, flesh-eating Holmes, but in practice the characters and the amount of screen time they receive are carefully balanced. Neither is sidekick to the other.

I like the fact that show is made in a continually overcast Canada, the nation that supplied the crucial drizzly atmosphere of the early seasons of "The X-Files." Also the fact that it's being produced in European-style 13-episodes seasons, which mandates tight, padding-free storytelling with a clear arc. It's consistently clever. There are images and situations that resonate with earlier installments of the Lector saga, such as a the glass-walled asylum cells introduced in "Silence of the Lambs," this time inhabited by a special guest psychopath played by a puffy Eddie Izzard.

Show's not in a hurry to reveal Lector's secret to the other characters. This gives the central wary friendship between Will and Hannibal some of the will-they-or-won't-they tension of a rom com crime show like "Castle." We fear, as fans of that show did, that when the true character of the relationship emerges, a lot the fizz will fizzle away.

Of course it's a running gag that the dinner invitation everybody else on the team wants is Hannibal's, to one of his elaborate sit-down feasts. ("What's this I'm putting into my mouth?" "Rabbit.") The show's food stylist blogs here about the suggestively chunky and organic looking food-art meals she creates for these occasions, effectively representing the stylistic consistency of Lector's various creative enterprises.

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