Hannibal: 1.05 “Coquilles”

HANNIBAL: 1.05 “Coquilles”

As you may know, NBC pulled episode 4 of Hannibal in light of the tragic Boston marathon bombing and subsequent manhunt for the suspects (an event that I found a bit too geographically close from comfort, though that’s another story). I can only assume, based on brief plot summaries of that episode (children killing children, or something), that it may have wrapped up the storyline with Hobbes’ daughter. I’ll have to catch up on it sometime soon, but thankfully watching that episode wasn’t necessary to enjoy this one.

We get another serial killer this week, which is starting to worry me a bit. How many crazy, brutal serial killers are there, really? If there were three or four major killers caught by the FBI within a couple of months of each other, the nation would be in a panic. It’s getting a little hard for me to suspend my disbelief; I’d really like to start seeing the show carry the same case or two over more than just one week. That said, this week’s killer and his “design,” as Will would put it, is very gruesome, as he peels back the skin on the back of his victims to form wings. He’s motivated by a sense of religious fervor, plus a terminal brain tumor that causes hallucinations. Aside from the way in which the killer executed his victims, he wasn’t a particularly interesting villain, and mainly just served as a way to amplify both Jack and Will’s personal crises.

Jack’s problem begins with his wife, who we learn has terminal cancer and is afraid to tell her husband. He eventually finds out the truth, and Laurence Fishburne does a great job of showing Jack’s quiet devastation, feeble attempts at putting up a strong exterior, and quiet melancholy.

Will, in the meantime, is breaking down under the strain of all he’s been asked to do lately. He’s not sleeping, and when he is, he sleepwalks and wakes up in strange places. Finally, his hallucinations are intensifying, from the dark deer that he’s been stalking for a few episodes, to a vision of this week’s dead serial killer. Crawling into the minds of these men is seriously destabilizing him and by the end of the episode, it seems like he may be close to giving it up and heading back to teaching.

Finally, the more I watch this show, the more I am enjoying its depiction of Hannibal himself. His odd shaped, heavy lidded face, his indistinct European accent, and the elegance and refinement in which he cloaks himself (from his shirt-vests or perfect Windsor-knotted tie to his decanter of fine wine and the classical music softly piped into his dining room) makes him fascinatingly, attractively interesting and yet utterly sinister at the same time.


Hannibal: Aperitif


HANNIBAL: 1.01 “Aperitif”

Before last week, I had no interest at all in NBC’s new show, Hannibal. I think Silence of the Lambs is a classic movie horror/crime mash-up, and while I barely remember Red Dragon and Manhunter, I think they were both pretty good too. Years ago, I read all the books, though I do remember being thoroughly disappointed by the ridiculous outcome to the final book in the series (also titled Hannibal, I believe). Anyway, I’m well familiar with Thomas Harris’s serial killer, both his film and literary incarnations, but I wouldn’t consider myself a fanboy. I figured this show was just going to be another crappy procedural trying to cash in on the memory of a now 22-year-old movie. I started getting a little curious, though, when some critics I respect, like Alan Sepinwall and Andy Greenwald, came out with some surprisingly positive reviews. I’m glad I was encouraged to check in on the series, because Hannibal is the best thing that I’ve seen on NBC, and many cable channels, for a long while.

Yes, the show is gore-soaked and exceedingly graphic for network TV, but I guess NBC has to try and push some buttons given their ratings. I particularly like how stylized the show looks; there are strange camera angles, sharp and sudden focuses on individual objects, a color palette that seems just slightly off and surreal, and plenty of hallucinations as our main character, FBI profiler Will Graham, uses his imagination to vividly reenact crime scenes while putting himself in the perspective of the killer. The first episode ends, spoiler spoiler spoiler, with him gunning down a serial killer who has a knife at a young girl’s neck. Graham’s clearly distraught by what he’s seen and what he has to do, as he shakes like a leaf and appears nearly incapable of functioning right after he pulls the trigger. I have a feeling that the psychological consequences of experiencing and imposing violence might actually be explored in this show. If so, it’d be a welcome contrast to the standard police procedural, in which a new body is dumped on a table in the first five minutes, and our heroes wind up capturing or killing the person responsible in the last five minutes, secure in the knowledge that they are righteous champions of justice and goodness. Graham may have done the right thing here, but it seems to me that the consequences of that action won’t be wiped clean off the slate at the start of the second episode.

Mads Mikkelsen plays a great, though different Hannibal. While he comes across as wonderfully sinister and frightening to the audience (particularly in this episode when we see him cooking dinner; the long apron that he wears made my skin crawl, that’s because we know his secret). To the other characters in the show, he’s a plausibly aloof and brilliant doctor, with no reason to suspect he might be a cannibal.

I’ve been hooked immediately. Much to my surprise. I have to say again that the hyper stylized nature of the show is something that really draws me in; the colors, the camera angles, the flashbacks, quick cuts, and weird dream-like sequences just fascinate me, and I can’t wait to see more. I hope it succeeds wildly, because as fun as it is to bash NBC for terrible ratings, something this compelling needs to stay on the air, no matter what network it happens to be on.

Hey, Boston! Here’s Your Chance to See ‘Revolution’ Before It Premieres!

What would you do if tomorrow you had no electricity? Everything was off, and you had to survive?

That’s what NBC’s new show Revolution aims to find out. In this epic adventure from J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot Productions and Supernatural‘s Eric Kripke, a family struggles to reunite in an American landscape where every single piece of technology — computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights — has mysteriously blacked out forever. A drama with sweeping scope and intimate focus, Revolution is also about family — both the family you’re born into and the family you choose.

This is a swashbuckling journey of hope and rebirth seen through the eyes of one strong-willed young woman, Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos, Being Human), and her brother Danny (Graham Rogers, Memphis Beat). When Danny is kidnapped by militia leaders for a darker purpose, Charlie must reconnect with her estranged uncle Miles (Billy Burke, The Twilight Saga), a former U.S. Marine living a reclusive life. Together, with a rogue band of survivors, they set out to rescue Danny, overthrow the militia and ultimately re-establish the United States of America. All the while, they explore the enduring mystery of why the power failed, and if — or how — it will ever return.

Revolution premieres on NBC on Monday, September 17, at 10/9c, but for some of you in the Boston area, you can see it even earlier.

That’s right. On Thursday, September 6, at 7:30 pm, there will be a screening of the first episode of Revolution at the AMC Boston Common for some special Boston viewers. All you have to do is a few simple steps.

First, go to this link for your ticketDownload and print your ticket. There is a limited number of tickets, so get yours soon!

Second, show up. Seating is first-come, first-served, so make sure to show up early to get a seat.

Third, enjoy! 

And that’s it! Not only will you get a fun night out, but you’ll even get the bragging rights of having seen the show more than a week before anyone else!

Want to know more? Check out the Revolution website, where you can watch an extended trailer, read about the cast, and even play a game. And don’t forget to watch the show when it premieres on the 17th!

Thursday Open Thread: Your Olympics Viewing Experience

A lot has been said lately about the Olympics this year. Since it’s considered the first “social media Olympics,” that means a lot more people are on Twitter, reporting reactions to events and winners at speeds like no other. I’m not following the headlines religiously on Twitter, but the few moments I peruse Facebook in the course of the day has shown me quite a few reactions and photos that reveal winners of the day’s events.

Now you all know me. I’m not the biggest sports fan. But I do enjoy the Olympics. Now, some “spoilers” I could care less about (I have a whole different post I could write about whether these should really be coined “spoilers,” but I won’t digress here), and others — like the women’s team gymnastics final — I really wanted to be surprised by, so in those cases, I keep my distance. That being said, these are taking place five hours before my viewing experience, so if I find out, I find out.

But I’m in the minority. There have been many people upset by the coverage, the spoilers, what they’ve seen, and what they haven’t. NBC’s being attacked left, right, up, down, and in between. I’m not NBC’s biggest cheerleader (if you met me in the ’90s, you would be hearing something else entirely), but I can’t say I’m really against what they’ve done so far. If anything, I’d follow the message of this guy and The Onion over those complaining. But again, I digress.

How has your Olympic experience been? Have you enjoyed it? Are you annoyed with being spoiled? Have you even noticed the social media buzz at all? How are you watching, and what are you missing?

Now’s the time to spill it. Let it all out. There you go. Just comment.

*image from nbcolympics.com

Community Open Thread: Your Favorite Episode

Community is back tonight. This is a good thing, because without it, NBC’s comedy lineup is a wasteland (I’m looking at you, Whitney.) The show has struggled in the ratings throughout its entire run, but so has the rest of NBC’s lineup this year. It as a small, but devoted core of followers. Perhaps these two factors, along with the news that Comedy Central will start airing reruns, means we may have some hope for another season. Until we hear one way or another, though, I’m just going to sit back and enjoy whatever’s left of this season as best as I can.

In honor of Community‘s return, I thought I’d pose a question: What’s your favorite episode? For me, it’s got to be “Contemporary American Poultry” from near the end of season one. The gang works out a mafia style plan to control the cafeteria’s supply of chicken fingers; it’s a great homage toGoodfellas, one of my favorite movies. Before this episode, I knew this show was good and unique, but this one really convinced me that it was something special.

What’s your favorite episode?

Community Returns March 15th! (The Preview)

Bahhhh! If you weren’t watching The Soup last night (or watching the web today), you may have missed the new preview of the return of Community. And man, is it good.

Man, is it good!

Check it out below:

Not only does it look, well, kickass and hilarious, but did I see a massive pillow fight in there?! Huzzah!

Ok, all awesomeness aside, there’s one thing to note: WATCH IT LIVE ON NBC. If you didn’t get that message, let me reiterate: Do you want NBC to renew Community? Do your part. Watch it live. Clearly, if NBC’s touting that message at the end of its promo, it’s an important thing to do. Not sure how they’ll be making their renewal decisions, but one thing’s for sure: Live watching counts.

So watch the return of Community (and all those thereafter) on March 15th. It’s only a week away! And I can hardly contain my excitement.

NBC’s “Brotherhood of Man”

You can’t say NBC doesn’t take advantage of hosting the Super Bowl. In honor of the night, NBC’s got a great new commercial for it’s shows (even the ones not currently on the air, grrr.) Nonetheless, it’s nice to see some of our favorites display their musical talents — and revisit our community at Community after too long of a break.

Enjoy the “Brotherhood of Man.”

This is a shortened version, but if you want to see the full video, check it out here.