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Hannibal Television Series Gets a Pick Up

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | February 16, 2012 |

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Industry | February 16, 2012 |

So part of the process of writing a trade news post is searching our archive to make sure that nobody else already wrote up the news. And sometimes one finds a bit from a few months previous with an early iteration of the news, which allows us those catchy little intros like “as the mighty TK penned with his keyboard of lightning last June…” My favorite is when I find that I’m the one who posted on the story, and have absolutely no recollection of it. It’s like early onset Alzheimer’s except I forget bad movie and television rumors instead of loved ones.

In any case, as the mighty and feared SLW reported in September, a television series based on America’s most beloved cannibal was in the works. Flashing back to retell the story of how Hannibal Lecter was originally tracked and caught by Will Graham, the series has been picked up for a thirteen episode first season by NBC. Here’s the official short summary: “One-hour contemporary thriller series featuring the classic characters from Thomas Harris’ novel Red Dragon - FBI agent Will Graham and his mentor Dr. Hannibal Lecter - who are re-introduced at the beginning of their budding relationship.”

I don’t mean to be negative (it really just comes naturally at this point), but it just doesn’t seem like a winner for two reasons. First, this is a series that quickly goes past its sell-by date because we already know the punchline. How many times is Graham going to get advice just a little too close to the truth from the good Doctor and expect the audience to gasp as he just misses figuring it all out? For it to work, the series has to be relatively short, because otherwise to string it along they’ll just have to play it into a knock off of “Criminal Minds.”

Second, the elephant in the room will always be Anthony Hopkins. The first couple of books in the series were decent enough, though I didn’t find them particularly memorable, but it is not the character of Lecter is not in and of himself worthy of all this attention. Rather, it’s precisely the character as brought to life by Hopkins that has become legendary. If Hopkins didn’t play that role, this series would not be being made, end of story, which is extraordinarily problematic in terms of casting. This is like saying that Heath Ledger’s Joker was so incredible that we’re now going to make a television series starring that exact interpretation of the Joker. With a new actor. Let’s just say those are fairly long odds.

Steven Lloyd Wilson is the sci-fi and history editor. You can email him here or follow him on Twitter.

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