* * * B
Hannibal gets off to a very strong start with its excellent first season. The second season is very good. Unfortunately, the final season is weak. In the title roll, Mads Mikkelsen is chilling as the good Doctor. When he takes FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) as a patient, the two form a bizarre bond. Meanwhile, Will and his colleges investigate serial killers and murders.
The supporting cast is excellent: Will’s boss Jack Crawford (Laurence “Morpheus” Fishburne), his love interest Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavernas), tabloid journalist Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), and Hannibal’s psychiatrist Bedelia Du Maurier (Gillian “Scully” Anderson) round out the main cast. The look is chillingly beautiful, the plot nail biting, even knowing where the story will end.
My biggest disappointment with Hannibal is the weak writing in the third season. It starts off with Hannibal on the run, and the writers are pressed to force all of the characters into the story. After a very lame ending to the first half of the season, the second half is a third retelling of the story from the novel Red Dragon. The second film is a far better version of the story, though the series version isn’t without some merit, offering a variant look at the material.
The series takes some liberties with the source, including making Freddy Lounds a woman (Lounds was played by Philip Seymour Hoffman on film). This is done with a light touch, and works well. If you’re willing to live with a gap between the events of the TV series and Red Dragon, I recommend watching only the first two seasons of the series. They are certainly not to be missed by fans of the books or the films.