Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Great Time for Classic Killers


I'm watching TV again. Last time this happened was during the year 2010 where my heart broke into two with the shows Terriers and The Chicago Code.

Most likely every critic of Hannibal is going to zone in on Mads Mikkelson's titular performance. I am no different, it is fantastic. The role of Hannibal Lecter is a rather large one to fill and Mads succeeds in every possible way. What may get lost in the noise are the performances from Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne. Dancy as FBI agent Will Graham is wonderfully jittery in every scene, being the protagonist of the series it is hard not to root for him. Fishburne's Jack Crawford booms and controls the scenes he's in. Coming from his sleepwalking role in CSI, it's nice to see him back on the ball.

Besides the return of Hannibal Lecter on screen, the curious nature of the project is NBC themselves. Hannibal pushes the grotesque and horror past most other violent programs on television. Aside from swearing, the production is on par with premium channel shows. Striking one more nerve of its season, Hannibal will run for thirteen episodes. This kind of order is less than average for a network season, which are typically 21+ episodes. Another cue from premium channels again, or even BBC, who cap their shows to 10 or 12 episode seasons. This means Hannibal may avoid the plodding fat that usually plagues other shows. It emerges more and more Hannibal is NBC's experiment on a possible change up to normal primetime slots.

A real surprise of the year is Bates Motel on A&E. When first announced I thought it was a stupid idea. A prequel to Psycho with a teenage Norman Bates set in present day. I'm a bigger sort of man, I was wrong. What started as a courtesy watch for 10 minutes turned me into a full throttle fan. The show is good, don't make the same mistake I did.

Vera Farmiga and Freddie Highmore as Norma and Norman Bates have the awkward chemistry needed to make the roles work. Something creepy and unsettling, but at the same time sweet shows what kind of mental characters they are. The first episode is up on several sites, and saying anymore I feel takes away the impact, so go give it a courtesy watch. Like Hannibal, Bates Motel is running a shorter than average season. If you can take away that no one says, "Fuck" it is on par with an HBO/Showtime series.

I'm not a big guy on TV, very little excites me, but these two shows pass the grade. The stars must have aligned, a lost sunken city is rising somewhere, Yggdrasil is packing up its roots, because this should not have happened. Two reimaginings no one asked for, being good? My inner cynic is in disbelief, but here we are. Go out and enjoy some quality television for once.