Blu-ray Review “Hannibal: Season One”

Actors: Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Laurence Fishburne
Directors: David Slade, Guillermo Navarro, James Foley, John Dahl, Michael Rymer
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Lions Gate
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Run Time: 561 minutes

Series: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3.5 out of 5 stars

There has no shortage of Hannibal Lecter in films over the last 25 years including, “Manhunter”, “The Silence of the Lambs”, “Hannibal”, “Red Dragon”, “Hannibal Rising”. Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins and Gaspard Ulliel have all played the role of Hannibal over the years but I got to tell you Mads Mikkelsen really nails this character. He really does a great job and seals this show as a must watch. Laurence Fishburne is a beast and an awesome presence to the show. I wasn’t too familiar with Hugh Dancy but I am huge fan now as he also killed (pun intended) with this role. The show’s style is just so mesmerizing from the colors to the tone. I was in love with every episode. It is also quite brutal and may not be for those with a lack of stomach. Can’t wait for season two coming back sometime in 2014.

Official Premise: FBI Agent Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) hunts the most notorious serial killers. Graham is both gifted and cursed with an extraordinary ability: he can think like his prey, seeing what they see and feeling what they feel. What he doesn’t know is that his new partner is the most notorious serial killer of all. While pursuing an especially troubling, cannibalistic murderer, Special Agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) teams Graham with a highly respected psychiatrist – a man with a taste for the criminally minded: Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). Dr. Lecter tests Graham every step of the way, toying with him and playing a game all his own, while they work to unravel the mystery and catch the killer. Like only Lecter can, he twists Graham’s mind, daring him to question everything he knows about others…and himself.

Lionsgate Films really delivered an awesome Blu-ray presentation here. Besides the season’s 13 episodes, this three disc set also includes an episode that never aired and a “Producer’s Cut” versions of five others So it is a must revisit for fans of the series just for that alone. The episodes are gorgeous with their 1080p transfers in 1.78:1. Like I mentioned the style of the show, I just love the way it was shot and detail in this show just translate so well on this high def Blu-ray, especially Will’s “recreations” of the crime scenes. To accompany the video, the shows DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track also hits a home run, especially with the very creepy and moody score from Brian Reitzell.

The special features are just as great as the first season. They are split over the three Blu-rays. Disc One includes an audio commentary track with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy on the pilot “Aperitif”. Must listen for sure. Also included are Pilot Episode Storyboards. Disc Two includes “Hannibal Reborn”, which is a cool featurette on the series with interviews including Martha De Laurentiis, the Executive Producer. “A Taste for Killing” is a fun look at the cannibalistic subtext of the character. Lastly there is a gag reel for those who can’t take the gory moments, or just a collection of spoofs.

Disc Three is another great audio commentary track with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy on the episode, “Savoreux”. Like the first pilot, also very enjoyable with some fava beans and a nice chianti ;-). “A Symphony for the Slaughter” is a great piece on the series’ composer, Brian Reitzell. “The FX of Murder” looks into the amazing visual and design effects from this show. Lastly there is a short deleted scene included. So that wraps it up and it left me feeling very satisfied even though we have to wait a few more months before we can get some new episodes. Almost forgot to mention that Lionsgate also delivers by included an HD digital download of this series, which can be redeemed on Ultraviolet sites.

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Aaron Abrams talks about his role in NBC’s “Hannibal”

Aaron Abrams is co-starring as Brian Zeller in NBC’s “Hannibal.” He has appeared in various other TV shows including “NCIS: Los Angeles”, “Rookie Blue” and “Stargate: Atlantis.” He also wrote and co-executive produced “The L.A. Complex” for The CW. Media Mikes had a chance to chat with Aaron about this new show and what we can expect from his character.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your character Brian Zeller in “Hannibal”?
Aaron Abrams: Zeller is an FBI agent who works with a team to catch serial killers. He’s a bit of a medical genius, that’s his specialty, so its fun because I get to dig around in dead bodies and perform autopsies. It’s also cool because I think on most shows this kind of character can be dorky but that’s not the case here, I wear a leather jacket and pull a gun and stuff. Zeller may use a lot of big words, but he’s a dude.

MG: In order to get in the zone for the show; did you revisit films like “Red Dragon” etc?
AA: I re-read all the books and watched the films again. I own a DVD of “Manhunter”, I was kinda obsessed with it as a kid, so I knew it by heart anyway. It was the first scary movie I ever saw that wasn’t like a monster killing naked teenagers or something. It was creepy and terrifying, you know, like “Silence of the Lambs” was too. Zeller pops up in “Manhunter”, he’s played by Chris Elliott of all people. So, I’m hoping to resurrect all of his roles one by one. Next, I’m going to try to star in a re-launching of “Cabin Boy”.

MG: How is it working along side Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne?
AA: It’s super great. My character is pretty cocky so I get to mix it up with Hugh and Laurence a bit. I’ve often got ideas about the cases that aren’t necessarily shared by the rest of the crew. And often I’m quite belligerent about that. Thank goodness I don’t have a ton of scenes with Mads, I’m sure Hannibal would take great issue with me. And by “issue,” I mean “eat my face.”

MG: What is the vibe on the set?
AA: Well it’s a really dark show and my scenes can be particularly gruesome. So that’s sort of always lingering. But at the same time, Scott Thompson is there and he’s kind of an unstoppable tornado of hilarious. Hetty Park is too. Hugh is also a really funny guy. So there’s a lot lightening up the darkness around us.

MG:  I am a big fan of “Pushing Daisies”, did you get to hang with Bryan Fuller at all?
AA: Bryan is a great, great guy. He’s not just a showrunner, but a visionary. Like “Pushing Daisies” or “Wonderfalls” or any of his other work, he’s creating a whole world. People talk a certain way, there’s a very specific tone to everything, his use of color. He’s amazing to work with because not just because he makes super cool TV, but because he creates such a wonderful world to play in. Also, he’s always very well dressed. Which is nice.

MG:  How does working on this show compare from your other TV work?
AA: Well the simple answer I guess is that its very different because the show is unlike anything else I’ve ever seen on TV. There’s also a feeling on set that’s different, like everyone knows this is different then other FBI shows, or other serial killer shows, or really anything…so there’s this sense on set that you’re doing something very cool. As far as my character, I’ve played a lot of different kinds of belligerent douches. “LA Complex” was a Hollywood douche, Rookie Blue was a tough guy douche, “NCIS” was a nerd-douche. “Stargate Atlantis”…Alien douche. But Zeller is by far the smartest of them all. I’d even say that he’s so smart that he ceases to be a douche at all. He’s just a smart dude with strong opinions. But I dunno. I guess we’ll have our answer if I piss off Hannibal and he eats my face off.


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Bryan Fuller & Hugh Dancy talk about new TV series “Hannibal”

Hannibal Lecter. The one man you never want to see at the dinner table. Named the #1 Villain in film history by the American Film Institute. Since first appearing in author Thomas Harris’ novel, “Red Dragon,” the cannibal with the PhD has appeared in five feature films, including the Oscar winning Best Picture, “Silence of the Lambs.” Now, thanks to Executive Producer Bryan Fuller, Dr. Lecter makes his television debut in the new original series, “Hannibal.” The show features Mads Mikkelsen as the good doctor, Hugh Dancy as FBI agent Will Graham and Laurence Fishburne as Graham’s superior, Jack Crawford. The show debuts tonight (April 4) at 10:00 pm EST on NBC.

To get the word out about the show, Executive Producer Bryan Fuller and co-star Hugh Dancy sat down with Media Mikes to talk about the new show, fans of the films and exactly how much is TOO much?

Media Mikes: In going deeper into Hannibal Lecter, how much new territory did you feel there was to explore given what’s already been written?
Bryan Fuller: Well given what’s already been written, I thought there was a lot that existed that hadn’t been explored yet. So I was really excited at the opportunity to really explore things that didn’t make it to any of the movies. They’ve made a handful of films and because of the limited real estate that you have in doing a movie that we’re doing a television series that gets you 13 hours a season, we were able to get into much more specifics with the character, particularly Will Graham’s character who Hugh Dancy plays so magnificently and wonderfully neurotically. He was traditionally played as a stoic leading man. And what we get because of the really complex psychology of the character that’s in the literature, we get to explore that in a way that nobody has before. So that was very exciting.

MM: Hugh, since Will was already established in the books, what was the biggest challenge for you to make him unique to you?
Hugh Dancy: Well I think the challenge laid is just in the fact that Thomas Harris created, and then Bryan interpreted, such a complicated character. I wasn’t worried about the fact that he already existed on the page. If anything I think that’s helpful to have a blueprint for your performance written by a great writer. You have something to turn to. And I certainly went to the first place after I met with Bryan and we spoke, the first place I went to is back to the novel and really tried to use that as a launch pad.

MM: Bryan, can you talk a little bit about the casting and finding the perfect cast? Why you felt that Hugh was perfect for Will and especially why Mads was perfect for Hannibal?
BF: One of the reasons that Hugh was so ideal for the role is that Will Graham, who is kind of burdened by his own neuroses and personality disorders, could come off as unlikable unless you have an actor who kind of invites you into his vulnerability with those neuroses and with those personality disorders that actually gives you permission to care for them as opposed to being pushed away. And Will Graham is a character who pushes people away and has barriers that he throws up as social defenses. So we needed somebody who had a vulnerability that kind of transcends any sort of barriers that he throws up and takes you into the world and allows you to care for him even though he is so buttoned up and damaged. That was the main reason. And Hugh was unanimous. When we all sat down and we talked about who was our Will Graham. Hugh Dancy’s name came up and it was very easy for all of us to say like “oh yeah, he’s the one. Let’s meet with him and see if we can hook him.”

MM: As far as being visually graphic, is there anything that NBC has told you that you can’t do?
BF: Oh yeah. There’s lots. What’s been really great about working with NBC on this project is that they recognize that they are doing a horror show and the show is called “Hannibal Lecter.” And they have, you know, put us on at 10 o’clock for a reason – so we can maximize what we can show to honor the genre and also provide fans of the genre certain ingredients that they are expecting to see. But there’s absolutely places where they won’t allow us to go. And that’s too far and you need to come back from that. It’s always a push/pull because it’s like “ooh, can we do this” and we show it to them and they’re like “ooh, not that one.” So it’s definitely collaboration and they’re taking it very seriously. They’re aware that they are presenting a horror show and they have to honor that audience. But we’re not necessarily – I would love to be going a lot further. But NBC keeps on reminding me where the line is. And that’s the responsibility as a broadcast network. But they have been very, very supportive in terms of what we can do and going as far as we can without being X rated.

MM: Can you give an example or two? What are some of the things that they said no to?
BF: Arterial spray. There are some episodes where going back through I was like “ooh, you know, I hope we get to release the DVD version of the “Unsuitable for Broadcast Television” collection of the show.” So eye gouging, seeing people’s intestines being removed from their bodies in great, you know, noodly clumps. Those types of things they tend to say, ummm… no.” Which they should because I think, as an artist in the role of executive producing the show, I want to please the core audience more than anyone and it’s NBC’s responsibility that we don’t go so far that we alienate members of the audience who are willing to stick through some of the horror elements but we can’t, you know, drop a bucket of blood on them and expect them to have a good time.