tv thoughts: Hannibal, Season 1

Hannibal Season 1 DVDs

For those of you that don’t know, I have a three person rule for new tv shows. I generally ignore them until three different people that I respect say something positive about them. Two of my livejournal friends had been raving about this show for ages and I had put the DVD on request at the library. When it arrived on my desk, my co-worker commented how awesome and messed up the show is. So that was it, three people, I had to watch.

I’m only familiar with Hannibal from Silence of the Lambs. I had passed on all the other movies and I have not read any of the other books. The series is loosely based on the prequel novel Red Dragon (which writer/director Bryan Fuller has tweeted is where the series will be by Season 4).

The series takes place long before Silence of the Lambs when Hannibal was just a psychiatrist (he is still a cannibal, obviously, but he hasn’t been caught yet). But even though the show bears his name, the main character is actually Will Graham. His mental state, somewhere along the Asperger’s spectrum, let’s him get into the mind of serial killers and, in the first episode, he helps the FBI capture a wanted man. Hannibal “helps” by providing psychiatric feedback to prove that Graham is capable of taking on these cases without losing his mind.

Bryan Fuller is the show runner. I loved Dead Like Me, Pushing Daisies and Wonderfalls. The thing I enjoy about Fuller’s shows is that he usually has a theme that ties the series together. DLM spent a lot of time discussing death and how we all process it. Pushing Daisies also focused on loss, but also on love as the Ned the pie maker had to live with a requited love that could never be…well, requited. Wonderfalls had a very cynical main character being pulled into a weird “fate” story (I always said it was like Joan of Arcadia but without all the God stuff…just oddness). (and I was thrilled to see Caroline Dhavernas’s name in the opening credits). Hannibal, so far, has an underlying theme of identity – who are we? How do we see ourselves? How do we present ourselves to others? What do we hide underneath?

There have been some great first season guest stars that you’ll recognize from other Fuller shows. And the wonderful Gillian Anderson also appears in a good portion of the season. (And I’m pretty sure they using the same font that was used in Silence of the Lambs (and X-Files) when showing us the locations, which tickled my homage geek funny bone.)

I didn’t pay any attention to the show at first because I was concerned that they would try to make me root for Hannibal. But by the end of the first episode, you realize this is not the goal of the show. Hannibal is already a psychopath. The tension in the show is that YOU the audience knows this. Yet we watch him slowly manipulate those around him. And he’s very good at it. And then you wonder if you would fall for it and you realize, yes, you would. He is educated and refined (the way Mads Mikkelsen slowly waves the wine glass under his nose before each sip hypnotizes me every time). He comes highly recommended.

I will warn you that the show is VERY graphic. I’ve already experience a few moments that made my stomach flip and a few scenes that managed to haunt me when I went to bed that night. Especially if you get the DVD, which has “producer’s edits” which may contain some extra gruesome stuff. But the stuff that aired on TV is pretty gruesome on it’s own. Will usually has to look at a murder and then they re-enact it on the screen, which I now watch through my fingers so I can quickly save myself from the splurts of blood and up-close shots of mutilated bodies. Oh, and don’t forget, Hannibal is a CANNIBAL and he does a lot of cooking.

I don’t want to say much else. This is not a police procedural. Crimes happen and they attempt to solve them, but the show is about Hannibal and Will and their relationship, which is what makes it so hard to stop watching.

If you can stomach it, I highly recommend Season 1 of Hannibal.

X Files – my first fandom

So, apparently today is the 20th Anniversary of the premiere of X-Files. Which means I have many feels. And apart from feeling old, I’m feeling nostalgic because this show was really my first fandom.

Technically, I shouldn’t really celebrate MY anniversary of the show until April 22 of 2014 because the first episode I ever saw was “Tooms“. I remember it well. I was home with my little brother, babysitting while my parents were out running errands or some such. We were both enjoying The Adventure of Brisco County Jr and we knew that the show after it was supposed to be really scary. Vincent was sitting next to me as the credits rolled for Brisco and we both made an unspoken agreement to see what the scary show was like. I remember sitting on the couch, both of us sorta bracing ourselves. The show appeared to be starting…the little FOX logo had popped up in the corner. It was really dark…I pressed the volume button up a few notches but didn’t really hear anything…it appeared to be some kind of hallway, maybe a prison…volume up a little more…then SCARY EYES!!!!!!!!!! And, BLARING OUT OF THE SPEAKERS CAME:

I screamed, pressed the volume button down as quickly as I could…but it was too late. I was hooked.

I spent the rest of the summer, tuning in every Friday night. I learned how to program the VHS player to record episodes when I wasn’t home and soon mastered the art of recording on SLP mode, editing out commercials, getting 7 episdoes on a 6 hour VHS. I even transferred the Pilot and E.B.E. to cassette and listened to them on my walkman while sitting in the backyard and with my walkman on the school bus in the morning and they were soon committed to memory.

Yeah, I was hardcore.

Soon, I was on the Prodigy message boards, reading tame fanfic (like reworkings of the Cinderella story with Scully as the heroine) and finding early filk lyrics. I had a poster of David Duchovny on the wall and I printed out DDEB (David Duchovny Estrogen Brigade) cards to carry in my tween wallet. I even wrote a script, my own fanfic, which I passed around to my 8th grade class, getting feedback. Everyone knew it was my show, they knew trying to contact me on a Friday after 9pm was hopeless. I signed up for an unofficial fan club when the show was truly just a cult show, getting a photocopied ‘zine sent to my house every few months (whenever the person in charge had time to get it all together).

I wrote fan mail to the actors and got my first autograph + photo back. Not sure if pen ever actually met paper, but it was a big step for me. Later on I wrote a letter to the composer, Mark Snow, asking him about how one would play the song on a flute (my high school instrument) and he actually sent me back some sheet music, which he autographed for me. My fangirl heart new the rush of getting that personalized autograph – life would never be the same!

X Files fan mail Autographed X-Files sheet music

And should I even mention the story where I managed to track down the copy of Playgirl that had the interview with David Duchovny? I’m sure the person I was talking with on the online forum didn’t realize how young I was, but I needed that magazine. When it arrived for me (thank god my Mom didn’t go through my mail, not sure what would have happened then!) I was SO EMBARRASSED, I closed my eyes, ripped out the pages I needed and GLUED THEM TO CONSTRUCTION PAPER! I didn’t want to see the random naked men, I just wanted to read about Dreamy David.

LOL'd when I found this

Like all good fandoms, it helped me make new friend, particularly bittertwee. She was already a family friend, but the show made the two of us become life long pals and to this day we still bitch about the show and then wax nostalgic about the characters and plots. And, yes, we even went to see the second movie, which was laughably bad but at least we were together.

Yes, eventually X-Files let me down. Carter never seemed to have a plan for where it was all going and the explanation of the conspiracy never came. He promised that all the questions would be answered in the movie but instead decided to drag the show out until Duchovny left and even dared to continue after Anderson was done with her role. MISTAKE!

I had left long before that, the episode with the “Butt Genie” pushed me over the edge and soon I found myself in the comforting arms of Joss Whedon and that long term relationship. But X-Files will always be my first. I look back on it with mixed emotions. I’m always surprised when I see younger users on tumblr reblogging posts, but I guess Mulder/Scully was the original ‘ship (even though I NEVER shipped them. never EVER). I’m still a little bitter about it all – when you devote that much time to a fandom, it’s hard not to feel hurt when it ends poorly. But it was one of the first. It was the first show to really deal with The Internet and probably the most involved I have ever been with a single fandom.

Happy Anniversary X-Files.

I want to believe.

Trust No One.

Believe the Lie.

This is all your fault.