Just wanted to put in a real plug for this. At the time of my post back in March, I was still warming up to the show. But now, I have to say i am completely hooked and hold this one up as a high-water mark for non-cable TV. It's still no more gory than Supernatural, but it's all presented with such unsettling artistry that it really lingers.
The easiest shows to compare it to are Dexter and True Detective and I think I hold it in higher regard than both. It's certainly more disturbing and "upfront" than Dexter, especially compared to Dexter's 3rd-to-end seasons. And, while I understand the praise for True Detective (which shares a lot of thematic similarities) I think Hannibal is a more ambitious show. And for those who feared or believe that it follows Dexter's "serial killer of the week" format, the show does primarily focus on Hannibal and Will and how messed up their relationship is. And even when the show does introduce additional serial killers, it is almost always at the service of expanding themes and filling in the larger arc. Even the rather silly one from a few weeks back has become a pivot point for all the episodes that have followed.
Mikkelsen has completely become "my" Hannibal. I loved Brian Cox in Manhunter and I never really cared for Hopkins' turn in the role. For me Hopkins was too campy and almost bordered on playing him like Vincent Price at his hammiest, with no slight to Price meant. But Mikkelen has really captured that essence of evil. You can "see" the charisma, but you never buy into it. And, you never once root for him the way you do in the Hopkins films. And the show really does a great job of showing how well he gets into people's heads and all the damage that he does once he's in there.
And the soundtrack is amazing. That's really all I can say here. It's brutal, alienating, horrifying and I love it. It's the stuff of Scott Walker's or Gyorgy Ligeti's nightmares. As far as I can tell, no soundtrack has been released yet, but, man, do I hope someone gets one out soon.
While I did originally criticize the show for how unrealistic it was in the little details - everyone is ridiculously well-dressed, as a police procedural it borders on Scooby Doo for authenticity, and the dialogue is ridiculously stylized. But, I've come to see this all as just the way this world works and I have to say that I have grown to appreciate the conviction of the storytellers to stand by it.
I'm so excited that the show has been picked up for a 3rd season. But, I'll be amazed if they actually manage to get the whole 6 season run they are hoping for. As much as I love the show, it is easily the most alienating thing I have ever seen on television. The imagery and sound design almost seem like they are challenges to the audience to try to sit through it. And that's just one more reason why I love the show. It has moments of (very dark) humor, but overall this is one massive trip into the heart of darkness and they want to make sure you take in all the sights on this tour.
If anyone here has been avoiding it, or even if anyone turned off after the first few episodes, I really would recommend giving it a look. It is easily one of the most unique and adventurous shows on television.