Reading the Screen: Hannibal

In case you haven’t heard, NBC has ordered thirteen episodes of Hannibal, a new crime drama from Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller — which means, at the very least, we can probably expect something offbeat and weird. The pilot will be directed by David Slade, who gave us the wonderfully dark 30 Days of Night. He also did The Twilight Saga: Eclipse, but I don’t hold that against him.

Hannibal, of course, is Hannibal Lecter, Thomas Harris’s psychiatrist/serial killer/cannibal, who has been played in the movies by Brian Cox, Anthony Hopkins and Gaspard Ulliel (in the vastly underrated Hannibal Rising). No word yet — at least not while I’m typing this — on who will play Dr. Lecter in the television series, but British actor Hugh Dancy has been cast as Will Graham (taking over the role played on the big screen by William Peterson and Edward Norton).

The series, apparently, will be set before the events of the first Lecter novel, 1981′s Red Dragon, and will focus on the relationship between FBI profiler Graham and his frequent consultant, Dr. Lecter (before, obviously, Graham twigged to Lecter’s, um, hobbies).

I like the idea a lot. Graham and Lecter are strong characters, and, in the novels, Harris (who doesn’t appear to be involved in the show) hinted at their previous working relationship. It’d be nice to see that. The show has a nicely dramatic built-in conclusion — Graham discovers the truth about Lecter, leading into the events of Red Dragon — and, since we know the truth about Hannibal but Graham doesn’t, there’s plenty of opportunity to give the audience a serious case of the creeps.

Any thoughts on who should play Dr. Lecter? Keeping in mind, of course, the casting could be announced any day now. (I have someone in mind, but I doubt he’d be interested.)

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