Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

A case of 'things that make you go: hmmm'

Serial killer a big winner, cop show a total failure

  • Print

Sometimes, all you can do is shake your head and wonder.

TV will do that to you -- for many different reasons. Take today's two-part column, for example -- the first half deals with a new drama that leaves the intrigued viewer thinking, "I didn't think they could pull it off, but they did," and the second focuses on a show that raises the question, "Can it really be that bad?"

At first glance, NBC's Hannibal seemed like a no-hope proposition. The dark, crime-focused drama proposes a life for legendary big-screen serial killer Hannibal Lecter before The Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon.

Much like A&E's recent prequel-ish reboot of the Norman Bates story with Bates Motel, Hannibal seeks to build a series storyline around a fictional figure whose eventual dark fate is already well known. And like poor, Mommy-issues-crippled Norman, Lecter is hardly the sort of fellow one could hope to transform into a sympathetic central character.

Add to that the fact that NBC decided to hold Hannibal until this late date in the TV season -- a sure sign of a show that does not have the full confidence of its broadcaster -- and there's every reason to believe it would be a late-out-of-the-gate loser.

But it's not. Far from it, in fact. It's a densely layered and graphically disturbing crime thriller whose considerable cast makes an immediate impression that will leave many viewers -- though certainly not all -- eager to see more.

Hannibal, despite its title, actually focuses mostly on the efforts of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a gifted but deeply neurotic FBI criminal profiler who, as the series begins, is working on a case involving a serial killer who has abducted several young women in Minnesota.

Graham's boss is Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), head of the bureau's Behavioral Science Unit, and he wants desperately for Graham to come up with a clue that will crack the case. Despite warnings not to let psychologically fragile Will get too deeply immersed in the case, he allows the profiler to put himself in harm's way.

Seeking to salvage the situation, he calls upon psychiatrist Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) to counsel Graham and assess his mental state. What the FBI types don't know, of course, is that the guy they've hired to help their serial-killer profiler is, in fact, a murderer himself.

The first episode of Hannibal plays out like typical grisly-murder crime fiction, but after Lecter arrives and begins toying with Graham's mind, it quickly becomes unlike anything else on TV. Dancy is strong as hyper-attentive profiler Will, but it's Mikkelsen who steals the show with an eerily dead-calm performance in the show's title role.

Its placement late in mid-season makes Hannibal an unlikely candidate for an extended prime-time run, but there's enough fascinating material here to make it a worthy filler of a few still-too-chilly spring evenings.

Second in today's pairing of TV head-shakers is Rogue, a made-for-cable drama. A Canada-U.K. co-production created with support from Movie Central, The Movie Network and the U.S. direct-satellite provider DirecTV, Rogue is a show with lots of ambitions and no real idea how to achieve them.

Thandie Newton stars as Grace Travis, an undercover detective who is pulled off the job after her son is killed in an apparently random street-corner shooting. She's on forced leave, but she's obsessed with figuring out whether her son's death is somehow related to the criminal gangs she was investigating at the time of the shooting.

Against her bosses' wishes, Grace goes back undercover -- goes rogue, so to speak -- and gets deeply re-involved in the criminal underworld, but this time there's no chance of backup arriving to save the day.

Rogue, which is set in Oakland but was shot in Vancouver, has two fatal flaws among the many problems that plague it -- its scripts are so filled with B-movie stereotypes that it sometimes seems to lapse into self-parody instead of serious cop drama, and its lead actor, Newton, is utterly unconvincing as a tough-as-nails cop who'll happily take a bullet and then grit her teeth in order to keep herself on the case.

It's so uncomfortably inept that it'll leave you shaking your head in disbelief. And by the way, the answer to the question is yes -- it actually is that bad.

brad.oswald@freepress.mb.ca Twitter: @BradOswald

TV REVIEW

Hannibal

Starring Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne

Thursday at 9 p.m.

NBC and Citytv

31Ñ2 stars out of 5

Rogue

Starring Thandie Newton, Marton Csokas, Ian Tracey and Ian Hart

Tonight at 10

Movie Central

11Ñ2 stars out of 5

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 3, 2013 C3

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Perry Bellegarde elected as national chief of Assembly of First Nations

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A baby Red Panda in her area at the Zoo. International Red Panda Day is Saturday September 15th and the Assiniboine Park Zoo will be celebrating in a big way! The Zoo is home to three red pandas - Rufus, Rouge and their cub who was born on June 30 of this year. The female cub has yet to be named and the Assiniboine Park Zoo is asking the community to help. September 14, 2012  BORIS MINKEVICH / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • Bright sunflowers lift their heads toward the south east skies in a  large sunflower field on Hwy 206 and #1 Thursday Standup photo. July 31,  2012 (Ruth Bonneville/Winnipeg Free Press)

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Do you think it's a good idea for Theresa Oswald to enter NDP leadership race?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google