Written by Alice Sanders


Binging: Hannibal

So, you’ve finished The Wire, Breaking Bad and The Killing but you’re still hungry for more boxsets. Fear not, Standard Issue writers are on the case with some hidden gems you might not yet have seen. This week, Alice Sanders suggests you sit down with a nice Chianti and Hannibal.

Hannibal with skullHannibal is, of course, about Thomas Harris’s infamous character Dr Hannibal Lecter. It’s set in a time before The Silence of the Lambs, when Hannibal is still working as a forensic psychiatrist.

He’s in the employ of the FBI, who have enlisted him to be the personal psychiatrist of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy). Will’s having a tough time because, as a criminal profiler, he puts himself in the position of the murderer in order to help with the case. He visualises himself committing the crime and then finding the possible subsequent moves of whichever psychopath they are investigating that week. I like to think of it as ‘method profiling’ or ‘a way to make your job more difficult’. I mean, dude, doctors don’t go around in reveries of simulated sickness, and you don’t find teachers unlearning their seven times-table just so they know how it feels to learn it again.

That’s just what Will’s like though; he likes everything to be difficult. He feels like everything is difficult. And he keeps that turned up to 10 the whole time. If Will was your housemate, this is how a conversation about breakfast would go: “Will, would you like some breakfast.”

Will stares into the distance, frowns, and rubs his forehead. “Breakfast? I don’t know. I wouldn’t know what to have. I used to eat porridge but now when I look at it, it reminds me of death.”

So Will is fun, but let’s not get hung up on him. The character Hannibal, is of course, where the real fun lies. Mads Mikkelsen is delicious as Hannibal, with the dry twinkle in his eye, and his cruel angular nose. I’m totally hot for Hannibal. I started to analyse what this said about me as a person, became increasingly frightened, and then quietly tucked that thought away in a mind-drawer never to be opened again.

But let me tell you about Hannibal. He’s immaculately dressed, he has a beautiful house, and he’s a great cook. What’s not to love? He keeps a box of index cards of French haute-cuisine recipes in his kitchen and sure sometimes, sometimes he puts a little human flesh in them. But they look so damn tasty, so appealing, I’d still go round to Hannibal’s for dinner. Hell, I’d go round even if I were on the menu and I’m not just talking about dessert.

Hannibal cast shot

If we needed any more reasons to love Hannibal, there’s also his erudite conversation and droll witticisms. My favourite thing is when he says things like, “I never feel guilty for eating anything” and then winks at the camera. Okay, he doesn’t wink at the camera, but he should.

Hannibal also has Eddie Izzard playing another serial killer and Gillian Anderson playing Hannibal’s therapist. If even that isn’t enough for you, it has Lawrence John Fishburne III of The Matrix fame playing the Special Agent-in-Charge of Behavioural Sciences. He’s not very good at it, because he doesn’t suspect Hannibal, whose name quite obviously rhymes with cannibal.

The secret to really, really enjoying this show, though, is to play the game that my ex-housemate and I used to play while watching. You need to make a noise that is somewhere between that ‘nom nom nom’ sound you make when you’re about to eat good food, and that sound Anthony Hopkin’s Hannibal makes after he says, “I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti”. Whoever makes this noise at the choicest moment and gets the biggest laugh, wins the game. Anyway, I’ve got to go; I’m having an old friend for dinner…

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Written by Alice Sanders

Alice Sanders is a freelance writer. She writes articles, audio description for the visually impaired, and fiction. She also performs with comedy improv troupe The Pioneers. @wernerspenguin