Hannibal - Season 1

Image credit: CBR

"I think one of the most fun things you can say about [Hannibal] as a series killer, if you can say 'fun,' is that he has such a specific aesthetic," Bryan Fuller tells me when I ask about what makes Hannibal Lecter different from the "Dexters" of the TV landscape. Fuller adds that Lecter--played in NBC's "Hannibal" by Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen--is a dandy with a sense of joie de vivre.

The character, first made famous in Thomas Harris' novels before coming to the small screen under actor Brian Cox in "Manhunter" and later "Silence of the Lambs" with Anthony Hopkins, is hard to pin down: a killer of the "free range rude" as he notably says, one who has grabbed our attention for nearly 30 years now in one form or another. Showrunner and writer Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies," "Wonderfalls," "Dead Like Me") has taken a shot at reinventing the character for TV with "Hannibal."

I spoke with Fuller recently about bringing America's favorite serial killer to NBC in the recently-concluded first season of "Hannibal," which is being released to home video this week. We chatted about the appeal of the character, Mikkelsen's approach to the role, the allure or evil, and just what creator Thomas Harris thinks of the latest incarnation of his most popular character.

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The most interesting serial killer on TV (and it's a crowded field this year) is coming back for another 13 episodes as NBC signs off on a second season of "Hannibal."

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Does anyone remember "Hannibal Rising"? The 2007 film from director Peter Webber (based on a screenplay from the character's creator, Thomas Harris), was an origin story for the erudite, cannibalistc serial killer, giving us everything from Nazi nemeses to a tortured love story (and even an unfortunate visual callback to the iconic mask from "Silence of the Lambs" because how could they not).

"Hannibal Rising" represented all of the worst instincts of a prequel: the need to over-explain, the strip all mystery of mystique away from a character until you're left with the detailed scribblings in the margins of a writer's notebook ("and here's where the character learns to love fava beans"). It's the same instinct that gives us an unnecessary explanation for Superman's "S" shield and tortured noodling about in the first two-thirds of the "Halloween" remake where we learn that Michael Meyers had what could be called a troubled home life.

Which is what makes NBC's "Hannibal" not only refreshing, but quite smart: it never seeks to "explain" this enigmatic and charming monster--well, not directly, at least.

****Spoilers to follow****

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If the casting of Mads Mikkelsen as the bad Dr. Lecter wasn't enough to pique your interest in the "Silence of the Lambs" prequel miniseries "Hannibal," then this artfully cut trailer will.

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Bryan Fuller's ("Pushing Daisies") origin series for the erudite cannibal will be coming to NBC starting April 4, taking the place of the network's Jekyll and Hyde drama "Do No Harm" in the 10 PM slot. The Hollywood Reporter caught the announcement via Fuller's Twitter feed, along with a picture of the show's Hannibal Mads Mikkelsen ("Casino Royale," "Pusher 2").

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