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Scott D. Pierce
Scott D. Pierce writes about television for the Salt Lake Tribune. Vice president of the Television Critics Associationn, he's covered TV in Utah since 1990.

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(Courtesy photo) Mads Mikkelson stars as Dr. Hannibal Lecter in NBC's “Hannibal.”
TV review: "Hannibal" is just plain horrible

It's been a while since I hated a TV pilot as much as I hate "Hannibal," which premieres Thursday at 9 p.m. on NBC/Ch. 5. But that deserves a caveat, I suppose.

I am not a fan of violence. Or gore. And "Hannibal" is horrifically violent and abominably gory.

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But my objections to "Hannibal" are not just because of the blood and guts. I do, after all, appreciate "The Walking Dead."

"Hannibal," a prequel to "Red Dragon" and "Silence of the Lambs," is morose, unpleasant and sometimes ludicrous. Which is not at all what I was expecting from writer/executive producer Bryan Fuller ("Pushing Daisies," "Dead Like Me," "Wonderfalls").

"Hannibal," not surprisingly, features Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) before he became a world-renowned serial killer/cannibal. He's a psychiatrist who actually consults for the police on murder cases - the first involving a cannibal, of course.

Lecter is not, however, at the center of the show. He's a supporting character. The star is FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), who sees inside the minds of killers, re-enacting their crimes inside his own head - all displayed for the viewers.

Not surprisingly, Graham is the least happy man on Earth. He's morose to the max, and his own sanity is questionable.

But his boss, FBI agent Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne), wants him working because he's good at what he does. Crawford also introduces Graham to Lecter, and the good doctor both helps and hinders the investigations and he commits his own crimes.

It's overshadowed by all the blood, but there are enormous plot holes in "Hannibal." Not only are we required to accept that Graham's abilities border on the magical, but other characters perform magical acts. A patient in a coma in a Minnesota hospital at the end of Episode 1 is magically transported (still in a coma) to a Maryland hospital in Episode 2. Lecter makes a magical escape from house surrounded by the police.

And the killer in Episode 2 does something that no individual could accomplish on his own, but a magic spell seems to have been cast upon the authorities so they don't even question it.

It was more believable when Obi-wan Kenobi said, "These aren't the droids you're looking for."

I hated the pilot of "Hannibal" so much I watched four more episodes. (Ah, the trials of being a TV critic.) And I'll admit I didn't hate them as much ... although that may have been because I was becoming accustomed to the carnage.

But "Hannibal" remains the least pleasant network drama I've seen in a long time.



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