Hannibal Lecter is one of my all-time favorite psychopaths. I've read three of the four books wherein he makes appearances, but after the disappointment that was Thomas Harris's Hannibal, I decided not to read Hannibal Rising. Also, some of my problems with previous cinematic depictions of Lecter are fixed in this series. Yes, I'm the odd motherfucker who preferred Brian Cox's Lecter in the oft overlooked Manhunter over Anthony Hopkins's performance in Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Red Dragon.
I don't think Anthony Hopkins ever made Lecter a likable character. At least not as likable as Harris's creation in the books. Hopkins's Lecter was scary, sure, but he wasn't someone you wanted to pal around with. He was too crazy for me. I never fully believed Hopkins's version was ever a pillar of the community. Mad Mikkelsen's Lecter is far more likable, and I can easily believe he's able to draw people in close and have them for dinner.
More positives concerning this series would be the fantastic sound and set design, the incomparable acting chops of just about every cast member, the fight choreography, the exquisite cinematography, and the nearly-perfect direction. In fact, my only complaint is some of the writing. Certain episodes required huge leaps in logic to succeed, and others were very obvious filler. I dislike the way Crawford's wife was thrown in for two episodes only to never be heard from again. Hell, she's not so much as mentioned after her second episode and the damn woman is dying of cancer. It's How to Cheat at Character Development 101: Do you need to make an audience care about a male character in a little amount of time? Make their wife pregnant or ill. Bam! Insta-feelz!
Having Freddie Lounds as a female in this version of Harris's Red Dragon universe was a nice twist. The Freddie Lounds of the book was just as vile (some might remember Philip Seymour Hoffman playing the character in the Ed Norton reboot of Red Dragon), but for some reason he's even moreso as a woman. Is it just me or are heartless women worse than heartless men? Anyway, moving on...
I enjoyed how the first season ended. I wanted to jump right into Season Two, and I did just that. And what a fucking opening, man. The fight sequence that begins the second season is better than most of the fight scenes in modern action movies. I've said it once and I'll say it again - whoever is doing the fight choreography for Hannibal deserves some kind of award. Absolutely terrific. No other show on television or streaming even comes close.
Oh, and Hugh Dancy, the actor who plays Will Graham, deserves an Emmy. I love every scene with him in it. Mad Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne are damn good, too, but Dancy steals the show, in my opinion.
In summation: Although the writing is laughable at times, everything else is flawless. Unfortunately, with a show like this, much of my entertainment is derived from the plot. Because of this, I had to give the first season three stars out of five. It's not quite great yet, but I can see it becoming so.
Final Judgment: Better than the last four seasons of Dexter combined, but not quite as good as a single episode of Breaking Bad.