Many shades of black

Tonight’s Hannibal inspired me to write some things. Forgive me if I ramble.

One of my all time favorite TV shows of all time is Millennium.  It was done by some of the people behind X-Files and Space Above and Beyond, and it actually crossed over with X-Files at a couple of points. It was nominally about a guy who can see into the minds of evil, to help find killers. This is a premise that has been done often to varying degrees, but usually with a sort of typical police procedural feel. Millennium was not that model.
It had a deeply melancholy theme running through it, a level personal darkness one doesn’t see on TV very often, and had the perfect protagonist in Frank Black, played perfectly by Lance Henrickson. He was so dour and so human. He wasn’t the caricature of the hero who is somehow quirky, but still heroic. He was a man, flawed, weak, and the weight of what he dealt with is written on his face.

So, Hannibal is also a show with a lot of similarities. Will Graham, who is not the namesake of the show but the hero, is being broken down by his ability to see the crime scenes of serial killers the way they saw them. He has a sort of super empathy, but it is ultimately terrible for him. Hannibal Lector is the, not yet discovered, mass murderer, who sadly is also Will Grahams friend. This can only end in tears. This show has a deep and personal darkness to it, but the touchstones are different. Where Millenium had a lot of its demons carried in Frank Black’s relationship with his family, the demons in Hannibal are carried by the slow break down of Will Graham. They share a similar format, and the level of storytelling in both is excellent, they are very different shows on the same wavelength.

This was brought to mind tonight, when Lance Henrickson made a guest appearance on Hannibal. I won’t spoil things for folks who haven’t seen it yet, but he turns in a fine performance.  Watching it made me think of Millennium, which I haven’t done in a good number of years. It made me think about the lovely ways that people can pull such diversity, with the same pallet of colors. I have other thoughts on both shows, but I think that will wrap them up for tonight.
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