Hannibal season 1 has arrived on Blu-ray and Digital HD from Lionsgate. There are some fantastic special features, including unrated producer’s cut episodes, a never before seen episode, and some cool featurettes. Even if you watched the season, it is a worthwhile purchase for fans of the show.

Anthony Hopkins’ portrayal of Hannibal Lecter has been terrifyingly excellent. I was skeptical of the show because of my fondness of the character when I initially heard news of a show being developed. When it was revealed that Mads Mikkelsen was to play the character and director David Slade was involved the series my interest peaked immensely.

The cast includes Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park, Laurence Fishburne, and Scott Thompson. Hannibal covers the initial relationship between the renowned psychiatrist (Mikkelsen) and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler (Dancy), who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers. Will has difficulty interacting with people because he has Asperger’s disease, which is a high-functioning form of Autism. Instead of working in the field, Will has begun teaching profiling skills at Quantico for the FBI.

Will’s profiling skills are called upon after a particularly mysterious and grizzly murder where a young girl is murdered and then placed back into her bed. Special Agent Jack Crawford (Fishburne) decides to pair Will with a specialist in the area,Dr. Hannibal Lecter, to help keep Will on task and aid in giving insight into the possible mental state of the murder.

Jack wants to hedge his bets about getting Will involved, especially since there’s the none too subtle hint that Will’s mental state may not exactly be balanced (this bears a rather surprising but unmistakable similarity to some of what informs Homeland), and decides to approach another professional who can give some profiling advice on who the killer might be. That turns out to be none other than Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelson, sporting a weird quasi-Hitleresque haircut). Hannibal very smartly plays on the fact that most audience members are already going to be aware of the character’s rather infamous future, and many episodes deal with Lecter’s gastronomic pursuits, which are often intercut (no pun intended) with scenes of rather gruesome murder sites.

The first season heavily focuses on Will and Lecter, but we are also introduced to a number of other supporting characters. Dr. Alana Bloom (Caroline Dhavemas) is an FBI psychiatrist who forms a unique relationship with Will as his therapist. She is the one that recommended Jack look to Dr. Lecter for analytical advice on the case. We are also introduced to a rather annoying, in my opinion, internet tabloid crime reporter named Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki). I She continually forces her way into the crime scenes in search of material for her next story. I was surprised that she has not been killed off because of her aggressive persistence. Gillian Anderson has a small part as Dr. Lecter’s psychoanalyst. It is pretty common that psychiatrists need someone to talk to, but is the two have a special past intimate relationship.

The character development during the first portion of the season really helped hook me into the show so I tuned in every week to watch it. I especially liked the dynamic between Hannibal and Will, which is like a game of cat and mouse. I also loved the way Dr. Lecter’s love of food is intermingled with shots of the crime scenes. Of course we know that the food is made of Lecter’s victims, but what makes it worse is that he feeds it to unsuspecting guests.

The coolest aspect of the show is how Will Graham (Dancy) enters into the minds of the murders while at a crime scene. When I first saw the way those scenes were shot, I was in awe of the fabulous special effects and camerawork. The show is disturbing and frightening and visually stunning, which makes this one of the best shot shows on TV.

Hannibal was digitally shot, which makes the 1080p transfer looks stunning and is presented in 1.78:1. This is especially helpful with some of the darker scenes in the series. The rich colors used in the set pieces look beautiful on the Blu-ray. Brian Reitzell did the score for the show, adding another layer of ambient eeriness. The DTS-HD 5.1 Master Track makes that score sound fantastic.

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Hannibal special features:

Disc One

  • Aperitif – Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy.
  • Pilot Episode Storyboards

Disc Two

  • Hannibal Reborn
  • A Taste for Killing
  • Gag Reel

Disc Three

  • Savoreux – Audio Commentary with Bryan Fuller, David Slade and Hugh Dancy.
  • A Symphony for the Slaughter
  • The FX of Murder
  • Will and Alana – Deleted Scene

Hannibal Season 1 is available on Amazon.