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'Hannibal' and 'Aquarius' make killer two-course platter

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'Hannibal' and 'Aquarius' make killer two-course platter

Post by jade1013 on Fri 19 Jun - 6:10

'Hannibal' and 'Aquarius' make killer two-course platter


Gethin Anthony plays Charles Manson in "Aquarius," which is the more realistic of NBC's two violent Thursday night offerings.

Posted: Friday, June 19, 2015 12:15 am

By Brendan Suszynski Delran High School

If there are three things NBC loves right now, it’s horse racing, punchlines and murder.

So naturally, the network has decided to pair up two shows that feature the latter gratuitously on Thursday nights: “Aquarius” and “Hannibal.”

“Aquarius” was billed as an “event series,” while “Hannibal” is in its third season. The two shows have their share of similarities and differences. Both are violent, both have ludicrous production values and, together, they have David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson on the same network (but not series) again.

However, one’s a little more rooted in reality, while the other likes to take liberties with it — hallucinatory, deer-man-related liberties.

Set in 1967 California, two years before the infamous Tate murders, “Aquarius” follows strait-laced detective Sam Hodiak (Duchovny). He’s old-school and not quite enthused about counterculture, but he’s forced to be enthralled by it after he’s assigned to a missing-persons case to track down a teenage girl who’s run away with a certain aspiring musician by the name of Charles Manson (played by Gethin Anthony).

There to help Hodiak is his partner, Shafe (Grey Damon), whose dense beard and leather jacket-heavy wardrobe make him the perfect fit for going undercover in the seedy underworld (of hippie communes?).

The series is set over 13 episodes, and because of NBC’s unorthodox release schedule (all the episodes are available online and OnDemand), it makes for a fairly quick binge.

But will it please your palate? Maybe.

There’s a lot to like and lot that you might dislike. Duchovny exudes a lot of personality and wit in what could have easily been a generic detective role, and I love the soundtrack, but I’ve also heard a lot of criticism, mainly about how the period is betrayed.

I doubt how they handle things like race and sexism will please the PC crowd, and without spoiling anything, some of it does feel shoehorned in, but it was also a less PC time.

One thing I was a little disappointed with, though, is how underutilized the Manson subplot is. Most of the episodes follow a procedural “case of the week” formula that isn’t directly tied to him. Some of his monologues and tantrums come off as more campy than terrifying, but “Aquarius” isn’t meant to be a biopic.

Rather, it’s a pulpy, noir-ish hippie crime drama, and I like it for what it is.

But “Aquarius” is merely a yummy little burger slider in comparison to the meaty, suspiciously fleshy prime cut that is “Hannibal,” a prequel-reboot that brings everyone’s favorite psychopathic psychiatrist cannibal, Hannibal Lecter, to the small screen.

Most horror fans probably remember Anthony Hopkins’ creepy jail-cell monologues in “Silence of the Lambs,” but in “Hannibal,” he’s a free man portrayed by Mads Mikkelsen, hiding his true nature under his self-proclaimed “person suit.” At least, he was free, but is on the run this season.

In the other corner is Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a smart but disturbed criminal profiler who’s one of Hannibal’s patients in the first season.

It’s not a matter of the destination, but the journey. “Hannibal” has been a great prequel series so far, but I’m even more excited to see how the showrunners tackle and remake “Red Dragon” and “Silence of The Lambs” further down the line this season.

It meshes together a lot of old elements from the movies and Thomas Harris novels in new and horrific ways. Creator Bryan Fuller eschews a lot of exposition in favor of creepy, Kubrick-esque visual storytelling. The catacombs and old architecture of Florence perfectly fit the unnerving ambiance, and the line between reality and fantasy is blurred. Most of the violence is treated like twisted art pieces.

This is a show where one of the first crime scenes this season is of a man sculpted into a heart as a demented show of bromance. Hell, a guy got stuffed in a horse last season — a horse! It’s amazing that they get away with this stuff, but what’s more amazing to me is the lack of ratings the show has.

Sure, it’s not for everybody, and Mikkelsen’s accent can be hard to decipher, but when you can understand him, he gives Hopkins a run for his money in the creep and charisma factor with some of his hilarious double-entendres (“My wife and I would like to have you for dinner”).

It has some of the best visuals and cinematography I’ve seen, not just on a network station, but on any show. I can’t do it justice, but if you can stomach body-horror and are thinking about watching it, as the great LaBeouf once said, “JUST DO IT!”

Grades:

“Aquarius,” B+

“Hannibal,” A+


The Intelligencer

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Re: 'Hannibal' and 'Aquarius' make killer two-course platter

Post by sir on Fri 19 Jun - 6:11

Thanks

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