Release Date(s)2014 (September 16, 2014)
Studio(s)NBC/Dino de Laurentiis Co./Living Dead Guy (Lionsgate)
- Film/Program Grade: A-
- Video Grade: A
- Audio Grade: A
- Extras Grade: A-
Hannibal: Season Two picks up directly after the events of Season One. Investigator Will Graham has fallen prey to the evil influences of Doctor Lecter and it’s up to Will to prove to everyone that Lecter isn’t what he seems. For the show’s second season, the writers and producers decided to dip into other novels outside of “Red Dragon,” more specifically “Hannibal.” Fortunately, there are enough changes to keep things fresh and not function as a mere adaptation.
The focus of this season is to get to its conclusion, and there isn’t much dawdling to get there. We’re teased with the season’s final moments in the first episode, giving us a propulsion to want to watch the rest and get back to that point in time. It’s difficult to describe in any detail without handing out major spoilers, so I won’t even try. Rest assured though, this season is much slower-paced, character-driven, and less focused on the ghastly this time around. Don’t get me wrong though. There are definitely some gory moments to be had, especially with this Blu-ray release which carries seven episodes that have been extended and are labeled “Producer’s Cuts.” But, by and large, this season feels less over-the-top and grounded by comparison.
All of the main cast returns, as well as some new faces brought into the fold. We’re introduced to the Vergers, who don’t play a major role in the story, but may well do so at a later date. Michael Pitt’s turn as Mason Verger is very much against type and is probably one of the lighter characters in the show, despite what an awful human being he is to not just his sister, but to everyone else as well. A lot of the same production team returns also, making things cohesive production-wise. There weren’t any real disappointments overall, although I actually expected Francis Dollarhyde’s character to come into play. But from what I’m hearing through the grapevine, they seem to be saving him for another season.
While I still believe that Manhunter is the finest representation of this story in movie form, Hannibal excels at bringing Thomas Harris’ characters to vivid life while also putting a new spin on things so that those of us who know these storylines can get just as caught up in the drama as everyone else. Since it hasn’t garnered impressive ratings, I see Hannibal as a show that will start to gain steam in its fourth season... if it even gets that far. A lot of great TV shows don’t last much longer than that nowadays, but hopefully this one will catch on with viewers. It really should because it’s one of the most visceral and gut-wrenching TV shows to come along in a while that’s well-written, well-acted, and beautiful to look at.
As with Hannibal: Season One, Lionsgate’s Hannibal: Season Two Blu-ray release sports a quality presentation. Being a show that was shot digitally, you’ll find a whole lot of visual detail in every facet of the frame. I would go so far as to say that there’s even more detail than the first release. The color palette is equal to the first season, with muted colors, but also some effective color grading. Despite this, the colors are still quite strong. Blacks are as well, being quite deep. As I also said with the first season, contrast and brightness should have been tweaked to lighten the picture up just slightly so that it isn’t so excessively dark. Not an overly major hindrance, but a hindrance nonetheless. Otherwise, it’s an aggressive and pleasing presentation. The same can be said of the show’s audio, which is presented on a single English 5.1 DTS-HD track, with an additional soundcheck option. Like the first season, the mix is pretty immersive and hard-hitting. Dialogue is always clear and clean, and both sound effects and score are used quite effectively. The score especially, as it’s made up more of non-orchestral sounds that leave you with an uneasy feeling while watching the show. So there’s no major complaints to be had. It’s just as impressive a presentation as the first time around. There are also subtitles in English, English SDH, and Spanish for those who might need them.
There’s also a bit more selection in the extras this time around. On the first disc, you’ll find three audio commentaries: one on the episode Kaiseki with producer Bryan Fuller and actor Hugh Dancy, one on the episode Sakizuke with Bryan Fuller and culinary consultant José Andrés, and one on the episode Takiawase with Bryan Fuller and actress Hettienne Park. You’ll also find a set of trailers for other shows, which also open the disc. On the second disc, you’ll find two audio commentaries: one on the episode Yakimono with Bryan Fuller, actor Raúl Esparza, and writer/executive producer Steve Lightfoot, and the other on the episode Su-zakana with Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy. There are also two featurettes: This is My Design and The Style of a Killer. On the third disc you’ll find three more audio commentaries: one on the episode Naka-Choko with Bryan Fuller and actress Caroline Dhavernas, one on the episode Mizumono with Bryan Fuller and Hugh Dancy, and another also on the episode Mizumono with Bryan Fuller and Steve Lightfoot. In addition, you’ll find two featurettes: Bodies of Lies and Hannibal Season 2: Killer Intentions; Post Mortem with Scott Thompson, which is set of webisodes (Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy, Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas, Hettienne Park and Aaron Abrams, Jim Hawkinson, Janice Poon, Bryan Fuller, Christopher Hargadon); a gag reel; and a set of deleted scenes. Like the first season, most of this extra material was created by special edition producer Cliff Stephenson.
Hannibal: Season Two might not be to everyone’s taste because of how it focuses more on heavy character development, but it’s a lot more satisfactory. That being said, I still find this a difficult show to binge-watch, but I know a lot of you won’t. And since this is a fantastic Blu-ray release, you definitely should. Now bring on Season Three...
- Tim Salmons