Follow me into… murder?

Main cast of Hannibal, from left to right: Dancy (Will Graham), Dhavernas (Alana Bloom), Fishburne (Jack Crawford), Abrams (Brian Zeller), Chorostecki (Freddie Lounds), Park (Beverly Katz), Thompson (Jimmy Price), Mikkelsen (Hannibal Lecter).

I was going to write mass-murder but i didn’t really want my blog connected to who knows what searches so i wasn’t cheeky enough to take the joke that far. But it is the questions of the day for sure after it has recently been announced that  RA will join NBC’s Hannibal in Season 3 in the terrifying role of Francis Dolarhyde (aka The Tooth Fairy)  – the main villain of Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon Warning about opening the links to spoilers and well, gory details.

I shouldn’t have read that before eating the recently arrived fresh pizza, it’s now sitting a bit square in my stomach…

Look, this is by no means an attempt to have a clear opinion, i’m just dumping the fuddle duddle from my brain onto here in the hope that i can forget about it and carry on watching Robin Hood which i have just started at the weekend (and S3 is just waiting for me now to continue). But it will bug me now that i know about it, so here are my various thoughts on it as they are today.

Let’s start by admitting I’m a bit of an addict of detective type series, i’ve read them since i was pretty small and continue to watch them on TV. Every possible CSI, Bones, Wallander, Sherlock, Elementary, the Blacklist and others (to call out a few recent ones), you name it, i watched it. But not just those, i watch/ed the much darker stuff too, Criminal Minds (yes all 9 seasons, in fact i’ve got yesterday’s recorded ready to watch) and i have watched the entire S1 of Hannibal (alongside the Following). Some of the latter ones grab you and trap you so you watch until there is some resolution (ie because you hope for a positive outcome).

But i don’t like horror movies or TV series. I don’t like to be scared (i even watch Sleepy Hollow for example with the lights on). I don’t mind some suspense, even uncertain outcomes, but to still enjoy/be interested in watching a program i need the human element to prevail.

Obviously my preference for detective series over time comes from the need of knowing that good will prevail or that problems can be solved and likely from wanting to have the feeling of being protected. I can deal with quite a bit of gore as long as it is mostly in a forensic context as the science aspect fascinates me. It’s about catching the killer and never about being fascinated with the killer. Which is the reason why i stopped watching Hannibal beyond S1 (or The Following), it was too dark, to evil really for my psychological sanity. It disturbed me too much and stuck to me like something awful just at the edge of consciousness so i stepped away from it. Having said that i watched The Fall (Anderson, Dornan) absolutely riveted and that’s a case where both policewomen and killer fascinated me (one of the best and most interesting TV series i’ve seen recently); it is all about psychology and reasons why and very cleverly revealed step by step. I guess it just stays on my acceptable side of humanity, it’s not made the journey to the complete, extreme beyond-reason. It’s not deliberately out to shock you, stun you with terror.

That’s not to say i haven’t watched things that have scared me or made me very uncomfortable.  I’ve watched a lot of war drama and one could argue reality is much worse than any fiction could be. I’ve also watched Seven for example and Silence of the Lambs and both i probably shouldn’t have as the mere thought disturbs me still. Interestingly enough i think i may have watched Ralph Fiennes as Francis Dolarhyde, probably not the entire thing as i don’t recall it, but definitely quite a bit as i immediately recognised that image of Fiennes in the wiki link above and it made me recoil (and i remember the tatoo).

The question is not if he should do it. Of course he should if he has decided he wants to/can. Actors have to be much braver than average you and me. I love RA as an actor and a big part of it is precisely because i admire how determined he is to challenge himself, to push against his own boundaries and explore these in depth. I have no doubt his blood curdles just as much as mine and his stomach churns at who he is about to embody, all the more reason to appreciate his bravery in attempting to take himself there. I fully understand why for an actor it is very important to explore all the pits and extremes of humanity, the positive ones, like Proctor, and the darkest ones like this role. I admire both Fiennes and Hopkins for their evil characters as much as i do for their more positive ones 🙂 I am sure it has made them even better actors.

Also, the series is very popular (see titles above, there is an increasing abundance of this genre on TV these days and a growing audience). I think i am lucky in that although i enjoy the type of drama (murder mystery) i have not yet been completely desensitised to the level of violence (physical and psychological) depicted, which is ever increasing together with the growing appetite of the audience for it. And while i think it is brave for an actor to take himself on a journey from man to almost beast, i’m not comfortable with charting that journey myself.

I’ve got other more prosaic/realistic questions (APM protection mode ahead ;-)) Ever the doubtful, i am slightly concerned that this is a bit of physical typecasting. I wasn’t happy reading in the Tv article linked above about the hulking, burly, teeth business. I hope they decided to cast him for his acting chops primarily and not his physical body type, but i wonder… I’ve always wanted to see him do a baddie, but i thought more of a brainy baddie than a burly, very physical one if you know what i mean (biting noises in my head… ). He’s mentioned how much he liked Fargo and although i didn’t like it nearly as much (precisely for the everyman into killer twist), this is not something in that sort of vein but much gorier, brutal. I would have been more fascinated by something as psychologically twisted but fascinating as a journey as Fargo (in fact that’s the sort of baddie i would have been more interested in exploring). There is (don’t hit me please) precious little original about Dolarhyde as a villain (abused becomes abuser and the epitome of the worst of the worst, beyond reason and any shred of humanity).

Also, as you can probably read through the lines above, while i consume massive amounts of murder mystery, i’m deeply uncomfortable and concerned  with the growing trend towards ever viler, gorier, more inhuman violence which seems to make it acceptable/normal. In fact i’ve found less and less in this genre that i actually enjoy watching because it seems to be a race in who can do the worst.

I’ve also got a slightly smaller worry about what the role will do to him, but it’s only 6 episodes and i’m confident something else will come along and he’ll launder himself of the character soon enough 😉

So, will i follow? Will i (be able to) watch?

I don’t know… Unfortunately just reading the wiki page and seeing that image of Fiennes as the character has already triggered some scary thoughts and pictures in my mind (too much imagination!). I’ve stopped watching the series precisely because it made me so uncomfortable and also because the evil just spun in on itself. In order to follow the character i’d have to watch the full series to properly understand where they are going…

Curiosity killed the cat and that’s precisely what i am afraid will happen to me. That the curiosity about wanting to see him act will get the better of me and i will watch (and i know already it will be intense) and then i’ll have the image of some big evil monster literally gnawing through my brain forever… Will i be able to see/think of Proctor, Thorin without getting the monster in there too? I’m most afraid of those precious imprints being tainted by other images that i won’t be able to stop…

And these are my honest thoughts at the moment, uncomfortable as they are… disturbing enough that in the end i haven’t continued watching Robin Hood tonight as this occupied the little free time i had.

But there’s another day tomorrow (and another argument to be had about another baddie who puts babies out in the forest…and has tatooes… and is an assassin… no biting so far 😉 )

Edit – Extras (or recommendations for murder-mystery junkies like me)

I thought since i mentioned various stuff i might as well recommend some i watch/ed and enjoyed for those among you into the genre and to point out that the stuff out there is very varied indeed.

Favourites over last year:

True Detectives – brilliant, absolute highlight with amazing Harrelson and McConaughey, great script, plot, everything, brilliant location, i felt sticky and hot just watching it was so well made and real; go for it! It’s psychologically intense with a lot of character insight.

Fargo – definitely an interesting and somewhat original concept with Freeman at his best and different self 🙂

Broadchurch – great script, even better acting from Tennant and Colman; In fact i am not sure they shouldn’t have stopped at S1; it was so good that 2 eps into S2 i feelt S1 is very hard to live up to, but we will see.. acting still great from all cast in fact; A lot of background and community insight, complex and very human.

The Escape Artist – again Tennant and again at his very best; i loved this because it was very controversial, primetime and original in many ways; It was probably the most tense thing i’ve seen 15/10, off the scale and it is all in the viewer’s mind, not prompted by any visual gore at all; Which is why i think it was particularly good; the art of keeping the audience on edge without turning their stomachs and instead taking them to unusual moral grounds.

The Fall – riveting and so so good, Gillian Anderson and Jamie Dornan (she’s the cop, he’s the killer). Such interesting characters, not what you would expect and i marvelled at every episode how good it can be on such a low budget. S2 has just finished and i’m as excited about S3 as i was about S1 and S2. Little to no gore at all but plenty of psychological pits to fall in.

What i’m watching now

Some of which are 2nd seasons of last year’s new stuff-

The Blacklist – James Spader is brilliant and the idea is pretty original in mix, but it lives and breathes through his character. Interesting and controversial premise (which i like), quite on the edge tension wise. Almost in my upper tolerance level, but just, it’s episodic and the character development is strong throughout the series to keep you interested beyond some extreme tension moments. It’s in S2 at the moment, mid break and i can’t wait to see what’s next, one which has managed to be just as good in S2 as in S1.

Criminal Minds – oldie by now but still goldie, for me it still works as they managed to build a great actor team and the script continues to be good and fresh even after many seasons. A tough watch sometimes but once you get used to the format you learn that they keep carefully within a thin boundary.

Stalker – new on board so to speak, sort of fresh subject, well enough written so that it kept me guessing for quite a while about the main characters and still keeps me guessing at times. Dylan McDermott  does a great job in it and of the new stuff this is the only one which really caught my attention.

Elementary – S3 now and i haven’t missed an episode, very clever modernisation of the Sherlock Holmes idea with Jonny Lee Miller, Lucy Liu and Aidan Quinn. Witty fun with great casting (they kind of brainy stuff that really entertains me)

There’s repeats of a lot of stuff but the above are the things i made sure i recorded (to avoid any add breaks) and sat down and watched with eyes peeled. The is also Sherlock of course but that is on/off as they get round to filming it and some i like better than others. Let me know if you have any suggestions of things you have enjoyed 🙂