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Entertainment Geekly: Why 'Hannibal' is the better version of 'True Detective' and 'Fargo'


Entertainment Geekly is a weekly column that examines pop culture through a geek lens and simultaneously examines contemporary geek culture through a pop lens. So many lenses!

To clarify the headline above: I liked True Detective and Fargo. They were well-acted, well-shot, well-dialogued. HBO’s mystery melodrama and FX’s Coen remix had different tones and different site-specific atmospheres–moody nihilism vs. screwball nihilism, sunbaked desolation vs. snowcaked void, Southern Swamp Gothic vs. Frozen Norman Rockwell–but if you watched them live when they aired, then you knitted together an 18-episode viewing experience representing a snapshot of Why TV Drama Is Interesting Now.

True Detective and Fargo are the foremost exemplars of a new way of producing television. Pick your buzzword: Limited series, anthology, movie stars who want to play something besides Superhero or Superhero’s Father. And the two shows rhyme somehow. They both have severe third-act time jumps; they both have an attention-grabbing long take action scene; and they both so badly want to say something about something. Lead characters speak in koans: “Time is a flat circle,” the glove on the train platform. Billy Bob Thornton on Fargo is a distant relative of the Yellow King on True Detective: Omnipresent yet absent, a chameleon hiding in plain sight. Rust and Marty equal Molly and Gus, archetype-wise (the Cop Who Gets Obsessed, the Cop With The Symbolic Daughter). Fargo is funnier and True Detective is sadder and True Detective is sexier and Fargo has actual female characters. They’re both noir, though, or trying to be: They’re both meditations on the Evil, on Life, on man’s place in the universe or lack thereof. If you watched them, you watched two of the best dramas of 2014.

Hannibal blows them both out of the water. READ FULL STORY

mtvU's Fandom Awards pit 'Sherlock,' 'Doctor Who,' 'Supernatural' fans (and others) against each other


Listen up, Tumblr users, fan-fiction writers, cosplayers, and Redditors—and even you, people of the Internet who casually upvote and reblog. Have you ever wanted recognition for loving the things you love? Well, it’s time for you to win some awards.

MTV’s 24-hour college network, mtvU, announces the categories and nominees for the first annual “mtvU Fandom Awards” today. The categories include everything from “Fandom Feat of the Year” (which is more valuable, a successful Kickstarter campaign, a la Veronica Mars, or a successful season renewal,a la Community?) to “‘Ship of the year,” which includes suggestions both canon and not (like Hunger Games’ Katniss and Peeta, and Sherlock’s Sherlock and John, respectively).


'The Walking Dead,' 'The Following,' and 'Hannibal': Less is more when it comes to gore

What, exactly, does getting stabbed sound like? It’s an issue to which the makers of Fox’s serial-killer drama The Following have clearly devoted serious consideration. Stabbings are the show’s money shots, and no effort has been spared to make them sound wet, dense, and destructive, as if a dagger were being plunged into a bag of overripe tomatoes, shaved ice, and Cap’n Crunch. NBC’s Hannibal is more interested in the look of ripping skin, constructing elaborate prostheses to show exactly what it’s like when epidermis is pulled away to expose glistening viscera. Ironically, none of the show’s living characters have human skin tone — they all look like reanimated corpses, the way the Sopranos cast used to in those overstaged “Here’s the new season” ads — but the dead ones are robustly flesh-and-bloody, all moist maroons and magentas. And after four seasons, AMC’s The Walking Dead has become even more refined in its simulations of what disintegrating skull and zombie brain pulp look like when a shotgun shell separates them from an extra’s dirty neck.

These shows are defiantly gross, gory, and explicit. They are, in their ways, everything that horror should be. Except scary. READ FULL STORY

'Hannibal' season 2 premiere react: Inspector Lecter the Cannibal Detector

Welcome back to everyone’s favorite horror show about well-to-do cannibals — outside of the Real Housewives franchise, at least. The grand game of psychological Connect Four being waged between erudite gore-met Hannibal Lecter and the mentally unstable, Patronus-summoning Will Graham continues into its second season. Everything pretty much picks up where we left off, with roles and expectations reversed: Will is currently occupying the Psycho Suite at the Chilton Hotel & Resort while Dr. Lecter has become “the new Will Graham.” It’s a really exciting place to start for a show’s sophomore season, with all coils tensed and hammers cocked back. READ FULL STORY

Emmy Awards: What is the best drama ... on network television? -- POLL

Fifteen years doesn’t seem that long ago, but for the television industry, 1998 may as well be the Dark Ages. One only needs to look at that year’s Emmy nominees for Outstanding Drama Series to realize just how much the landscape has changed. The Practice took home the ceremony’s most prestigious trophy, edging ER, Law & Order, NYPD Blue, and The X-Files. Turns out, it was the last time — ever, most likely — that all the nominees for Outstanding Drama “aired” on television. That is to mean that they were broadcast by one of the major free-TV network stations.

The following year, The Sopranos joined the exclusive nominee club, and even though The Practice repeated as Outstanding Drama, television has never been the same. David Chase’s HBO “family” drama would break through in 2004, winning the first of its two Emmys for Outstanding Drama, and shows like Six Feet Under, Deadwood, Damages, Dexter, Mad Men, Big Love, True Blood, and Breaking Bad went on to prove that cable was simply the superior sandbox for creative, compelling television. Last year, none of the six nominees for Outstanding Drama were network shows, an occurrence repeated this morning that reinforces network’s fleeting chances, especially since House of Cards‘ nomination signals the next trend in television consumption.

That’s not to say that there aren’t some great dramas on network television. In fact, I almost think some network dramas would’ve received great critical attention if they simply had the cachet of a cable network behind them. Take Hannibal, for example. It’s a deliciously dark take on Thomas Harris’ famous characters, with two dynamic performances from Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelson. Would the show have received more Emmy love if it was on Showtime? Ditto for Scandal if it was on FX? Have we now reached the point where we’re discounting shows simply for being on 20th-century television?

I don’t expect the Academy will ever resort to a tiered award system, separating network shows from cable shows — and I wouldn’t want them to. But after shutting out the networks for two straight years (yes, PBS has Downton Abbey, but even that period drama originated elsewhere), we need some way to honor the best programs on free TV.

Why don’t we simply vote right now? Click below and select the best — not necessarily your favorite — network drama. We can call it The Practice Memorial Award.

PopWatch Planner: Cher on 'The Voice,' 'Monsters University,' 'World War Z,' and more

Man of Steel opening weekend has come and gone. Was it everything you’re tempered expectations had hoped it would be? Maybe you saw The Bling Ring and left even more in love with Sofia Coppola and Emma Watson. Wait, you didn’t see either? Did you…like… go outside? Really? Was there nothing on your DVR to catch up on? Well, if your sunburn keeps you in this week or your pop culture appetite refuses to be satiated, check out our guide for what to watch and go see this week: READ FULL STORY

'Hannibal' after Boston: What happens when TV networks try to be 'sensitive' to tragic events

Tonight’s episode of Hannibal dramatizes a timely theme: Our response – and responsibility – to human suffering, natural or unnatural. Caution: SPOILERS ahead. “Coquilles” introduces us to two people who’ve been diagnosed with terminal cancer. They choose to cope with their illness in different ways, neither way healthy. One character keeps it a secret from her husband because she’s doesn’t want to burden him, creating more dissonance in an already strained marriage. Another character, made monstrous by his disease (and perhaps other manipulative influences), forces his burden onto others in a bizarre, brutal way, with a convoluted justification that perhaps only Dexter – or a terrorist — might find understandable. READ FULL STORY

NBC releases illustrated pilot script for 'Hannibal'

Did you eat up the Hannibal premiere last week? Well then you’ll positively feast on the news that NBC has released the pilot script, complete with bloody illustrations, production notes, and episode stills.

A few minor, but crucial, things are different: For example, in the script we see Hugh Dancy’s Will Graham first practice his mind trickery on a yoga mat, and the police officers and agents he works beside don’t seem fazed by his reverse-analysis. Also, that golden FRUM-ing arc of light is actually a pendulum, if (like me) you hadn’t already figured that out.

PopWatch Planner: '42' opens, plus music from Paramore and the ACM Awards

The weather is warming up, the brown things are turning green, and it’s time to watch some baseball. Or, if stadiums aren’t your thing, watch some baseball in a dark theater on a giant screen. Advance word on the Jackie Robinson flick 42 is quiet, though the First Family loves it.

The buzz on 42 – plus other things the White House has yet to approve for your week — below.


'Hannibal': Five thoughts from the premiere

The latest incarnation of Hannibal Lecter arrives in the form of a TV show. Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen) is introduced about halfway through NBC’s premiere as the would-be psychologist to Hugh Dancy’s FBI profiler Will Graham.

Will struggles with his emotions because of his ability to empathize with anyone. It’s this trait that allows him to get inside the minds of the criminals to ultimately solve the case, but it comes at the price of his sanity. FBI director Jack Crawford (Laurence Fishburne) reaches out to Dr. Lecter, hoping he can psychoanalyze Graham. Little does Crawford know what Hannibal will really bring to the table.

In the premiere, Lecter helps Graham catch the bad guy — a man who is murdering girls his daughter’s age by impaling them with deer antlers and then eating their organs — but not before the good doctor warns the perpetrator that the FBI is on to him.

There’s also the matter of a copycat killer — who may or may not be Lecter himself. (Of course, we know Hannibal’s true nature — still, the show leaves it up in the air.) Here are a few thoughts that I was left with after watching the episode. READ FULL STORY

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