This week we welcome back to your screen two transatlantic crime thriller icons.
First up is Hannibal, who returns to Sky Living tomorrow night at 10pm.
The first season of the horror drama about the titular cannibal was one of last year’s most-pleasant TV surprises. It was compelling entertainment: a masterclass in slow-burn storytelling and visually very striking, with all those antlers and suchlike.
Now it’s back for a second series, with Mads Mikkelsen once again playing Dr. Lecter with chilling understatement, a welcome contrast to the scenery-chewing of Mr. Hopkins.
Taking its characters from Thomas Harris’s novel Red Dragon, the series explores the relationship of deranged FBI profiler Will Graham – and the even more insane psychiatrist, and talented culinary enthusiast, who helps him solve cases. Trouble is, at the end of the last series, Graham was in clink, having realised too late that Lecter, who was more than a little implicated in most of the unsolved murders, had done him up like a kipper for the crimes.
Taking his artistic cues from David Lynch, showrunner Bryan Fuller’s stated intention is to explore new stories about these familiar characters in the first three seasons, and then segue into a retelling of Red Dragon, The Silence Of The Lambs and Hannibal in the fourth, fifth and sixth seasons. It’ll then be concluded with an original storyline for the seventh. Thankfully, we will live without a reimagining of the masterpiece that is Hannibal Rising.
But it was touch and go as to whether Hannibal would return after the first series. Despite the great reviews, and a vocal fanbase, low-ratings threatened to scupper a second portion of H. It was renewed, however, and this new series introduces classic Lecter nemesis Mason Verger. He’s the chap with the pigs. This year’s US ratings show signs of lifting out of the sludge, so maybe it’ll even return for a third. Fingers crossed on that.
It’s only been a year since we last saw Hannibal and Will, but it’s been an awful lot longer since poor old Jack Bauer went on the run. But now – rejoice! – Jack’s back.
The unlucky counter-terrorist agent has been minding his own business since 2010, but you can be sure that nefarious people are going to give Jack a bad day in the new mini-series 24: Live Another Day.
Any time some miscreant smuggles nuclear weapons or assassinates the president they pin the blame on Jack. It’s now happened nine times — someone give the guy a break.
Excitingly, in this 12-part season Jack goes on the run in London! Hackney cabs! Red buses! The Gherkin! Hello, guvnor! Let’s just hope he doesn’t waste a whole hour of his precious day setting up a congestion charge direct debit.
Before the mooted TV return of 24, the original idea was for Jack to return in a feature film – there was even talk that it would be a 24/Die Hard crossover! – but that never panned out.
However, with the real time one hour/one episode format squeezed into half the usual amount of episodes, let’s hope the producers haven’t dicked around too much with what made the whole thing work in the first place.
24: Live Another Day is on tomorrow night at 9pm on Sky1. But if you’re a stone cold 24 fan – or maybe just an insomniac – the first two episodes are being simulcast with the US tomorrow morning at 1am.