Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

You Know What Happens Next

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

You Know What Happens Next

Article excerpt


Hannibal Lecter, Norman Bates and Carrie Bradshaw are not exactly a trio you'd naturally link together in your mind.

But right now, the three iconic characters -- two from feature films, one from an HBO hit -- do have one big thing in common: They have all spawned midseason television prequels, series that aspire to show viewers how they became the people we think we already know. "Hannibal," the third to arrive on the airwaves, premieres tonight.

Television has tried this approach before, with varying success - - from ABC's short-lived "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" (1992- 93) and Syfy's "Caprica" (2009-10), a prequel to "Battlestar Galactica" (2004-09), to the CW's long-running "Smallville" (2001- 11), about the teenage pre-Superman Clark Kent, and UPN's "Star Trek: Enterprise" (2001-05), about the early years of Starfleet.

Though clearly popular right now, prequels are also tricky, as "Hannibal" creator Bryan Fuller conceded during a recent teleconference with television reporters.

"I think we're very sentimental and that's why familiar stories told in a new way are very exciting," Fuller, heretofore mostly known for quirky series like "Pushing Daisies" and "Wonderfalls," said, citing "Star Wars" prequels. "Origin stories are intriguing, but very, very dangerous, because as we've seen before, Darth Vader isn't as interesting when you just find out he's a little kid who saw a bunch of Tusken Raiders kill his mom. We've seen other stories step on certain mines in the minefields of prequels."

Nevertheless, Hollywood at the moment is willing to take the risk.

The first of the new small-screen prequels to appear, on Jan. 14, was "The Carrie Diaries," in which AnnaSophia Robb plays the girl who grows up to be Sarah Jessica Parker's shoe-loving Carrie in HBO's late "Sex and the City."

Then, last month, came A&E's "Bates Motel," which chronicles the young life of Norman Bates (Freddie Highmore), who's destined to turn into the infamous fellow (Anthony Perkins) in Alfred Hitchcock's "Psycho" and its sequels.

And tonight, you'll see a very different Hannibal Lecter (Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen) -- as well as an unrecognizable FBI profiler Will Graham (British actor Hugh Dancy) -- in NBC's "Hannibal."

Both characters are from the horror novels of Thomas Harris, whose "Red Dragon" was actually made into two films: "Manhunter" (1986), in which Brian Cox played Lecter (spelled Lecktor because of copyright issues) and William Petersen was Graham; and "Red Dragon" (2002), in which Anthony Hopkins and Edward Norton had those roles. Hopkins was also Lecter in "The Silence of the Lambs" (1991) and "Hannibal" (2001). And in 2006, the novel "Hannibal Rising" was adapted into a same-named film, which attempted to explain Lecter's development into a serial killer. …

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