Joining Norman in the back from the pop culture beyond genre later this season will be Hannibal, a prime time prequel that follows FBI profiler Will Graham(Hugh Dancy) in the early days of his career and the beginnings of his professional partnership with renowned psychiatrist and secretive serial killer Dr. Lecter(Mads Mikkelson) .
For those of you wondering "Hey,where's Clarice?",this connection between Lecter and Graham came well before Silence of the Lambs,in author Thomas Harris' earlier novel Red Dragon. That book has been adapted twice for the silver screen(the superior version being 1986's Manhunter,in my opinion) and based on what I've seen so far in the promo for Hannibal,the small screen rendition promises to offer a nearly similar amount of sinister suspense and startling gore(you have been warned):
TV is no stranger to reviving familiar pop culture figures,whether it's superheroes(Smallville),space explorers(Battlestar Galactica) or fashionistas(The Carrie Diaries). In fact,it can be seen as a creative challenge for both writers and actors to place their own spin on such well known story lines and quotable characters.
However, making something so ingrained within the pop culture psyche fresh and new is truly a tall order there of Brobdingnagian proportions:
To get a idea of what works well in the sphere of character restarts,let's look at Elementary,the latest contemporary take on Sherlock Holmes. The show has done well with audiences and critics alike,despite a few quibbles from diehard fans regarding some of the changes made from the Arthur Conan Doyle template,and is a smart and snarky mystery series with true dramatic bite.
Considering that this is the third Sherlock Holmes retake we've seen within the past decade(that includes two blockbuster films with Robert Downey Jr. and a touch of steampunk sensibility as well as a lauded BBC series),how is it that the time honored detective manages to step a step ahead of the game here?
One clear advantage that Holmes has is that he is an open ended character. Granted,he does have certain traits and supporting players to take along with him for each new outing but as long as there are puzzling crimes to be solved,Sherlock Holmes takes root easily anywhere he goes. Even in this latest version,despite change of country,time period and gender(for his protege Watson),the dectective's uncanny mental skills and off beat relationship with others are still as sharp and surprising as ever:
That send-off,however,didn't keep Sherlock Holmes down for long and for generations, the return of Baker Street's greatest crime fighter has delighted mystery lovers and given them new memorable moments of suspense.
That is the trick to reviving classic characters for most mediums,I think,subverting predisposed expectations. For example, I didn't believe that Once Upon a Time had a chance in hell of sustaining their story line beyond the first season but they certainly have. By expanding their universe with other fantasy characters and taking the whole "what if I made my own happy ending?" concept to greater depths,all the doors of possibility are open for this lot to walk on through.
While I wish the best of luck to Norman and Hannibal,they may want to take a page from this set of fairy tales(or Holmes' handbook) and see if they can spin any yarns that will even make the most jaded of pop culture players sit up and take notice,as well as want more: