Jake Johnson, Zooey Deschanel
You can't help but get a deliciously squirmy tingle when the infamous (to the viewer, anyway) Hannibal Lecter quips, "It's nice to have an old friend for dinner" while serving tongue to his guests, including an unctuous and chatty shrink whom Lecter sizes up by coolly noting, "Your tongue is very feisty."
This scenario takes place several episodes into the midseason run of NBC's feverishly twisted, fascinatingly macabre and visually remarkable procedural-with-a-twist Hannibal (Thursday, 10:01/9:01c), by which time I was completely creeped out and thoroughly hooked. In much the same way A&E's Bates Motel introduces a younger version of Norman Bates before he had his crazy mama mummified in the cellar, Bryan Fuller's Hannibal presents the mad Dr. Lecter before his secret identity as a cannibalistic serial killer is known to anyone but his victims. He is caginess personified, taking on the role of advisor and therapist to tormented FBI profiler/consultant Will Graham (from Thomas Harris' Red Dragon). Will has an ability to project "pure empathy" and see grisly crimes from the killer's POV, which Lecter describes quite accurately as "an uncomfortable gift."
Usually, Richard Castle's overactive imagination is a good thing — so good that as he helps his NYPD buddies solve scores of murders, you often wonder how they'd ever get along without him. In the set-up for Castle's clever lark of a 100th episode on ABC (Monday, 10:01/9:01c), they're forced to go solo as Castle (Nathan Fillion in rare form) stews in boredom in his apartment, nursing a busted leg. Until he picks up his new birthday binoculars and goes all Jimmy Stewart-in-Rear Window, convinced he's witnessed a murder across the street, eventually drawing his beloved Beckett and intrepid daughter Alexis into the Hitchcockian-homage intrigue. The more agitated Castle gets, the more skeptical everyone else becomes, and as the twists and comically suspenseful close calls pile up, leading to yet another chewing-out by that spoilsport Capt. Gates, we're treated to an entertaining object lesson in the "seeing isn't believing" playbook. Well done, including the timely subplot involving the murder of an IRS agent which, even when chair-bound, Castle can't help inadvertently helping his friends figure out.
This is the night NBC has been waiting for all year. A rough 2013 it has been, for sure, with prime time in freefall and even institutions like the Today and Tonight shows embattled by negative PR. You might begin to think Do No Harm isn't just a bad memory, but a motto the Peacock network somehow just can't seem to live up to.
If the tide is ever to start turning, it will be on Mondays, with the return of the game-changing The Voice (8/7c) and its irresistible, instantly iconic "Blind Audition" episodes. New to the hot seats: Shakira and Usher, filling in this cycle for Cee Lo Green and Christina Aguilera, with NBC hoping it doesn't matter who's sitting in those revolving chairs. The show's the thing, and this has always been the best part of The Voice.
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Question: This is more a commentary than a question, but what are your thoughts on Southland? Ben McKenzie and Shawn Hatosy have recently landed new pilots, so it would appear that this will be the last season of the very fine cop show Southland. Yes, the show is an ensemble and could certainly go on without the two characters they portray, but it would be a different Southland without them, even with a cast as strong as one that includes Regina King and C. Thomas Howell.
Our top moments of the week:
15. Tackiest Move: After Andy Dick's earnestly charming debut dance on Dancing with the Stars, Brooke Burke-Charvet bursts the positive-energy bubble in the room by abruptly and awkwardly asking Dick about being a recovering addict. "Is there a part of you that's concerned, considering that you're a recovering addict, of the pressure that the show puts on everyone?" she asks. "Uh, OK, so you went there," Dick replies, before...
Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites
When one of this season's more agreeable Survivor contestants, Dawn, tearfully declared, "I don't want to be here" during Brandon Hantz's epic and ugly tirade of a meltdown last week, I imagine she was speaking for many of us.
Ellen Pompeo, January Jones, Julianna Margulies
Every week, editors Adam Bryant and Natalie Abrams satisfy your need for TV scoop. Please send all questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @adam_bryant or @NatalieAbrams.
What's coming up on Grey's Anatomy? — Heather
NATALIE: A breakup! One of the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital couples will be calling it quits after some serious dishonesty in the relationship. Shonda Rhimes would have my head if I told you who, but I'll give you this one hint: It's not...
Tom Bergeron, Karina Smirnoff, Jacoby Jones
Dancing with the Stars' Season 16 premiere topped Monday, leading ABC to an easy win.
The two-hour episode drew 16.8 million viewers and a 3.1 in the adults 18-to-49 demographic. It's down four-tenths from last spring's opener, but up 24 percent over the fall's low-rated All-Stars premiere. The show delivered ABC's biggest audience and second-highest rating in the time period since April, according to the network.
TV Scorecard: What's renewed? What's canceled?
Lead-out Castle (11 million, 2.2) was down a tenth from its last ...
Psychos are enjoying a TV renaissance, with The Following's poisonously seductive Joe Carroll setting the tone for the creepy comebacks of two of the most infamous fiends in all of pop culture. In a few weeks, NBC will reintroduce audiences to the ravenously deranged Hannibal (as in Lecter), and in case that makes you think about taking a shower, you might want to reconsider, because ...
Freddie Highmore and Vera Farmiga
Like Norman Bates of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller Psycho, the producers behind A&E's new drama series Bates Motel seem to be of two minds.
A&E's prequel, which premieres Monday at 10/9c and stars Finding Neverland's Freddie Highmore as a teenage Norman Bates, seeks to tell audiences how a young man grows up to be a taxidermy-loving killer. The answer posited by Hitchcock's film is that Norman was driven insane by his overprotective mother ...