It’s always the argument against those who bitch about remakes that they, along with bad sequels, don’t take away your ability to enjoy the original. I think we’ll all agree though, that incessant pounding on a franchise or character can eventually have the effect of diluting the potency of the original, or miring it in so much baggage that watching it in a vacuum becomes difficult. Silence of the Lambs has been put to that test over the last 20 years, and that will continue as an hour-long prequel television show is being put together and will join the three theatrical follow ups to the original Oscar winner. Written by the guy behind Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, Bryan Fuller, the production is actually backed by a French studio that is pushing out into worldwide production.
According to Deadline, the show will “explore the early relationship of Thomas Harris’ signature character, renowned psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector, and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler named Will Graham, who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers.”
Obviously this is riffing on the part of the timeline that falls around Red Dragon, one of the three movies to toy with the character since Silence of the Lambs (I didn’t see Rising, so I can’t say how that might fit). And while those movies are not all uniformly awful (and granted, based on the original author’s books), they’ve certainly robbed the first film of the power it draws from Hannibal Lecter’s singular creepiness. Having seen him at all ages and in so many places, the imagery of the character is no longer restricted to the glass prison. That doesn’t ruin Silence of the Lambs, but it does make it a little less special.
But perhaps a different format will bring something fresh to the character and that story. Long-form TV shows are really only as good as their writing, so an excellently paced and developed show may be in the works that is simply branded in and around this long-recognizable franchise. Again, that won’t do much to help the dilution of Silence, but at this point what is there left to save?
Is there anything left to mine from the story of this particular cannibalistic psycho, or would sleeping dogs have been better left lying?