While the announcement of a series based around Clarice Starling may have gained plenty of sighs among Hannibal fans, the series premiere has given us something slick and strangely familiar.
The first point to praise is the pacing of the pilot, which quickly clears the deck from The Silence of the Lambs (which took place one year earlier) and brings us to the aftermath of Starling’s career.
Suffering from PTSD from her encounter with Buffalo Bill at the close of the seminal classic, she is assigned to a new homicide case by Senator Ruth Martin (mother of Catherine who Starling rescued from the clutches of Jame Gumb), working with old foe Paul Krendler.
In the novels Krendler becomes quite resentful of rookie Clarice for solving the Buffalo Bill case, with its narrative carried over into this series as he tries to undermine her at every stage.
‘Clarice’ feels more procedural than ‘Hannibal’ this does not stop it having some really gory visuals, involving both living and dead people. It may have been a concern going in that Lecter is not to be spoken of, but the show quickly sidesteps that to focus more on another side of Starling’s damaged psyche.
We do have some callbacks to Lambs that feel slightly too on the nose, but these are few and far between and given this is a pilot you can forgive the writers for wanting to reintroduce the unacquainted.
Rebecca Breeds is excellent as Clarice, and really channels a lot of Jodie Foster’s performance, whilst also showing off an innocence that hasn’t quite been broken from working in Behavioural Sciences.
‘Clarice’ will tread a very different path to Hannibal but by thrusting the titular character to the forefront we have the opportunity to explore many different cases and other under developed parts of the Lambs universe.
While cautious and solid, this is a slick and assured debut that promises to take on new quests with one of the most fascinating characters in horror history.
Clarice is screening now on CBS.