The latest CBS drama series “Clarice” is slightly less than perfect without any structure. Anyone familiar with the broadcast network’s chosen genre of foregone crime proceedings would likely be satisfied (but not thrilled), and anyone looking for more should beware. Even the most averse to pop culture will likely come with some experience in “Clarice”.
Only the latter serves as a backstory here, but all are reasonable points of comparison, and all are vastly superior to ‘Clarice’. There is the recent TV show “Hannibal”, the less recent movie “Hannibal” and Jonathan Demme’s 1991 Oscar-winning masterpiece, “The Silence of the Lambs”; only the latter acts as a background here, but they are all rational reference points, and they are all superior to “Clarice”.
The continuation of Alex Kurtzman and Jenny Lumet’s Buffalo Bill quickly places the lead (now played by Rebecca Breeds) as an outsider to the FBI, who is hated by jealous colleagues for her widely publicized experience of capturing a serial killer, who took over a year after Clarice Starling picks up. Buffalo Bill tracked down. (The show cannot name Hannibal Lecter by name due to rights issues.) Her boss thinks she’s lucky, the press follows her like a star, and all she wants to do: help victims.
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Clarice will solve case after case to prove herself to the higher educated, her teammates and herself over the course of God knows how many seasons – which works well with the show’s case-of-the-week style, augmented somewhat by a serialized conspiracy storyline. Grab the criminals! Solve the puzzles! Make friends with your teammates! Does this ring a bell? It should, and that’s on purpose.
You won’t be able to distinguish Clarice Starling from the long list of not-so-special agents on TV in less than 45 minutes. Even if you can bear to see Clarice Starling turned into a stereotypical TV officer, there’s still more to tinkering with characters. After that, more logical jumps are expected. The pilot episode is a jumble of exhibits, allusions and illogical stories.
As the pilot progresses, it becomes increasingly clear that the most fascinating elements of Clarice’s story are being overlooked. Because it represented the most crucial moment in the life of the protagonist (and possibly Hannibal), “The Silence of the Lambs” left such an impression.
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As a result, the rote nature of her current story only reinforces how dynamic her previous story was, reminding viewers that they are being asked to remember Clarice from past stories while welcoming a new Clarice that doesn’t look like her.
There is something spiritually depressing about having a charismatic, often inspiring character constantly boxed in. Even if you don’t know about its history, “Clarice” is more than capable of crushing your dreams.