The procedural has become an almost ubiquitous presence on our TV screens, to the extent that any new show following a ‘crime of the week’ format needs a pretty good premise to stand out among the crowded pack. CBS’ Clarice certainly boasts an interesting hook as a sequel series to The Silence of the Lambs, but it’s also hindered by the fact that it can’t mention Hannibal Lecter at all.
The rights to Thomas Harris’ literary creations are split between two distinct camps, who either can’t or won’t come to an agreement. The reason why Clarice can’t mention the iconic cannibal is the the same reason why Bryan Fuller’s acclaimed Hannibal couldn’t adapt The Silence of the Lambs, and nothing’s going to change in that regard when Fuller is still holding out hope for a season 4 renewal somewhere.
That doesn’t mean Clarice exists solely on the fringes of the mythology, though, and it connects to the Academy Award winning modern classic in more ways than one, most notably in how the titular character’s involvement with the Buffalo Bill case has turned her into something of a celebrity within the FBI, but it’s also had a huge psychological effect.
Reviews have been decidedly lukewarm so far after the first three episodes were screened for critics, although star Rebecca Breeds has been winning strong notices for her central performance. The general consensus seems to be that Clarice has fallen into the exact traps everyone was hoping it would avoid, with CBS’ latest high profile procedural bringing nothing new to the genre other than a famous title character and a tangential connection to a classic film that it can’t even lean on for much inspiration.