[TV Review] CLARICE (2021, CBS)

We’ve explored the world of Thomas Harris’s novel The Silence of the Lambs for decades – normally most of the attention is focused on the main bad guy – Hannibal LectorNBC based an entire series on the man – critically acclaimed I might add but very little attention has been cast in the direction of Hannibal’s main interest – Clarice Starling.

This new series, now airing on CBS All Access – soon to become Paramount Plus – looks to change that. CLARICE pays no attention to any of the events – be it cinematic or written word – that occurred after the events with Buffalo Bill in the Silence of the Lambs universe. It picks up one year later with Clarice still struggling with the events of that day – PTSD taking a hefty toll on her work and personal life.

This new series is only two episodes in – and already there has been an avalanche of naysayers comparing the show to the film from which it spawned – also the NBC show Hannibal – which honestly has zero to do with this series – and just basically ripping this show for being a candy-coated version of Thomas Harris’s brain spawn.

I have to say that I disagree.

This show will succeed or fail on the shoulders of Rebecca Breeds – she plays Clarice Starling and I have to say – I find her stellar in the role. Dare I say almost as good as Jodie Foster? WHAT???

It’s important to note – the showrunners are taking the Clarice character in a different direction here – we are seeing the vulnerable side of this complicated – highly damaged – brilliant FBI agent.

The pilot episode aptly titled The Silence Is Over confronts the backstory of Clarice and her handling of the events from Silence of the Lambs – through a series of flashbacks and nightmares we quickly learn that Starling is far from over her run-in with Buffalo Bill. But – she powers on.

She tends to have a problem with authority – and she also tends to pretty much always be right in her reading of a situation. By the end of the first episode we find out that Ruth Martin is now Attorney General – and still speaks with Starling – and Catherine Martin, who you should remember as the girl in the well that Clarice rescued when she killed Jame Gumb is now a recluse and for some reason has kept Precious, the little white poodle that belonged to Gumb – that revelation was really the only groan-worthy moment in the opening episode for me. Not sure why the dog needs to be there.

In the second episode – titled Ghosts of Highway 20, the show begins to find its footing a bit. There is no doubt that they are heading down the path of a lot of these popular crime shows already on the air – Criminal Minds, CSI, etc., but I like the added layer of complexity that Starling brings to the table – and I like Rebecca Breeds portrayal of the character we all thought we knew.

It’s far too early to make a call on if CLARICE will survive past its debut season but based on what I’ve seen so far – it at least deserves a chance.

Dave Dreher
Co-Founder / Lead News Reporter at Gruesome Magazine
Dave is co-founder and lead news reporter for Gruesome. Dave has built his resume working for Diabolique Magazine, The Horror Channel, Horrornews.net, House of Horrors and Creature Corner. He has worked with Tom Savini on his official site since 1997 and is also co-host of the popular podcast Horror News Radio.