TV: Hannibal - The Final Course

Has NBC lost it’s damn mind? Cancel Hannibal? What?

The Silence of the Lambs prequel series is one of the most critically acclaimed shows on television. In an era where there is so much competition from cable and online streaming, it’s baffling NBC would give up on a much needed quality series that pulls in viewers. Then again, this is the same network that screwed over Conan O’Brien with that whole Tonight Show debacle. Series creator Bryan Fuller had already begun working on the storyline for a fourth and final season which would have properly linked the series with the events of the 1991 Academy Award winning film. Instead, NBC has chosen to continue to over promote yet another season of The Voice and America’s Got Talent. How in the world a show like Grimm has lasted for as long as it has (soon to be 5 seasons) only adds to NBC’s pathetic idiocy. What’s next? Maybe American Ninja Warrior will take over Hannibal’s old time slot. Or even worse, they’ll start showing re-runs of Parenthood.    

"Sir Anthony who?"

Why Hannibal Is So Successful:

Hannibal seduces viewers with its enticing art direction. The use of techniques such as duel fade imagery, kaleidoscope panning, and it’s abstracted over zoomed attention to detail is a mind stimulant that taps into a viewer’s subconscious. It softens the lines between reality and the dream sequences the series often dives into to give the audience a deeper psychological understanding. Often paired with classic Japanese percussion, Hannibal gives the impression of a living painting, which often mirrors Dr. Lecter's affinity for arranging his victims to represent classic works of art. Hannibal also executes this attention during scenes of food preparation and consumption. All such "edible" montages are accompanied with classical music. It stirs a beauty to the process, tapping into the audience’s emotions. There is art, and death, and resurrection. It’s like watching a caterpillar becoming a butterfly as one thing becomes another. The end result is mouthwatering, soul touching, and depending on the dish, repulsive. Yet that is another successful factor to Hannibal - to simultaneously stimulate opposite feelings with its viewers. 

When it comes to Hannibal Lecter, there is an interesting like-ability to Mads Mikkelson’s portrayal. Yes he is a serial killer, but he is very much the anti-hero. With all do respect to Anthony Hopkins, Mikkelson has taken the reins to one of cinema/ literature’s most fascinating villains and have given the character new life. Mikkelson’s ever changing Lecter is relevant to the times. What the first 2 seasons gave us was a relaxed, non-threatened Dr. Lecter, a wolf in sheep’s clothing, grazing in the meadows of the FBI. His psychological profiles of crimes were confessions unbeknownst to those around him. Silence Of The Lambs gave us a Hannibal behind bars. Locked away in a darkened corridor for the horrendous crimes of murder and cannibalism. The setting was partially responsible for instigating such creepy emotions with viewers. With Hannibal, audiences are introduced to a respected man and colleague. Mikkelson also provides a physicality to the role that the films lacked. He's given dominant performances to fight scenes of brutal force and strength. It’s a more realistic approach to the sadistic actions of a brute and calculating killer.  

Dr. Lecter would not be as intriguing to viewers if they were not able to experience him through Will Graham’s eyes/ visions. Played by Hugh Dancy, Graham is tormented by his ability to empathize with psychopaths, often putting himself in a killers shoes. He’s a unique character that gives the audience an in depth behind the scenes look while sacrificing his name and sanity to unveil the truth. As Dr. Lecter’s intellectually respected antagonist, Graham creates a unique balance that provides even more depth to an already deep storyline.  Adding to Hannibal’s success is an impressive team of co-stars. Laurence Fishburne, Gillian Anderson, and Katharine Isabelle have all lent their superior talents to Fuller’s well written script. Isabelle’s character Margot Verger is especially fascinating. She could sustain her own spin off series. Quick, someone call the Soska sisters!

Perhaps one of the more shocking elements of Hannibal is the gore. It surprisingly trumps any of the gruesome scenes from the film series. While both mediums properly execute the psychological horrors the franchise is known for, the series has shocked viewers with ghastly imagery that is setting a new standard for modern television. Abstract body mutilation, human chest cavity bee hives, and the postmortem torture technique the Colombian Necktie (google it!) have all found their way to basic network television. The show is trailblazer to say the least. To see it come to an end after it’s third season is bittersweet. 

What’s Next For Hannibal?

We all knew it would end sometime. Prequels only have a limited life. Yet knowing Fuller had a definitive ending and planned to end the series after it’s fourth season makes NBC’s premature cancellation all the more ludicrous. Thankfully today, cable and online streaming have provided outlets to continue. While Fannibals are begging NBC to reconsider, perhaps its best to move on to a network that appreciates the artistic mastery that Bryan Fuller brings to the table. Make it darker, bloodier, and present it for what it is. 

"Ahhhhh....the old shower
in blood trick. That one never gets old."
At it’s core the series revolves around a serial killer immune to suffering, who acts without remorse, and who has a appetite for his victims. It is not about a knife wielding masked horror villain, or a paranormal entity that taunts it's victims. It’s a frightening look at the evils of the human heart, and the real horrors man is capable of. A more R-rated presentation would allow for a more raw presentation. With the amount of support Hannibal has received since it’s cancellation, Netflix, Amazon, and F/X should all seriously take this series into consideration and give Hannibal his just desserts. Pun intended! As for NBC, they are more done than an over cooked pan of liver and fava beans. 

Nothing But Cancellations.

StumbleUpon Reddit Pinterest Facebook Twitter Addthis

-Lee L. Lind