It’s been one week since what could very well be the series finale as well as the third season finale of Hannibal, based on Hannibal Lecter and other characters created by Thomas Harris, premiered. NBC has declined to keep the show going, and while the show’s producers Bryan Fuller and Martha De Laurentiis, as well as series star Mads Mikkelsen and the many, many fans of the show (“Fannibals” or “Lecterites”, if you will), would love to see the show go on in some form, there is a chance that the show will have to hang up the carving knife and that everyone associated with it will have to move onto new projects.
Personally, I hope that the show is still able to go on, maybe as a feature film as Fuller has hinted at, or maybe moves to Starz or Amazon (though if it’s the former and not the latter I may have to wait till the show is on DVD or Netflix, depending on my financial situation). Also, I think it’s a good investment to keep the show going. Yeah, Hannibal has always been ratings-challenged, which is why NBC cancelled it in the first place. However, they knew a show focusing on a serial killer was a risk to begin with, and they still went with it for three years, as did huge legions of fans.
Why? Well obviously Hannibal Lecter is a famous character who was already well-known because of Harris’ novels, the movie Manhunter, and the three Anthony Hopkins films. But that only drew people to the show in the first place. The reason they stayed is because the show’s creators managed to take the concept of a serial killer show, and elevate it to art. Fuller and his team could’ve simply created a simple procedural show with serial killers like The Following with a famous literary and film character in the mix. Instead they built on that premise and made most of the sets exquisite to the eye, turned ordinary conversations into psychologically and philosophically engaging character explorations that could evolve into verbal tennis matches sometimes, and gave every shot a purpose in how it was filmed.
Add into all that the brilliant characters: Hugh Dancy as the socially-troubled empath profiler Will Graham, Lawrence Fishburne as the ends-justify-the-means, will-do-anything-to-catch-the-killers FBI director Jack Crawford, and of course the quiet gentleman devil with a love of grilling up those who are rude or offensive, Hannibal Lecter himself. Every character brings something to the table, making you want to watch them interact with each other right up until the very (sometimes bloody) end. And of course, the brilliant writing. Even at the show’s less exciting moments, the writers till were able to make you want to keep watching, to find out what happens next. From the growing relationship between Will and Hannibal in the first season, to the terrifying flash-forward at the beginning of the second season, and Will’s struggle to truly rid himself of Hannibal in the third season, it just kept you watching.
Hannibal is art. Creepy, bloody, psychologically strange and terrifying art, but it is art nonetheless, and that’s something you don’t usually see with television shows. I honestly can’t say if Hannibal will go on in some form or another (I’m not psychic), but if it doesn’t, at least we know that it had an ending that tied up most of the loose ends of the story, and the ones left behind we can easily guess at. And with streaming and DVD releases, fans could still watch it and relive the beautiful psychological horror that the show was.
Still, I hope for more. The show was awesome, and Fuller had a vision to continue the show, even if he couldn’t get the characters from Silence of the Lambs (I would’ve loved to see how they changed up Clarice Starling and Buffalo Bill, seeing as I found one annoying and the other slightly comical). If allowed to continue, we could see some award-worthy horror on our screens someday.
So while we wait and squirm and wonder at the show’s fate, I’ll continue to hope. Because if the story of the strange relationship between a man and a monster in a man’s skin can intrigue me and so many other people, then surely it can attract a TV executive or two. And the story that ended too soon won’t end at all.
Oh and NBC, why do you keep doing this to me?! First Dracula, then Hannibal? Stop cancelling these creepy genre shows I really like!