This one’s tough. As I sit here nearly on the verge of sad, frustrated tears, this is something that fans have been dreading for some time now. NBC has pulled the plug on one of television’s most daring series, Hannibal.
The procedural-turned-serialized niche drama about the famed cannibal straight out of Thomas Harris’ novels and influenced by Anthony Hopkins’ stirring take on the iconic character is one for the ages. Specifically, the Golden Age of TV we currently reside in. Though it never gained in mass-popularly due to its intrinsically violent nature, Hannibal quickly proved its worth beyond the traditional scales of storytelling. Creator Bryan Fuller imagined and exquisitely executed a masterpiece program compelling its viewers with fine acting, engaging and wickedly smart dialogue, an eclectic, trancing score, and most all, with a uniquely bold direction, cinematography, and color palette that consistently evoked out-of-this-world dreamlike states of being. And yet, Hannibal always felt grounded in reality due much in part to its all-star leads. Mads Mikkelsen, who we all thought in the beginning would simply step into Hopkins’ shadow to replicate Dr. Lecter, did oh-so-much more than that with the character; with his diabolical flair for high society, Mikkelsen made Hannibal his own and swiftly managed to twist the serial killer into a deceptively compassionate–and at times–likable pro/antagonist. His match? Hugh Dancy, who effortlessly played crazy and controlled the dreamscapes that endlessly torment Will Graham throughout the series. Watching these actors revel in the cat-and-mouse game they love to play is as entertaining as it is addicting. Fuller wove a beautiful tapestry (not unlike Hannibal’s corpse-infused designs), and Mikkelsen and Dancy danced in it marvelously with grace and undeniable conviction.
As hard as it is to see the show go, the writing has been on the wall for awhile. Hannibal was never able to climb out of its low ratings hole, and so NBC had no choice but to mark season 3 as the end. It’s sad to leave these characters behind and even more frustrating to do so before their stories reach their natural conclusions. That being said, it’s hard to hate on the network that had the guts to give birth to such a peculiar kind of series. On top of the obvious violence, gore, and other “viewer discretion is advised” material that makes Hannibal what it is, Fuller wasn’t afraid to drizzle his show in copious amounts of philosophical and metaphysical exchanges you normally wouldn’t find on broadcast television. In fact, the same can be said for pretty much everything else this bizarre show set out to do. Oft-featured directors David Slade, Michael Rymer, and this season’s Vincenzo Natali wield the camera in ways that make our window into the world of Hannibal a character unto itself. Incessant close-ups of liquids like water and blood–in addition to most bizarre angles and dizzying mental lapses–successfully aided in driving viewers into the emotionally fractured abyss that Hannibal called home. You can literally pause the show at any moment and like magic you’re presented with a wonderfully construed canvas of artwork, every frame a unique painting, breathtaking to behold. Hannibal was never afraid to commit the unexpected, to look and sound and feel and taste, well, different from everything else. Now take all of these things into consideration; the network bet big on Fuller’s cinematic adaptation of this classic tale and fans should consider themselves lucky to have made it this far into the journey.
A most delicious experience it was (and continues to be) for Fannibals worldwide. As season 3 resumes, be sure to consume and enjoy every ticking second that goes by. Now that it’s grown out of its procedural roots, Hannibal has fully embraced its true design: Will hunting down his friend, his enemy, his equal in the show’s most beautiful scenery yet: Florence, Italy. And when it’s all over, an everlasting fact will remain: Hannibal, for all of its elegant flourishes and suspenseful, high-class drama, is the best premium cable show that aired on a broadcast network.
Jump after the break to see Fuller and NBC’s reactionary quotes to today’s news. READ MORE An ode to ‘Hannibal’ as TV’s boldest experiment gets the axe