I didn’t write a “Save This Show” piece for Hannibal earlier this week because I honestly didn’t think it would take this long for another outlet to overtly express interest. Hannibal is a show that has everything going for it … except that which matters to the bottom line. It’s gorgeously crafted, hauntingly scored, emotionally acted, and features some of the most grotesquely mesmerizing aesthetics of perhaps any show ever on the air. It also has been pulling a 0.5 share in the key 18-49 demographic for NBC.
So by the numbers, NBC made a fairly sound business decision to not renew it, even though NBC has been desperately trying to find shows that will help define its network, and Hannibal is exceptional and certainly stands out more than anything else NBC has on. But I’m not going to spend a lot of time extolling the specific virtues of Hannibal, because I do that quite a bit already (and you can check out Chris’ recaps for weekly explorations into each artistic movement). Suffice it to say, the show deserves to continue. So let’s look at some of the ways that may happen.
Last year, Hannibal showrunner Bryan Fuller told Collider that he was exploring backup plans to make sure Season 3 happened, because it was so essential to the story he wanted to tell (his full plan for Hannibal has always been a 7-season arc). However, since Season 3’s pickup, Fuller has shifted slightly in saying that Season 4 could easily become a psychological thriller movie.
The reality is, as Fuller has acknowledged in several press rounds this week, when a show moves to another network, it changes. But in many ways, that may fit with Hannibal’s significant growth and change it already experiences every season. The question is, who might want to save this show, and take on the risk that it won’t pick up more of an audience?
Despite Fuller telling THR that there are several suitors interested in picking up the show, the most likely (and practical) one is Amazon. Not only is Amazon looking to beef up its original content (so far its only hit is the critically adored Transparent), it already owns the exclusive streaming rights to Hannibal’s first 3 seasons. The deal could be similar to Hulu picking up The Mindy Project after Fox cancelled it, because Hulu already owned the streaming rights. And for those still touting Netflix as a savior, Fuller also explained that while Netflix has been interested, the Amazon streaming deal precludes that from happening. (I would love to see the show paired with some current series running on Showtime or especially Cinemax, but I doubt either will come to pass).
Another component to all of this is that Fuller is also going to be the co-showrunner of the upcoming American Gods series, although he did assure fans that would not interfere with the future of Hannibal (that the schedules could be worked to not conflict).
As for the question of story rights to Silence of the Lambs (which the show has not been able to get access too), apparently that’s not yet a problem. Though that Clarice storyline was originally meant to be introduced in Season 4, it’s now been pushed to Season 5, which will give more time to be able to incorporate that story (or do a workaround, if needed). For now, though, the big addition to Season 3 will be the Red Dragon plot, which will come into play in Episode 8. And moving beyond that, Fuller told Collider recently that,
If we don’t get another season, it would make a great movie. It’s such a wonderful, contained story that launches out of the Season 3 finale. Once again, it redefines everybody and recontextualizes them in a brand new way, that you haven’t seen in the first three seasons. It feels like it’s an evolution of the story that we’re telling, as well as a radical step in a new direction.
So basically, we need this. Hannibal has brought a level of art, with its devilish brand of sophistication, to television. It’s important to the TV canon. And damnit, it’s just good. Save this show, Amazon, or somebody. The Fannibals beg you.
Hannibal airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on NBC, and will finish its full third season in that time slot (before hopefully moving elsewhere).