Tomorrow, June 4th, is the third season premier of NBC’s Hannibal. If you’re at all like me, you may have written NBC’s psycho-thriller off from the word go. And you wouldn’t have been wrong to do so. 2001’s Hannibal–Ridley Scott’s aggressively stupid sequel to the 1992 Best Picture winner The Silence of the Lambs–was not only the catalyst to Scott’s descent as a filmmaker (Black Hawk Down, notwithstanding), but was a canonical mess that threw the Hannibal-universe into disarray. Then Brett Ratner, America’s douchey big-brother with a video camera, took control of the franchise with 2003’s Red Dragon, a bland, pointless remake to Michael Mann’s 1986 film (and Hannibal Lecter’s silver screen debut) Manhunter. Then there was Hannibal Rising, a dreadful money-grab which you had forgotten existed and even now that I’ve reminded you of its existence, will forget it exists by the end of this sentence.
Point being: I get why you don’t want to watch NBC’s Hannibal. But you, like me (though I watched from the beginning, I went into the first episode with the sourest of reservations),
are wrong. After two seasons, it’s time to lose the grudge. Hannibal is the best show on television and it needs your help. No one is watching Hannibal. Well, to be fair, roughly two and a half million of us are watching; but on a major network–a network fighting like a caged lion to regain relevancy—two and a half million viewers just isn’t going to cut it for much longer.
Despite the low ratings,creator Bryan Fuller has consistently offered up some of the most profoundly upsetting, yet undeniably beautiful, television filmmaking in the last decade. The events of Hannibal’s first and second seasons are prequels to everything that’s happened in the Hannibal universe, though they take place in the present (one of several delightful retro-fittings that Fuller and company have seamlessly weaved into the show’s canon). Despite the title, Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) is the show’s protagonist. Graham is a genius FBI profiler who is also afflicted with a number of (mostly unspecified) mental illnesses. There’s a poetry to Hannibal’s gore. There’s profundity to Hannibal’s depravity. But most of all, Fuller has turned a (at this point) trite crime-thriller into Hannibal: the most adept, visually adventurous and emotionally mature thing on television.
So I put forth this entirely selfish plea: please, please, please start watching Hannibal. Having spent two years manning NBC’s graveyard shift–Friday nights at ten–Hannibal is making the jump to Thursday where it will either excel or die a horrible death (and in a perverse twist, even if Hannibal is cancelled prematurely after three seasons, it will be Bryan Fuller’s longest running television show ever, beating both Pushing Daisies and Dead Like Me by a full season). And if we’ve learned anything, it’s that we can’t trust NBC to faithfully champion it’s content. Over the last half-decade, NBC has shit the bed, bought several new beds and systematically shit each one of those as well.
I haven’t lost hope that Hannibal can be a transcendent, American-television experience. And neither have the other Fannibals (had to do it once, it won’t happen again). So on behalf of everyone who prays to the ghost of Philo Farnsworth that Fuller gets his six seasons (he’s teased plans for an even richer series, if given the time):
Craig is a writer living in north Florida with his wife and ornery dog. He writes about film and TV. He creates and publishes comic books under the label Gentleman Baby Comics. He's currently wishing his bio sounded more engaging.