According to iHorror.com and a number of other sites, NBC has officially canceled Hannibal, one of the most amazing shows on network television. The show will complete its third and final season, which will wrap up in early September, but after that there will be no more delicacies coming our way.
The first two seasons were some of the best network television I’ve seen in years, and so far the third is on the same level. I’d say they all have shown more depth, more sophistication, greater payoffs, and generally superior storytelling than a lot of cable shows, as well. I’m looking at you, True Detective.
It’s true that Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson delivered solid performances, but I wouldn’t say it was a career-best for either. For Harrelson, that might be The People vs. Larry Flynt, for which he was nominated for an Oscar, or White Men Can’t Jump, which has nineties-nostalgia going for it. As for McConaughey, he actually took home an Oscar for Dallas Buyer’s Club, but I’d say Frailty is a hidden gem of his, and if you want more nostalgia, then Dazed and Confused is right up your alley.
Sure, that six-minute continuous take in episode four was a very impressive technical achievement for television, but it’s not like it hasn’t been done before in film. Way back in 1948, Hitchcock made an 80-minute film, Rope, using only ten-minute takes. Kubrick had his fair share in 1980’s The Shining. Hell, Robert Altman basically made a career out of long takes, and 1992’s The Player opens with an eight-minute shot.
And yes, the writing was pretty good, but let’s not forget that it was based on (plagiarized from) a book.
And honestly, wasn’t the big finale just a little bit of a let-down after all that build-up?
I’m not trying to knock True Detective, but I am trying to put things in perspective.
Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen, Laurence Fishburne, and (a recent addition) Gillian Anderson have knocked it out of the park in every one of the 28 episodes I’ve seen. That’s three-and-a-half times more episodes than True Detective, in case you weren’t counting.
The writing is always phenomenal. Much like Breaking Bad, there hasn’t been a single weak episode so far. The subtleties and nuances make it ideal for re-watching, as you’re sure to always pick up on something new with each viewing. It’s also a great show for binge-watching (yes, it’s on Netflix), as that makes it easier to pick up on some of those subtleties the first time around, not to mention the fact that the show always leaves you (pardon the pun) hungry for more.
The aesthetics of the show alone are enough to put it in a class of its own. With dark, saturated colors dripping off the screen each week, you’re likely to feel your stomach churn with each elaborate crime scene, and rumble during each dinner scene, even though you know what those ingredients are, and that they’re much worse than gluten. Frankly, some of the images are so disturbing (I mean that in the best way possible) that I’m amazed any network agreed to air it in the first place.
Yes, Hannibal is adapted from an author’s work, but that material is taken from three books (possibly four, if Hannibal’s upbringing draws on Hannibal Rising) and has been significantly reworked for the show.
And at the end of season two (I think), when Hannibal finally explains why he made the phone call at the beginning of season one that set all the subsequent events into motion, he only says six simple words, but they are pure writing genius and so revealing of his character that I got chills.
If another network, cable station, or streaming service picks up Hannibal–and maintains the level of quality it has established for over two seasons now–they will have an immediate customer in me.
Otherwise, all I can do is thank the host, show creator Bryan Fuller, and everyone else involved for a feast of dark wonders that I will savor for years.