Hannibal has never been a series that was long for this world. The fact that NBC aired three full seasons of this show is almost mind-boggling in its improbability. Now that the show is (probably) done for good, it’s time to pour one out in its honor and give it a proper eulogy.
Hannibal was created and filmed with a level of care that few other — if any — shows on TV could ever dream to match. Every episode was meticulously composed, and every frame helped build that episode’s story. Episodes took their time to get where they were going, which I’m sure alienated a lot of people. But those who stuck with it quickly learned it was one of the best shows on TV for the past three years.
The show was co-funded by NBC and a handful of European distributors. The pieces didn’t line up for a fourth season, and unless the world’s best TV magician (Penn? Teller?) pulls the rabbit to end all rabbits out of his hat, the 39 episodes we got over the show’s three seasons will be all there is.
While sad, it’s also kind of remarkable in how long NBC let it stay on the air. Hannibal is one of the most brutally violent and sexually graphic shows you will EVER see on network TV. There’s violence here that even shows like Game of Thrones haven’t approached, and Hannibal aired (for most of its run) on Thursdays at 10pm. Its craftsmanship was matched only by its audacity.
Hugh Dancy (as Will Graham) and Mads Mikkelsen (Hannibal) were locked in an ongoing chess match, week after week. It was beautiful to watch. Couple their stellar performances with great supporting performances from Caroline Dhavernas, Gillian Anderson, Laurence Fishburne, and more, and this show was not only a masters course in cinematography but also in writing and acting. (Also: Admire the fact that Scully and Morpheus came together for one project. My worlds are colliding!)
Hannibal is the latest in a long line of Bryan Fuller-created shows that were gone too soon. Unlike some of his other shows, though — especially my beloved Dead Like Me — Hannibal’s run feels satisfying. Yes, there were more stories to tell, and I’d watch them for as long as they would be made in some alternate reality that’s better than ours, if only because it has more Hannibal. But the 30 or so hours that tell the story of these 39 episodes are truly spectacular television, and one of the clearest examples of a TV show that’s worth your time. Watch it, soak it in, and pair it with a fine wine. Hannibal would expect nothing less from you.