Before we go upside NBC's head for cancelling not only their best TV Show, but one of the best TV Shows on any network, we have to give them some credit. That they ever put a show like Hannibal on the air to begin with, let alone stuck with it through three ratings-poor seasons, is a rare and very ballsy thing for a Broadcast Network to do.
It's a ballsy move because Hannibal is an extremely graphic TV Show. In fact, I've seen R-Rated Horror movies that were less graphic than this show is, and this is Network TV we're talking abut here. Their edgiest content usually falls into the PG-13 category at the very most, and Hannibal follows the model of the average cable drama, most of which usually lean more towards the TV-MA side of the fence.
NBC genuinely deserves a ton of praise and thanks for giving us Hannibal to begin with.
That being said, the fact that NBC has cancelled their best show, makes us livid.
It's not like cancellation hasn't always been lurking in the shadows for Hannibal, because it has. Again, it's amazing that a show like this even made it to air, let alone lasted for three seasons on one of the Big 4. Add to that the fact that it has never been even a moderate ratings draw, and it was always living on borrowed time.
No, the real reason that we're pissed-off about Hannibal's cancellation, aside from the fact that we love everything about it, is that NBC really has nothing to lose by airing it, and here's why:
- Hannibal is produced by Gaumont Intl. TV and Sony TV. They foot the bill, not NBC.
- NBC pays a modest licensing fee to be able to broadcast it in the U.S.
- All they had to do was air it, make enough through advertising to cover that licensing fee, and they could have the biggest critical darling on TV gracing their airwaves.
Now maybe the advertising $$$ truly did dry up, and NBC was losing money on the deal. I doubt that, but I truly have no clue, so it could definitely be the case. Even so, the TV model is changing so rapidly, that I can't wrap my head around how a company like Netflix could spend $100 million on a shit show like Marco Polo, and be fine, but NBC cancels something that they don't even pay to produce, because it's under-performing.
Hannibal is not just a TV Show, it's a work of art. Now I know taste is subjective, but love it or hate it, you can't deny that it's a well-made, unique show, that truly has no visual or aesthetic equal. We can admit that sometimes it feels like it's a bit too far up its own ass, but good lord, the rest of it is so damned good that we don't care. At the very least, it's different and it tries harder than most shows.
We get that most fans don't want deep, artistic, shows that make them think; they like it simple and familiar, and that's what 95% of Network TV is, because that's what sells. I'm not trying to be a dismissive prick here (mostly), but just look at what garners the biggest ratings on TV, especially on the Big 4 Networks; reality garbage; generic, unfunny comedies; different variations on the procedural: Police, Fire, or otherwise (which all have 40 spin-offs); or generic, melodramatic dreck like Grey's Anatomy or Chicago Fire.
George Clooney said it best when he said that "Hollywood aims for the lowest common denominator, because they think the audience is dumb, and they won't get it." Now, that sounds pretty shitty and dismissive, but there's also a lot of truth to it. Simple and familiar sells, and since this business is all about money, what sells is important.
At some point though, quality has to win out. I, as an individual, watch a total of two shows on ABC, NBC, FOX, and CBS; Hannibal and The Blacklist. Now, there are other shows that are "watchable" on the Big Four (not many, but a few), but those are the only two that I absolutely have to tune in and watch each week (and there are times where I can skip The Blacklist and be fine with it.) Most of what I watch comes from cable networks, for two reasons:
- One, because they do drama far, far better than the Broadcast Networks do.
- And two, because with all of the movies that we watch, and we watch A LOT of movies, I don't have time to sit down and watch mediocre fare like The Returned, Resurrection, or The Following (all of which have been cancelled, btw.)
I have to believe that someone like Amazon, or Netflix, or Starz, or SOMEONE will swoop in and give Hannibal a stay of execution. All Bryan Fuller really needs is two more seasons; one to do Silence of the Lambs, and another to wrap up the story of Will & Hannibal, and the show will have had the run that it deserves.
Please let that be the case.
*If you love Hannibal, sound off about it on Twitter and Facebook. Stream the show's first two seasons on Amazon Prime. Buy the Blu-rays of Season One and Season Two. Whatever you do, just be heard!