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I recently began watching Hannibal on NBC, which has been subject to declining ratings since the first episode.  It started with 6.77 million viewers worldwide and dropped to 4.24 million by the 9th episode.  In the USA, it went from 1.8 million viewers for the premier to an eventual .8 million for the season finale (global numbers for the final episode are not yet tallied).  Other shows have been canceled with ratings almost 3x higher.  Furthermore, Hannibal is by Bryan Fuller, notoriously known for making brilliant television shows that get canceled after two seasons, such as the glorious Dead Like Me and the quirky Pushing Daisies.

For Hannibal itself, it is an inspired show, focusing more on a troubled detective, Will Graham, who has Aspergers and relies on Hannibal for help.  The show sits comfortably between Hannibal Rising and Manhunter/Red Dragon, filling a gap in the story.  The intention is to then serialize it into the events of Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and then go beyond.  It’s essentially a CSI show with Hannibal as a logically-placed cog in the machine.  The show dabbles into his story, how he relates to others with mental issues (including killers) and routinely shows him eating human flesh, but it the focal point is obviously Graham and the side stories.  This may not garner immediately high ratings for a show marketing on the titular character, but it seems a wise move for the longevity of the story.  Yes, I want to see Hannibal in full form and focus on him, but it makes sense to give us some time to get used to someone other than Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal as well as slowly getting in tune with this version of the character.

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Since season 2 has been approved to air on the 28th, let’s look at what the show has going for it:

  • Loyal viewers have gotten a chance to digest the dynamic and it’s ready to ramp up
  • Each episode has an interesting crime with virtually no censoring the disturbing implications (it’s more violent than Dexter, yet NBC is willing to air it.  I’d prefer it on a premium channel, but oh well)
  • CBS executives haven’t cancelled it, despite ratings.  They like it and I imagine failing to build a viewership for such a huge license would be a blow.  It isn’t a critical failure, so why accept failure when there’s still a chance ratings will pick up?  NBC isn’t exactly known for high ratings to begin with
  • David Bowie just may be in Season 2
  • Bryan Fuller is one prepared dude.  He has the show mapped out miles ahead of what has been aired.  NCB knows what they’re getting and what people want.  The show’s identity is solid and things have a chance of picking up if that isn’t messed with.

As a whole, I have my doubts any one network will be patient enough to give Hannibal the full 7 seasons Fuller has planned, but I’m hoping Fuller finally gets to see one of his shows go through its natural progression.  It looks like it’ll become a glorious final product if it isn’t cut short.

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