On June 22nd, NBC announced that they would not be renewing Bryan Fuller’s Hannibal; the show which provided a new take on the characters originating in Thomas Harris’ Red Dragon novels and subsequently seen in several big screen adaptations. Critically acclaimed and despite a cult following, dwindling viewership figures led to the decision to axe the show. Though hope remains that the show may be able to continue through other avenues, here The Edge look back at some of the things that made Hannibal as mouthwateringly wonderful as it was.
The twisted love story between Hannibal and Will
For all the things that made Hannibal great, it was arguably the two men at the centre of it all that really made this show come alive – even if they did spend most of their time killing people. Taking on a role as iconic and complicated as Dr. Hannibal Lecter is no mean feat, but somehow Mads Mikklesen owned it. With his already killer cheekbones and an accent that just screams exotic sophistication, Mikklesen made an incredibly admirable turn as Lecter – almost on par with that of Anthony Hopkins’ classic portrayal. Suave, charming and genuinely psychotic, the Danish actor excelled as the titular lead. But just as a Holmes needs a Watson, Mikkelsen’s Lecter needed a good-guy adversary – and British actor Hugh Dancy similarly did not disappoint in his role as Special FBI Agent, Will Graham. In possibly the most nuanced and psychological incarnation of the character, Dancy made a huge impact as this outsider with a brilliant, empathetic mind and a simply adorable kinship with dogs.
The way both actors so forcefully command their scenes is amazing – and it’s no surprise that so many fans ‘ship’ the two characters – their shared chemistry is quite simply intoxicating. The undoubtedly homoerotic relationship between Hannibal and Will has been one of the most interesting arcs of the show’s entire run – and while I sincerely hope the show will continue in some way – I’m going to miss these two. Not just because they’re both very easy on the eyes, but also because the actors genuinely gave two of the most underrated television performances in recent times.
Words by Anneka Honeyball
The Leading Ladies
Shows featuring male leads – particularly those as charismatic and commanding as Mads Mikkelsen – sometimes fall victim to filling their B cast with female characters in a fairly obvious attempt for diversity that consequently often falls partly or entirely flat. Sorry, Sherlock or Supernatural; you’re guilty of this. On the other hand, Hannibal never has been. The show boasted a brilliant range of female characters and talented actresses, representing a diversity of races and backgrounds. While – spoiler – some are killed or could be accused of being ‘flawed’ in stereotypically female ways (read: crying, being in love), when your cast is rich enough in women a single character need not represent her entire gender. Some can fall apart while others hold things together, and the stakes are high because you know the female characters you like are just as at risk as the men since there’s no need for the producers to preserve the single woman on the cast (hello, basically every drama or action film until Mad Max: Fury Road). Particularly praiseworthy was Abigail Hobbs (Kacey Rohl), who was broken and troubled enough to earn our pity, while still being sufficiently mysterious to deserve suspicion. In her, as in the rest of the ladies of the cast, were fleshed out female characters without whom the men in charge would have struggled to impress.
Words by Camilla Cassidy
Bryan Fuller is quite simply a trooper who, if nothing else, has my most ardent love and respect. Countless times, has he seen his work – which is almost always brilliant – cast aside far too prematurely by networks. And sadly, his work on Hannibal is no exception – even though he did finally get to a third season! The task of adapting Thomas Harris’ classic novels – which in turn were previously made into an iconic cult film series – sounds dreadfully daunting to the average human. But Fuller took it in his stride and created a show that contains some of the most fascinating character studies ever to be produced on television. Yes, the cinematography is amazing and the performances are brilliant – but neither would have come to the fore without Bryan’s masterful scripting. Hannibal is an extremely well-written show, which blends nerve-wrecking tension with an ironic, if slightly twisted sense of humour. Fuller’s contribution to this show has been immeasurable and it is my belief that he might just be one of the most under-appreciated writers of our time. The Emmys and the Globes might be blind to your brilliance, Bryan -But rest assured, we are not.
Words by Anneka Honeyball
If there’s one thing that cannot be denied about this show, it’s how strong its visual style is. The clever blending of VFX and captivating images instantly made Hannibal a front runner in the new renaissance of TV drama – using every type of camera trickery to brilliantly convey the mood; often without a single word. The lighting uses soft highlights and dark blue/green shadows, establishing a cold, eerie, and unrealistic look at the world that is now surely synonymous with this character. Even when the viewer knows that something isn’t quite right or moral, the cinematography plays with your psyche. Often by kicking into massively colourful montages of cooking or murder, making something that should be depicted as vile and wrong seem almost appetizing. The camera is the show’s greatest asset – never holding back, but keeping the viewer constantly enthralled, waiting for the tension to finally break. That is their design, and we’re going to miss it dearly.
Words by Jack Gracie
Hannibal is a slick, twisted and immeasurably intelligent show; praised for its beautifully composed scenes and impeccable acting. It’s rare for such a compilation of talent and craft to emerge on a TV show, and much rarer for this standard to be upheld and improved upon with each series that comes. The thing I’ll miss most, however, is not Mads Mikkelsen’s jaw-dropping rendition of Hannibal himself, nor the horrifyingly intricate murders and ensuing investigations – not even the aptly and sensitively displayed representations of mental health issues. It will be the food. Every episode contained such scenes; Hannibal laboriously preparing a meal so delicate and refined that it would make my mouth water just to witness the preparation. Okay, it might be human flesh, but that doesn’t mean it can’t look appetizing, right? I mean, the shots of the culinary feats alone were intoxicating enough – but to then be paired with fine music, fine table setting and fine wine? Well it always found me with a growing rumble in my stomach. Maybe it’s a good thing the show is ending, it’s a little disturbing how much I could go for ‘lung’ au vin, or even liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti…
Words by Ashleigh Millman
Nowadays, watching a TV show yourself is only half the fun – the other is sharing it with the rest of the world. While the dedicated fans of any cult show are well known if not a little infamous, the community of ‘Fannibals’ that surrounded Hannibal was second to none. In a frankly wonderful contrast to the macabre and serious tone of the show, Hannibal‘s fandom was fun and irreverent. It was the origin of the flower crown photoshopping trend of the summer before last, which caught on as the fandom’s way of balancing all the tragedy and gore by being silly and light-hearted. That aside, for such a sadly short-lived show, the in jokes were plentiful – “Ah, yes, my psychiatrist, Hax Murderer. He has been helping me profile this axe murderer”. In the end, what made the experience particularly wonderful was the cast and producers’ rapport with the fandom – which eventually saw the whole cast don flower crowns in thanks for everyone’s support – that truly made it such a rewarding show not just to watch, but to be engaged with, and to be a fan of.
Words by Camilla Cassidy