Bryan Fuller's Seven Season Plan for "Hannibal"
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Bryan Fuller's Seven Season Plan for "Hannibal"

By Steven Lloyd Wilson | Trade News | June 20, 2013 | Comments ()


Hannibal” is one of the best shows on television. It’s also one of the lowest rated to survive on a network. We’ve been here before, and know where it generally ends. But then “Community” somehow got another season from NBC too, so who knows how this industry works at this point. There have been some calls for one of the cable networks to step in, maybe HBO in some sort of dream world, to give the show a home where it would fit more.

It seems that Bryan Fuller is not satisfied with getting another season for wrap up. He’s giving interviews and going for the big claims to light up interest in audiences and new networks alike:

“Well, when you get into season four, you get into the literature. And so season four would be Red Dragon, Season Five would be the Silence of the Lambs era, season six would be the Hannibal era, and then Season Seven would be a resolve to the ending of that book. Hannibal ends on a cliffhanger. Hannibal Lecter has bonded with Clarice Starling and brainwashed her and they are now quasi-lovers and off as fugitives, and so that’s a cliffhanger. It might be interesting to resolve that in some way and to bring Will Graham back into the picture. So once we get two more seasons, say, of the television show, those are the aren’t-novelized stories, and then we would get into expansions of the novels after that and kind of using the novels as a backbone for season arcs that would then be kind of enhanced…

[I]t would be about incorporating [Will] in a way that he hasn’t been incorporated in the books, because Will Graham was only mentioned in Silence of the Lambs, he was not seen, and so I would be curious to see what happens to Will Graham after Red Dragon. By the time of Red Dragon, he’s married to Molly and has her son from a previous marriage, but doesn’t have any children of his own. And then that relationship is more complicated by Francis Dolarhyde and there were suggestions that there was a not-so-happy ending for Will Graham after Red Dragon because he has his face carved up and you wonder what’s going to happen to Will now, and I’m curious to see what happens to Will after that.”

Seven years? Even Stalin only made his plans five years at a time, and he had nukes.

I don’t know how I feel about having it laid out like this either. I have been enamored by the uniqueness of Fuller’s approach, and hesitate to see it pinned up on a wall with the blueprints of a series of books and movies that I didn’t particularly enjoy. But then, that’s what I said before the series started, so for now at least, in Fuller I trust.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • Uriah_Creep

    I'll be bitterly disappointed if Pajiba does not have a weekly Hannibal recap/discussion next season.

  • ed newman

    I think I repressed the Hannibal movie so I don't remember how he subverted Starling, and I am glad because it sounds terrible reading about it here.

    I really enjoyed Red Dragon when I read it ages ago, but I don't feel like it was a classic. I never read SotL.

    Fuller's Hannibal has been very good and better than anything else on network TV. I am eager to see how he might remake the novels, especially if he stops after SotL. I am concerned about several aspects though. First, in Red Dragon, Hannibal makes only brief appearances and even in SotL he is anything but a main character, but in TV's "Hannibal" I have to assume Fuller will take a pretty big scoop of creative licence and increase Hannibal's role over those two seasons. Second, Fuller's got to stretch the capture of Hannibal over three more seasons. Both of these issues scare me but like everyone else here I am willing to trust Fuller until he gives me a reason not to.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    I'm personally hoping his seven year plan gets trimmed to five. Five years, and he can take Hannibal out next year, do Red Dragon in the third, SotL in the fourth, and do some kind of Hannibal/post-Hannibal thing in the fifth.

    That's my main concern with the show, really. At 13 episodes a pop, it's not as big a deal as it would be with a normal network episode order, but stretching Will catching Hannibal to a full three seasons is a little sketchy to me. Admittedly, a lot of that depends on how we finish this season, but it's really the biggest thing I worry about. The longer we drag it out, I think the greater the risk Will starts to look stupid, and while he may not be as pervasively intelligent as Hannibal, they are at least peers in the catching serial killers department. That said, at least so far, it's not that Will isn't capable of catching Hannibal, it's that Hannibal is actively disabling Will. But assuming that doesn't continue for another 26 episodes, I'm not sure how we get 26 episodes before Will figures it out.

  • RilesSD

    I've posted this before on another thread, but I think this, from a year ago, is a better arc:

    "In the first season we have this weird bromance between Will and Hannibal, season two is the nasty break up and the third season would have a fugitive angle to it, the fourth season would be 'Red Dragon,' the fifth season would be in the realm of 'Silence Of The Lambs,' the sixth season would be 'Hannibal,'" Fuller says.

    Although, I agree that 5 seasons might be better, with what Fuller has managed to pull off I'll take as much as I can get.

  • e jerry powell

    Yeah. If it works out anything like Daniel Knauf's five year plan for Carnivàle ...

  • freetickles

    So much for the will-they-or-won't-they romance between Will and Dr. Bloom.

  • I love it when a creator has a map and a plan for their work instead of flying by the seat of their pants every time they get a chance for a new addition to their story. I think it really shows in the end product. See the difference between Anita Blake and Harry Dresden.

  • Homestar

    Exactly. Lost is a perfect example of what can happen when no one knows the ending at the start.

  • toblerone

    I thought from the Old Spice call back earlier this season (Coquilles) it was implied Graham had already met and married Molly and they were separated.

  • Jerce

    I had completely forgotten about that, but you are right! Of course, because the series is based on the characters and not the novels/movies, they can go anywhere (or nowhere) with these allusions--as has already been proven several times, most notably with what happened to Jack Crawford's young female protege.

  • alannaofdoom

    I was already a Bryan Fuller fan, but "Hannibal" has cemented it - I will follow him anywhere. Sign me up for seven seasons. Hey, I've got 28 bucks in my wallet, is that enough to buy a network and make sure this happens?

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    Not normally, but if you throw in a ham sandwich I think NBC might take the deal.

  • alannaofdoom

    Well I guess I'm skipping lunch today, then.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    I have full confidence in Fuller pulling this off. For crying out loud, he pulled off the show itself with such aplomb, when no one expected it to be much more than a vehicle for Mikkelsen (like so many other shows).

    "Hannibal" does belong on HBO so well, it would actually be an afterthought if it did move there. And speaking of HBO, I am not enamored with the way they develop shows right now, either: "True Blood" is still heaving its last breaths, when it should have ended at least two seasons ago, and pardon me, GRRM fans, but the constant pacing issues and overblown cast in "Game of Thrones" make me think it's only going to get worse in the following seasons. Maybe "Hannibal" is best left where it is right now. A better PR campaign could bring it the audiences it sorely deserves.

  • Agree.

  • Three_nineteen

    Exactly how good are the books? Because "Hannibal Lecter has bonded with Clarice Starling and brainwashed her and they are now quasi-lovers and off as fugitives" sounds absolutely terrible. But by now I know that I will follow Fuller anywhere he wants to go, so if he does go there I'll be along for the ride.

  • Jerce

    Red Dragon and SotL are two of the most fantastic novels I've ever read (and I'm a voracious reader). Hannibal (in which Clarice Starling is "turned") and Hannibal Rising are...not so much.

    It became apparent to me about halfway through Hannibal that Thomas Harris was deliberately maiming and ruining his own characters--more than one minor-ish but lovable characters died in that book--perhaps because he was tired of writing about them, or perhaps for other reasons (I understand there were some bitter battles over film rights etc.). Whatever his reasons, it was a cruel experience for a reader.

  • RilesSD

    I'm reading Red Dragon now for the first time and it truly is fantastic. It's a great companion piece to the show because even though the events precede the book, Fuller has incorporated a lot of if in the show.

    I found the following quote on wikipedia, which helps to explain why the novels went downhill after SotL (from what i've heard here...i haven't read them yet).

    "Fellow novelist Stephen King has remarked that if writing is sometimes tedious for other authors, to Harris it is like "writhing on the floor in agonies of frustration", because, for Harris, "the very act of writing is a kind of torment".

  • I also loved RD and SotL. Never made it to the other two because I'd heard they went south.

  • emteem

    Personally, I really liked Hannibal (never read Hannibal Rising). The book was named after him and he was our "hero" and like any hero he defeated the bad guy and got the girl... just in twisted Hannibal Lecter ways. I thought it was subversive and interesting.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    There were some things I enjoyed about Hannibal, and I think it's cool where Fuller's coming from because he seems to be talking mostly about the bare bones of that as the story, and a lot of what I hated was sort of the crap where we touched on the Hannibal origin story (which itself then became its own book, but thankfully Fuller isn't going there).

    But on the origin-- please, no. I mean, I'm not one of these people who oppose the idea of the villain origin story, full stop (for example, I believe in the viability of a good Darth Vader origin), but Hannibal? Dude is absolutely one of those monsters who is better when you don't really know why he is how he is, if for no other reason than he is so frightening that whatever his origin it simply cannot be worse than what it created. It's like if Doogie Howser had a prequel season where Doogie was too good for first grade or something. Edifying, perhaps, but what would be the point?

    All of which is a tangent. Give Hannibal a weird, subversive hero season? Yes, sure, I'm almost certain Fuller can make that riveting. But stay away from mentioning how his sister got eaten during a war and how Hannibal likes to play theoretical time travel physicist in his spare time.

  • Jerce

    It was well-written because TH is a brilliant writer; but I thought it was lurid and obvious, and I was really depressed by the time I finished it.

  • Fredo

    That was the climax to the book. Hannibal has Clarice twisted and they share a light snack of human brain (the Ray Liotta scene from Hannibal) before they flee.

    That was part of my apprehension with this series and why I skipped it. I don't want to see another reimagining of those books. Red Dragon has had two (Michael Mann's and Brett Rattner's, which is as big a disparity as you can get) and then Silence and Hannibal each had theirs. Do I want another Clarice Starling? Another Will Graham? Are we going to see more pigs eating a crippled nutcase? At some point, I'd rather a new story.

    I didn't give the series much thought, but I think I'll seek it out when it hits Netflix or Hulu.

  • Pants-are-a-must

    It's not going to hit either; Amazon Prime bought the exclusive streaming rights for it.

    ETA: You could watch it now on Hulu, though, as long as they still hold the rights to it.

  • Long_Pig_Tailor

    For what it's worth, I think that Bryan Fuller is definitely doing a worthwhile reimagining here, not just some kind of money grab because network execs figure Hannibal is easy ratings (and oddly enough, it's not easy ratings anyway). Do you want another Clarice or Will Graham? Maybe not, but if there's any chance at all you do, I think Bryan Fuller is the best guy to give it to you.

  • It's true! Bryan Fuller has created a sumptuous and beautifully eerie world in Hannibal. The imagery is so gruesome and gorgeous and sometimes I'm a little surprised what they get away with. It's definitely worth a look.

  • stryker1121

    Interesting...pretty much have ignored Hannibal because I trust network TV to handle material like this as far as I can throw em.

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