Friday, 21 June 2013

Bryan Fuller outlines HANNIBAL's future

Friday, 21 June 2013
For a show that has such poor ratings (hovering around 2 million for 13 weeks), Bryan Fuller's very optimistic about the NBC show's future. It helps that Hannibal is an international co-production, meaning NBC doesn't have to shoulder all the financial burden, and it's nice to have a show that's a critical hit capable of scooping big awards, with a fervent online presence. (I'm genuinely astonished by how much fan-art and animated .GIFs this show has inspired.)

Indeed, Fuller's so optimistic he's happy to let people know about his very long-term plans for future seasons. In a recent interview, Fuller also mentioned that an online streaming company approached him about continuing Hannibal if NBC were foolish enough to axe it, so I'm hopeful Fuller's seven-season plan will come to pass. This is Bryan Fuller's design:

Warning: the following quote contains spoilers for Thomas Harris's books:
"Well, when you get into season four, you get into the literature. And so season 4 would be Red Dragon, season 5 would be the Silence of the Lambs era, season 6 would be the Hannibal era, and then season 7 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-novelised 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."
It's exciting to imagine the possibilities of Hannibal's future, if Bryan Fuller gets the chance to pull this ambitious storyline off. I can't wait to see his interpretation of FBI Agent Clarice Starling, in particular. Who could they possibly cast to make audiences forget Oscar-winner Jodie Foster's most iconic role? Clarice is arguably trickier to recast than Lecter and Graham. I'm also intrigued to see a version of Silence of the Lambs that somehow includes Graham, as it would be unreasonable to make Hugh Dancy sit out a season or two.

However, there's one problem I have with Bryan Fuller's masterplan: we already know the stories behind Red Dragon (season 4), Silence of the Lambs (season 5), and Hannibal (season 6). Part of the reason Hannibal has been a big success with fans is because it's a prequel that's fleshing out a storyline that was only briefly mentioned by author Thomas Harris. Most of season 1 (and seasons 2 and 3, one assumes) are telling chapters from Lecter and Graham's lives that fans don't know much about... so it's inherently interesting and, broadly, unpredictable.

Once Fuller starts remaking the plots of the existing movies in the medium of weekly television, surprising the audience will be much tougher. Maybe fans will simply take pleasure in seeing a familiar story told with new actors, but I suspect Fuller will simply have to change aspects of the plot to prevent apathy setting in over a three-season 'literary remake' phase. Or perhaps mix in different storylines and characters, so fans can enjoy spotting the TV version's differences and improvements—echoing how Game of Thrones operates.

Indeed, Game of Thrones proves a long-running TV drama can be made from a book where readers aren't surprised by 90% of what's happening, so Hannibal will most likely be fine. Then again, far more people know the pre-existing Hannibal Lecter saga than have ever read George R.R Martin's work...

I'll leave you with this Hannibal mash-up with Arrested Development, which made me laugh last night: