One of last year’s biggest hits returns for a second season at the end of February. Hannibal, which won both critical praise and praise from audiences, brings viewers back to the world of tortured FBI profiler Will Graham and brilliant but deadly serial killer Dr. Hannibal Lecter. The characters in the show were familiar to audiences already because they are featured in books and movies that feature Dr. Lecter. Red Dragon, The Silence of the Lambs, and the film Hannibal directed by Ridley Scott all center around the mad cannibal Dr. Lecter. Dr. Lecter was originally created by novelist Thomas Harris, whose books have been used as the inspiration for both the films and the Hannibal TV series. Dr. Hannibal Lecter is one of the most popular fictional serial killers of all time, because of his intellect, cunning and his peculiar morality which governs all of his actions. His twisted morality even dictates who he will kill, since he only kills people that he thinks have offended him or have acted badly.
Crime dramas, particularly those about serial killers, do very well with network audiences so it’s not a huge surprise that NBC picked up a trial run of 13 episodes of Hannibal last year. Thanks to innovative storytelling and great casting audiences and critics alike embraced the show after only a few episodes. Hannibal was quickly picked up for a second season, which premiers in late February.
Part of the appeal of the Hannibal TV show is the growing relationship between Will Graham and Hannibal Lecter. Will doesn’t know that Lecter is a serial killer but he knows that Lecter is one of only a few people who can understand the darkness that Will can tap into when he profiles. His talent is his ability to get inside the mind of killers and use his understanding of their mental state to catch them. But that is also his curse and it’s slowly driving him over the edge of sanity. His sessions with Dr. Lecter are horrifying to the audience because the audience knows what Will doesn’t know: that Dr. Lecter is one of the killers that Will is hunting.
TV audiences are fascinated by serial killers and crime shows, which made Hannibal a safe bet for NBC. Over the last few years NBC has floundered a little with scripted programing and it needed the infusion of some new scripted shows to revive the network. Hannibal and a couple of other hits helped shore up the network and bring it back to life in the ratings. NBC is hanging on to the perennially popular Law and Order: Special Victims Unit as well. Together Law and Order: SVU and Hannibal are a good match for other popular shows like NCIS.
All of the major networks are reeling from the blows delivered by ratings powerhouse The Walking Dead on AMC. When The Walking Dead was first being developed the major networks were given the option to take a chance on the show but they all passed. Their executives and programming experts thought that the dark zombie apocalypse drama would be too much for network audiences. No one was more surprised than they were when The Walking Dead became the most popular TV show in history. Now all of the major networks are scrambling to develop their own dark dramas to cash in on the success of dark TV shows.
Hannibal is a solid effort that has good storylines and interesting characters. If the show continues along the path that it started with the freshman season it should become a staple on the NBC schedule. Audiences who have embraced Will Graham and are fascinated by Dr. Lecter are anxiously awaiting the return of the characters to see what happens to them in the new season. Producers have promised that in Hannibal Season 2 Dr. Lecter’s fascination with Graham is going to grow into a full blow obsession, which will lead to a lot of complications as Will continues to hunt a killer without knowing he’s hunting Lecter. The complicated dynamic between them will continue to unfold and audiences will go along with Will as he discovered the depths of his gift.