I yelled to the heavens, and the creator chimed in. The creator of Hannibal, that is.
A few weeks ago I stumbled on a show I’d never bothered to watch. I don’t know why: it contained a lot of the things I like in my television: great actors, good looking visuals, wonderful music and cannibalism. I mean, I chatted to a real cannibal earlier on Webworm. This stuff is my jam.
The show is Hannibal. And it’s unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
I don’t think I’ve ever been this instantly intoxicated with a series before. Not this quickly. Questions plagued my mind: why the fuck hadn’t I watched this before? How did this show get made? How did it ever make it to free-to-air-television? Because Hannibal is by far the most disturbing, graphic and intense series I’ve ever seen.
Okay, so maybe I didn’t stumble on this show. A few months earlier, I’d fallen in love with a film called Another Round. It starred Mads Mikkelsen, a man I’ve now become besotted with. I’d seen him in films before — hell, he’s in Star Wars and James Bond — but I’d never been transfixed. Thanks to Another Round, now I was. I mean, watch this short documentary about the man and tell me you aren’t too:
So I had Mads on the mind, and then suddenly I saw him on my Netflix recommended list, starring in Hannibal. And I watched it. The show I found had me transfixed. It’s a combination of things, and they all come together to make one of the most extraordinary viewing experiences I’ve ever had.
For one thing — the cast is to die for. Mads Mikkelsen is camp, beautiful and basically having a (very dark) laugh. Hugh Dancy is hot and horny. Gillian Anderson is utter class. Laurence Fishburne is being deadly serious. Tao Okamoto strides around like a fashion icon / marksman. Lance Henriksen shows up just being depressed old Lance Henriksen.
I am not going to go into the story — it’s best experienced without me weighing in. But let’s just say it involves an ongoing array of increasingly brutal and disturbing set pieces that I will never get out of my head. This is a show about killers, and what they do. When it starts, it’s easy to think this is going to be a monster-of-the-week type show: Mulder and Scully solving crimes. But it quickly proves it’s reaching far beyond that, and the places it goes: well, I’m just speechless.
I watched this on Netflix — but its original three season run (it got cancelled) took place on free-to-air television, airing on NBC from April 4, 2013.
I do not understand how this level of gore made it onto NBC. It’s a Christmas miracle. I wish I could post some screenshots to convey what I am talking about, but all of them would be spoilers.
Underpinning the visual majesty of the whole thing is the powerful and psychedelic score by Brian Reitzell. Music is ever-present in Hannibal — it’s its own character:
“I think it’s really good to just kinda turn the lights down — I mean, in the dark it’s the best, because it’ll really come at you. You shouldn’t listen to it while driving.”
I don’t think I can sum it up much better than what I tweeted about it over the weekend, as I was embarking on the third season at about 2 in the morning:
It quickly became apparent that I am not the only person obsessed with Hannibal - and the comments under my tweet are just a love letter to this wonderful show:
Dude! I literally just got through the three seasons like a week ago. And was upset with myself for not watching it sooner. It’s a masterpiece. And it only gets better as you go.
Aside from Twin Peaks, I think it’s the most beautiful piece of artistic expression to ever air on TV.
It makes me so happy to see people watching and falling in love with the show for the first time. It changed my life in so many strange, unexpected ways... I met half my friends, my roommate; I started painting again; I got my first writing gig—all because of Hannibal.
People went on to share their Hannibal art. Heather Hargroves told me this piece was inspired by the season two finale, “Mizumono”:
Other fans got Hannibal tattoos. These pieces are embedded on Twitter user RegretaGarbo’s body. I asked them it it was okay to share, and they said “okay” - noting “my tattooer is the slowest tattooer on the planet so that took two four hour sessions. but I don’t mind because it’s perfect!”
About 100 replies deep, someone pointed out that Chuck Tingle had also been tweeting about Hannibal over the weekend. If you don’t know Chuck, he’s the mystery writer behind a series of hilarious gay erotic short stories. Chuck’s Wikipedia has one of the most bizarre entries you’ll read:
The stories take the form of monster erotica, featuring romantic and sexual encounters with dinosaurs, imaginary creatures, anthropomorphized inanimate objects, and even abstract concepts. He self-publishes his works through Amazon.com, primarily as ebooks, but also as paperbacks and audiobooks. He and his short story Space Raptor Butt Invasion have each been a finalist for Hugo Awards, the result of coordinated campaigns which he has disavowed.
Yeah — Chuck Tingle, everyone:
Anyway, Chuck had been on Twitter talking about another incredible aspect to Hannibal: what the show does in regards to sexuality and non-neurotypical persons.
In a series of tweets, Chuck renamed Hannibal as “I WANT TO KISS YOU ALSO PROBABLY EAT YOU: THAT HANDSOME MADS STORY”. His tweets are written in his twitter-style — so you may find this thoughts hard to interpret if you are not used to his style. Anyway, here goes:
finished watching show I WANT TO KISS YOU ALSO PROBABLY EAT YOU: THAT HANDSOME MADS STORY and it was a lot scarier than most ways that i have watched but dang was it good and made me think: whoa, handsome. also whoa, just dang kiss already. TWO STARS WAY UP.
liked how I WANT TO KISS YOU ALSO PROBABLY EAT YOU (hannibals way) had bisexual buckaroo characters who were hinted at in early days and instead of just making this a tease without commiting show said 'yes this is explicitly true' wish more shows would do this representation
very common for shows to say 'will they wont they' and will leave clues of a queer way (maybe to hook one kind of fan base) but then refuse to say it completely of fear they will alienate another side. HANNIBALS WAY says, 'nope this is actually a queer way' and i applaud
also very common for bisexual man characters to be shown as 'confused' instead of just openly and proudly bisexual this almost NEVER happens for buckaroos and hannibals way never made question of sexuality part of the confusion (confusion was in actual content of each character)
ovbious final hannibals thought is DR GILLIGANS, HANDSOME WILL and HANDSOME MADS. this is a buckaroo fantasy for the ages that we all know. makes me say an official: DANG
Needless to say, I am a Chuck Tingle fan — so when someone looped us in over Twitter I was delighted. We both were!
I thought I was at maximum bliss levels in regards to my online Hannibal discussion, but then things got even better.
Vincenzo Natali is the American-Canadian director who back in 1997 made one of my favourite sci-fi/thriller/horror films Cube. He’s done a lot of other stuff since then, including directing a bunch of Hannibal episodes.
Well, soon after that tweet… Fuller himself chimed in. Please realise at this point I am just sitting on the couch grinning like the cat that got the cream.
By now the thread was popping off and me, other fans and the show’s creators were all having a lovely time. Twitter can be one of the most toxic, awful places on the internet. But at this moment, it was fucking beautiful. A fan called Alex then chimed in, asking Bryan “On a scale from 1-10 how likely is it we'll EVER get more Hannibal? pls the people are waiting (i'm people)”
And he replied:
For the record, @neoprod is Martha De Laurentiis. She’s the producer behind the Hannibal and Red Dragon films (based on Thomas Harris’ novels), as well as the TV series Hannibal. She’s a powerhouse of a human.
So yeah — according to Bryan, he, Martha the cast and the crew are all eager to make more Hannibal. They just need to find a home.
This isn’t the first time he’s said that he is ready to make more Hannibal. But this is the first time he’s said it to me in ALL CAPS.
If four hours of Justice League is going to be picked up by HBO, I have no idea why they are not leaping on this show. Maybe the rights are held up with NBC. Maybe it’s just too gory for 2021. Maybe there are some weird Hollywood machinations we don’t know about.
But I will just say this, as I approach the end of the final season of Hannibal: I am ready.
PS: if you want to share this, it’s webworm.co/p/hannibal
PS: And if it’s a question of cost — Hannibal was actually made for a lot less than you’d expect, going on the beauty you see on screen. I urge you to head over to The Kingcast podcast and listen director Vincenzo Natali talk about Hannibal’s bonkers turn-around times — and what they achieved with (relatively) very little money.
And actually, while you’re on Kingcast, listen to the Bryan Fuller episodes too: he has an incredible queer reading of Stephen King’s Christine that made me see that book in an entirely new light.