Bryan Fuller Planning Seven Season Arc for ‘Hannibal’ Series

Published 2 years ago by , Updated May 26th, 2012 at 6:58 am,

hannibal tv series bryan fuller Bryan Fuller Planning Seven Season Arc for Hannibal Series

Although Bryan Fuller’s previous TV creations (Dead Like Me, Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies) earned more than their fair share of critical accolades, that didn’t translate into a long shelf life – as only two of that trio even managed to secure a second season. Clearly, Fuller is banking on that not being the case with his next television production: a series based around the infamous Dr. Hannibal Lecter (simply called Hannibal).

Fuller is planning to tell the tale of how Dr. Lecter went from being a respected psychiatrist with a penchant for understanding the psychotic mind – to being exposed as an insane, cannibalistic killer – over the course of some seven seasons, beginning with Lecter’s time spent solving crimes with his eventual captor, FBI profiler Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).

Here is how Fuller says Hannibal will approach the troublingly sordid story of its namesake (via EW):

“[The show begins] before he was incarcerated, so [Lecter is] more of a peacock. There is a cheery disposition to our Hannibal. He’s not being telegraphed as a villain. If the audience didn’t know who he was, they wouldn’t see him coming. What we have is Alfred Hitchcock’s principle of suspense — show the audience the bomb under the table and let them sweat when it’s going to go boom. So the audience knows who Hannibal is so we don’t have to overplay his villainy. We get to subvert his legacy and give the audience twists and turns.”

On the topic of how the Hannibal series will play out, over the course of its first few seasons:

“It really is a love story, for lack of a better description, between these two characters. As Hannibal has said [to Graham] in a couple of the movies, ‘You’re a lot more like me than you realize.’ We’ll get to the bottom of exactly what that means over the course of the first two seasons. But we’re taking our sweet precious time.”

Each season of Hannibal is also being planned as 13 episodes, more along the lines of your average cable TV series (Mad Men, The Walking Dead) than the customary 20 episode + length for network television. The logic behind such a move is that it will “trim the fat” – cannibal pun not intended – so that Fuller’s pitched show arc unfolds over the course of seven, plot-driven seasons, with very little in the way of “filler” episodes.

As was brought up already, working against Fuller’s plans for a long-running Hannibal series is his own track record of producing short-lived TV works. Not to mention, a seven season arc is a pretty ambitious undertaking. Most shows that carry on that long end up suffering from inconsistencies in quality from season to season (see: Dexter for the most obvious and appropriate example) – while others end up essentially running on fumes by the end of their extended run (The X-Files, looking at you).

Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs Bryan Fuller Planning Seven Season Arc for Hannibal Series

Now, with all that said: it is worth pointing out that Fuller already has a solid outline for seven seasons’ worth of Hannibal material, which should help the show’s narrative proceedings feel better planned – rather than sporadic or almost improvised at times (a la Lost). Similarly, the idea that Hannibal could be a very different show by the end of its run – from the relatively straightforward crime procedural (with bromantic overtones) it will begin as, is pretty intriguing on its own. Another potentially fascinating televised character study, for sure.

Of course, the most important thing for Fuller and Co. to focus on right now is putting together a show that’s good from the very beginning - as opposed to, theoretically, somewhere down the line. The show’s producers have already snagged an excellent director in David Slade to helm the pilot, which is promising. As has been brought up before, we’re mostly just waiting now to see who will be stepping in the (not) good doctor’s shoes – ones which were worn to very memorable effect previously by Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins.

What do you make of Fuller’s plans for Hannibal? Feel free to sound off in the comments section.

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Source: EW

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46 Comments

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  1. While the writing matters, casting the right Hannibal matters too. So Hannibal has not been cast yet?

  2. Ambitious but the 13 episode orders sound great. Wish more network would take this approach.

    As for the man himself I think Jackie Earle Haley would make a great Hannibal.

    • “I think Jackie Earle Haley would make a great Hannibal”

      Fantastic pick.

  3. I always love love love it when writers go into TV with a planned arc for the whole series. A lot of writers are like, “we’ll see, let’s just focus on making a great show right now”, and that definitely works for some, but planning ou the entire series always seems to make it better, in a different way, sort of like how Supernatural was planned out for the first five seasons, and how thematically strong those seasons turned out to be and etc. But yeah. I’m excited even more now.

    • I agree, most shows that are made up along they way, instead of planned from beginning to end, all fall in quality by their 4th season.I don’t know why more people won’t plan ahead.

  4. I wish I could be excited about this but I would have rather seen this in hbo or showtime. The subject matter of Hannibal deserves to be R rated and I don’t want to see it watered down. I don’t need to see gore or blood all the time but it will be nice if the show pushed the boundaries a little bit.

  5. I wish I could be excited about this but I would have rather seen this in hbo or showtime. The subject matter of Hannibal deserves to be R rated and I don’t want to see it watered down.

    • It is interesting how wrong this comment ended up being one year later. The gore is in no way watered down. This show is much more difficult to watch than Showtime’s _Dexter_. The only difference is no breasts or sex, and the show does not seem to be suffering from that loss one bit. Censorship has gone to interesting places. No breasts, but a man’s tongue wagging through his opened neck is totally cool.

  6. Hang on… so Dead Like Me season 2 was in everybody’s imagination? :P

    • Well, dreams do always seem real when we’re in them… ;-)

      Seriously, though, thanks for catching that. It’s been corrected.

  7. I’m thinking the majority is dead on (heh,heh) about where this show needs to be. I’m kind of partial to the 1986 movie that defined the premise for the non reading public.

  8. ive seen all the hannibal lecter films with anthony hopkins, and Hannibal rising. so this sounds interesting to me, but ill wait for trailers and maybe first reviews before i check it out.

  9. 7 seasons? On NBC? Good luck with that.

  10. There’s no way a good Hannibal series will happen on NBC. You simply cannot have Hannibal without blood, gore, and extreme creepiness–something that simply cannot exist on network television.

    • Yeah, if this was Showtime or HBO, it would stand a fighting chance.

      • They might be able to get SOMETHING going a la Supernatural.

        • True, that is a good example or terror and gore on network tv.

  11. Is Thomas Harris involved? So how is there 7 solid seasons of material available when the last published book ended with the good doctor arriving in America? I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt but no Thomas Harris, no Anthony Hopkins and no good “source” material sounds like a concept based on the name Hannibal Lector only.

  12. Hmmmm. Could be Dexter crossed with CSI. Unfortunately it all depends on the casting of Lecter, I just can’t see anyone measuring up to Hopkins charm and menace.

    • I was thinking Dexter crossed with Criminal Minds. Either way, seems they’re slow to do the casting on this series that the network was so quick to order.

  13. no anthony hopkins or edward norton fail!!!!! 7 seasons it wont get pass three episodes

    • Brian Cox and William Petersen made it work. I’ve often enjoyed Cox’s quieter, calculated version of Hannibal as opposed to the – at times – hammy offerings of Mr. Hopkins.

      • ..Coxs’ part was tiny though.,as ”hammy” as Hopkins made Hannibal,maybe would have been equally so if asked to do more in the role.
        Hopkins did however make glory of the scene in ‘Red Dragon’ on the phone to the ‘fed ex’ girl……don’t know if this was in the book or not but found of all this scene most effective.

  14. ”beginning with Lecter’s time spent solving crimes with his eventual captor, FBI profiler Will Graham ” – I started reading ”Red Dragon” last week, the first of the trilogy. Hannibal only started ”helping” Will AFTER he was caught.

    I also noted that the scene in ”Lambs” where Chiltern warns Clarice via a homily about how Lecter attacked a nurse while having a low ECG was nicked from ”Red Dragon”.

    I agree with others – this is not a Peacock show.

    • Graham consulted with Lecter on the case of the cannibal before he realised that it was in fact Lecter, that’s in the book and film, so presumably the show is taking a more extreme stance and suggesting that there were other cases in which he asked for help.

    • Yeah, Sam is right. Graham realized who Hannibal was while consulting him at his office. When he snuck away to use the phone, Lecter took off his shoes, snuck up behind Will and attempted to gut him with a knife.

      • Possibly the best part of the Red Dragon film.

        • Yeah, slightly different in the film, but I agree.

          • I read it that Will, stuck on the cannibal case, followed a very thin line of inquiry as a long shot. This led him to Lecter. He got a few pointers from him, and when he went back in resignation he noticed the volume on Physiolgy. This convinced him that Lecter was the killer, whereupon Lecter, having removed his socks and shoes and opening a door behind him, stabbed him.

            • Touché. I read the book about ten years ago (right before the movie came out, having already read Silence and Hannibal). The film must have subconsciously filled in the wrong blanks. I remember it took some liberties. I definitely remembered that it happened at Lecter’s office in the book and not at his home, like in the movie. Was it still the sweetbreads that rung his bells? I still remember it that way…

  15. NBC= No Blood or Cast. Too bad, Fuller could do great things with the story if given the chance to fully explore the character, something rendered impossible by being on NBC. It won’t make it halfway to seven.

  16. The last book and movie did not meet expectations because there was not an Anthony Hopkins or Jodie Foster or Ed Norton to make people see it…plus I’ve heard the story was just not that good. I think the days of Hannibal Lector being popular are long gone

    • if its done good like the way ‘The Sopranos’ was on hbo then I think it will work.,it will have to translate for all markets too…yes us europeans, and I think a complete unknown to the U.S market should be cast as Lector-say a dishy Italian???? & a famous face for ‘Graham’.I think enough time has passed for an interest to develop but it has to be done very well.,ie;just the one writer/ director/editor…

  17. The fact that Hannibal will be 13 episodes per season has given me some hope for the series. With only a few exceptions I’ve ranted plenty about how I think networks should embrace shorter seasons because you can eliminate the filler episodes.
    But like others have said here already if the writing and cast aren’t good enough it wouldn’t matter how short or long the seasons are.

  18. Having an extended plan for a show seems like a good idea all things considered, but trying this on network television seems like a waste of time. They might give them a bit more leeway then in the past, but if it doesn’t catch on they will cancel it so fast it will break the sound barrier.

  19. I have to agree….If it goes to NBC it might as well not go at all….Someone there will can it before ti gets to the end of the first season….This show defiantely sounds like something for at least AMC or FX, but would be better on one of the pay channels where it doesn’t have to be restricted…..

    NBC is doing the same thing with some other show that seemed too hard core for them….Unless they’re doing some major changes I think these will just get our hopes up for good entertainment just to see them get cancled before they get enough chance to build….As they seem to do a lot…

  20. I approach every television show these days with a nominal amount of skepticism, but the more i think about this one the more i can see it. And yes, while the director is important, it is as important to cast the right Lecter…and no, I can’t see Jackie Earle Haley; his crazy is just a little too ovbious, not quite as refined as Lecter’s is…

    • Julian McMahon maybe…?

      • I agree,could be good.

  21. Might be what NBC needs to compete for once

  22. I wany a second season im so intrigued by this series it doesn’t take away from the three movies that were made it makes them better I always hope for more Hannibal Lecter and I’m getting it now don’t want it to end

  23. I’ve seen a couple episodes, and honestly I’m hoping it goes on for a long time. Love it so much!! (Secretly shipping Hannibal and Will, though o.0)

  24. well it just barely got a second season, most estimates had it cancelled with 4.2 million and a weak 2 share. so if those numbers dont improve then you are wasting your time, i havent watched it. in 8 years if it is ACTUALLY finished, i will watch them all in a timely fashion, but no thank you on a 13 episode-wait 10 months for the next season- more than likely cancelled show!!!!

    • Had you watched it, you would have noticed that the season is like a movie–a self-contained story that stands on its own, not simply a stepping stone on the way to season 7. The story is no more incomplete than the novel “Red Dragon” is incomplete because it doesn’t also contain “Silence of the Lambs” or “Hannibal”. No time has been wasted here.

  25. I really am enjoying this show. It has a very real, gritty and raw feeling that I have not seen on network tv before. I hope it lasts and doesn’t get watered down.

  26. It is a great well made show and I hope to get to see all the 7 seasons.

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