For pushing graphic gore into every living room in America – and rating it appropriate for children – NBC’s Hannibal (Saturdays, 10 p.m. ET) is the Worst TV Show of the Week.
Out of an apparent infatuation with serial killers and gruesome, gory murders, when he took over as Chairman of NBC, Robert Greenblatt ordered a series based on Hannibal “the Cannibal” Lecter, a murderer popularized in the 1991 movie The Silence of the Lambs. It is no surprise that a series glorifying horrific bloodshed and making a hero out of a psychotic murderer was the first thing Greenblatt thought of; after all, previous to his appointment as NBC honcho, Greenblatt was a producer on Showtime’s Dexter, a series about the exact same thing.
What is surprising is that Greenblatt assumed that what was successful in a theatrical movie (which people have to leave their houses, drive miles to a theater, and pay to see) or on a premium cable network (which people have to deliberately subscribe to and pay an extra fee for) would be successful, or even welcome, on the publicly-owned broadcast airwaves. That he DID think this demonstrates only that those in Hollywood have absolutely no regard for, or knowledge of, the millions of people with whom they share this country. Instead, the self-proclaimed “enlightened” elite push their own preferred brand of depraved programming on everyone in the country, and viewers have no choice but to accept it.
Actually, that’s not wholly true. Viewers can always choose not to watch a given program. And, in the case of Hannibal, millions did, with the result that NBC chose not to renew the sick show. Sadly, however, the network is using the dog days of summer to “burn off” the remaining episodes nobody wants to watch, using them to fill a Saturday evening timeslot with NBC’s other serial killer program, Aquarius (that one devoted to real-life killer Charles Manson). While its true that few people watch TV on Saturday nights in summer, a major broadcast network definitely should exercise more responsibility than to rate a graphic murder drama TV-14, appropriate for kids.
But instead, the network used the public airwaves to show viewers yet more scenes of FBI detective Will Graham envisioning the graphic murders committed by serial killer Francis Dolarhyde – and enlisting the help of Hannibal Lecter to assist with the killer’s profile.
Fans of the show – and there are a few – insist that it is the program’s brilliant, deep psychological underpinnings which inspire their praise. But such alleged insights are more than offset by the ultra-grisly scenes of mayhem and murder which surround them. For example:
• In a flashback, Hannibal inserts a needle into Abigail’s arm, then collects her blood in a jar. Later, he shows her how to work a makeshift hose that sprays her blood across the room as though she’s had her throat cut.
• Will talks to Hannibal as they inspect photos of the bloody, mutilated corpses the “Tooth Fairy” killer has left behind. Later, Will imagines the bloody corpse on a bed, blood splattered on a wall, and later himself smothered in blood outside.
• During a flashback, Hannibal holds a knife up to Abigail’s nose as she sits blindfolded. Later, Hannibal reveals her father’s corpse sitting across from her. Abigail slices open the corpse’s neck.
• Francis eats dinner at home as he watches tapes of the mutilated corpses of his victim. During dinner, he experiences jolting flashbacks to committing the murders and mutilations on his victims.
• Will dreams of standing above Mrs. Jacobi’s mutilated corpse, smothered in blood.
Every time one of the media’s so-called “critics” praises a program like Hannibal, it tempts one to reflect: if a program featuring so much horror and gore is “deep,” how much deeper would a program be if it didn’t constantly shock and disgust viewers with such content?
Yes, yes, we know: “real life is violent, and the show’s just reflecting that.” But it isn’t. The overwhelming majority of people will go through their entire lives without encountering a serial killer, or seeing the kind of horrific violence showcased in such programs…and their lives are as important, and contain just as many deep insights as do those of a depraved axe murderer. Those who claim that they watch such programming for “insight” should recognize: it is harder to see things in the dark than in the light.
For pushing graphic violence over the public airwaves, NBC’s Hannibal is the Worst TV Show of the Week.