Like the Tiber River after Caligula’s been on a weekend bender, television today is flooded with blood. What was once the sole sphere of slasher flicks now has become a common spattering on the small screen, and not just with cable shows such as AMC’s The Walking Dead, HBO’s Game of Thrones and the recently launched Showtime drama Penny Dreadful. Now the networks are in the gore game with Fox’s The Following and Sleepy Hollow and NBC’s Hannibal and Grimm. The proliferation of blood and guts on TV in this era of the explicit proves that the appetite for death and destruction hasn’t jumped the shark so much as stabbed the beast, torn into its flesh, cooked it up and swam among the remains.
Hannibal and True Detective—about serial killers who are the devil personified—as well as House of Cards—about a devilish politician—all embrace lighting and camera work that is cinematic yet subtle, manipulating audiences into the suspense of the moment and helping frame some of the most unforgettable characters on television. House of Cards director of photography Igor Martinovic, who was enlisted for the second season, used lighting to reflect a marked shift in story surrounding the dastardly Francis Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey. “The cynical attitude and a crime story that happened toward the end of season one could be represented through low-key lighting,” Martinovic says. “For season two, we decided to change the lighting completely. We very carefully tried to wrap characters in shadows, into half-lights, turn them into silhouettes, and overall kept them on the edge of darkness.”
The shift owed much to the influence of the Netflix show’s executive producer, Oscar-nominated director David Fincher. “He’s very constant in all of his work,” Martinovic says of Fincher. “It’s this objective camera work where you don’t come too close to the characters. Your camera is objectively—as much as one could do—capturing the situation . . . It was also very appropriate for this because we were telling a political theater. Part of it is the staging, where we try to stage a kind of elaborate mise en scene, …
The ‘Fannibals’, as well as TV Academy members, came out en-masse Wednesday night to Awardsline’s screening of Gaumont International Television‘s Hannibal. While the crowd was armed with fan-made comic books, pictures and gifts for creator/showrunner Bryan Fuller, Hugh Dancy (Will Graham), Caroline Dhavernas (Dr. Alana Bloom) and executive producer Martha De Laurentiis; panel moderator, Deadline’s Dominic Patten, also took the opportunity to geek out by donning Hannibal’s plastic chopping garb.
With Hannibal leaving Will and Alana fatally wounded in the season 2 finale, which screened yesterday, Fuller exclaimed that “There is going to be a painful delay (in season 3) and you won’t find out in the first episode who survives. The first episode focuses on Dr. Bedelia du Maurier (Hannibal’s therapist played by Gillian Anderson).” As far as who survives, “It’s more like episode 2 or 3,” said Fuller.
NBC is putting more Hannibal on the menu. The network has given a third-season pickup to the series, from Bryan Fuller and Gaumont International Television. Based on Thomas Harris’ characters, the gory psychological thriller focuses on the budding relationship between FBI special investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) and Dr. Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen). The pre-upfront renewal is a nice change for the show, which was left hanging last year until after the upfronts before getting a second-season pickup. Hannibal has done OK in the Friday 10 PM slot as part of NBC’s genre block. So far this season, it is averaging a 1.4 in adults 18-49 and 3.6 million viewers in most current ratings after a big DVR boost. Hannibal also is the youngest 10 PM drama on the broadcast networks with a median age of 48.2.
UPDATED: NBC at the upfronts established a genre block on Friday from 9-11 PM with Grimm at 9 PM and Dracula, to be followed by pirate drama Crossbones in midseason. The network is keeping the block’s theme, but has now slotted Hannibal to succeed Dracula in the 10 PM time slot in midseason. (Hannibal’s first season aired on Thursday.) The 13-episode second season of Hannibal will debut after the Winter Olympics on February 28. There is no scheduling decision yet on Crossbones. From creator Bryan Fuller, Hannibal stars Mads Mikkelsen as brilliant psychiatrist Dr. Hannibal Lector, who is working with the FBI and gifted criminal profiler Will Graham, played by Hugh Dancy, to look into the mind of serial killers.
Halle Berry is set to executive produce Hannibal (working title), a miniseries about the great generals in antiquity — Hannibal Barca and his archrival Scipio Africanus — who went head-to-head in the Second Punic War. Oscar-nominated writer Jeffrey Caine (The Constant Gardener) is penning the script for the project, co-produced by A+E Studios and Red Arrow Entertainment. “Hannibal was not only the greatest African general to ever live, he may have been the greatest general, period,” said Berry. “His story is an intricate and captivating ride, and I’m thrilled to get this project off the ground with our partners at History.”
EXCLUSIVE: On the heels of getting renewals for its series Hannibal on NBC and Hemlock Grove on Netflix, Gaumont International Television has signed a deal with Fox Broadcasting Co. Under the agreement, Gaumont and Fox will jointly develop two drama projects with at least one of them guaranteed to receive a 13-episode, straight-to-series order. The pact reunites GIT CEO Katie O’Connell with Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly, who appointed her as head of drama at NBC seven years ago, and with Fox’s head of drama Terence Carter, who was member of O’Connell’s team at NBC.
NBC‘s Hannibal ended its rookie season on a cliffhanger with FBI investigator Will Graham (Hugh Dancy) on the wrong side of the bars, accused of murder. Exec producer Bryan Fuller revealed Thursday at Comic-Con that the crime series’ second season will return in a two-parter followed by a trial in Episode 3. “We have the season arc crafted, and it’s a doozy,” Fuller teased to a packed ballroom. “We just finished breaking Episode 3, and we are breaking Episode 4 now.” The Season 2 openers will act as a pseudo pilot, Fuller said, reintroducing characters who now find themselves in much different places. “Will knows something no one else knows, and it’s a great place to put a character,” Fuller said. “One of the things I was most excited about in Season 2 was seeing Will Graham hit rock bottom.”
Related: ‘Dexter’ Says Goodbye To Comic-Con
Fans were out in full force to support the series, which wrapped its freshman season down in the ratings. In its first Comic-Con showing since debuting in April (Hannibal had a pre-premiere appearance last year), the show had fans in full Hannibal cosplay turn up at the panel. Star Dancy joined Fuller, exec producer and series director David Slade, and producer Martha De Laurentiis onstage for a panel chat following a gory “amuse bouche” highlights reel. The recap was a reminder of how Hannibal routinely depicts some of the most extreme graphic kills on broadcast TV. Fuller says network suits rarely object. Except on the Season 1 episode “Coquilles,” in which a killer mutilates his victims into angels to watch over him in his sleep. “We had two people who were nude and we saw their buttocks,” Fuller said. “They were dead, they were flayed open, and cracked in many ways. Their butt crack was the least offensive of the ones they were sporting, [but] the network said no. … I asked why, because of the exposed spine and muscle tissue and flayed skin? I said, ‘What if we fill the butt cracks with blood so you can’t see them?’ They said OK.”