Saturday, April 27, 2013

How will NBC's unaired "Hannibal" episode affect the show's reputation?

     Hugh Dancy as Will Graham on "Hannibal".
     Photo Credit: NBC

Early last Monday (April 15), Bryan Fuller, the creator of the dark, disturbing, and excellent new series "Hannibal," approached NBC with a request not to air an upcoming episode of the series, which focuses on FBI profiler Will Graham and his experiences with a pre-imprisoned Dr. Hannibal Lecter from Thomas Harris' series of books and their film adaptations. The episode, entitled "Ceuf," features Molly Shannon playing a disturbed mother (who has lost her own child) kidnapping kids and then brainwashing them into murdering their families.

Most of "Hannibal's" 13 episode order was filmed last year, before the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December. In light of the tragedy, Fuller was rightfully uncomfortable with the episode's "kids murdering other kids" subject matter and NBC agreed to skip over the episode. The announcement of the episode's removal from the North American market came last Thursday (April 18), and many sources initially reported (wrongly) that the Boston bombings last week were responsible for the shuffling. Most of these reports were later corrected, and NBC prepared to skip to episode five.

Small problem: while "Hannibal" does contain a case of the week (the Molly Shannon side of things), there's an ongoing arc involving the case from the pilot episode and how it has affected the main characters. Particularly, the unaired episode contains a good deal of development in the relationship between Hannibal Lecter and Abigail Hobbs, the victim of the pilot's antagonist. When critics were sent episodes to review earlier this month, they were sent episodes 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6, and in watching the "Previously on Hannibal" segment realized they had missed these developments from episode four. To help eliminate confusion, Fuller "cannibalized" the episode (haha, because you see, Hannibal Lecter...never mind) into six short webisodes, running in total for about 22 minutes. This way, fans could follow along with the arc in future episodes but not have to see whatever disturbing violent images (that were actually probably topped in episode five) from the case of the week.

While the episode has been eliminated from the U.S. and Canadian rotation, the full episode will still air overseas. AXN, a Sony-owned channel that holds the broadcast rights to the show in parts of Asia, aired the uncensored version of "Ceuf" earlier tonight in India and the rest of the continent is expected to see the episode on Tuesday. And because it's 2013, that means it won't be too long before the full version makes its way online.

Confused? You won't be after this week's episode of..."Hannibal!" (Actually, you might still be very confused. I wouldn't blame you.)

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Catchup: 15-year-old Claire Danes stands out in the occasionally flat "My So-Called Life"

     Cast of "My So-Called Life," from L-R: Jared Leto, A.J.
     Langer, Wilson Cruz, Lisa Wilhoit, Devon Odessa, Claire
     Danes, and Devon Gummersall. Not pictured: Bess
     Armstrong, Tom Irwin.

The date? July 20, 1995. The location? Hollywood, California, where dreams go to die. The event: the Academy of Television Arts and Science's announcement of the 47th Primetime Emmy nominations. The category: Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series. Round up the usual suspects: Angela Lansbury of "Murder, She Wrote"; Sherry Stringfield of "ER"; Kathy Baker of "Picket Fences"; and Cicely Tyson of "Sweet Justice".

The fifth name on that list? 15-year-old Claire Danes of "My So-Called Life," a low-rated show that had left ABC's airwaves in January after only 19 episodes. By God, did the Emmys just get something right? Was there actually a time when these awards were able to recognize quality and not fall into slumps in which the Outstanding Comedy Series trophy has gone to two shows in the last six years, each winning three in a row?

It happened. It happened as much as "My So-Called Life" being loosely adapted into a German sitcom that aired for six seasons in the early 2000s happened. But more importantly, a pretty great and tragically ignored TV show happened.