Hannibal Yet to Rise Here and Still No Deal for House of Cards

Despite tasty reviews and strong sales internationally, TV’s Silence of the Lambs spin-off, Hannibal, has yet to land a NZ broadcaster.

It went to air in the US on Thursday, where the ratings were “soft” — the premiere finished third in the 10pm hour — but an improvement on what NBC had previously screened in the slot.

“The Hannibal rating was NBC’s best result for entertainment programming in the time period since March 15, 2012, and was 60% better than the network’s average this year in the time slot.”

US critics were especially high on the origins-of-a-serial killer drama from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller.

Bon appétit, horror freaks,” quipped Entertainment Weekly while People magazine dubbed it “NBC’s best new drama since forever” and The Hollywood Reporter “shockingly good

“Easily one of the biggest surprises of the season, Hannibal arrives on NBC and manages — for one of the few times in memory — to take what essentially is an overly familiar procedural and make it feel like a cable series.”

Variety has reservations about the pilot but: “Stick with the series through a handful of episodes, though, and it’s clear that showrunner Bryan Fuller has brought a semi-hypnotic quality to this prequel adaptation of Thomas Harris’ Hannibal Lecter character — ungainly and messy, but at times visually arresting, and thanks in large part to the central trio of Mads Mikkelsen, Hugh Dancy and Laurence Fishburne, quite interesting.”

But among Hannibal’s detractors are the New York Times (“fatally slow and pretentious”), the Los Angeles Times (“takes itself so seriously that it’s no fun at all”) and NZ broadcasters.

One of the factors against it being snapped up here is cable-style shows, especially horror, generally don’t rate well on free-to-air.

TV2 trumpeted its acquisition of The Walking Dead but soon consigned it to 10.30, despite the series being a big hit in the US.

And TV One’s The Following has developed one that’s only modest at best.

Another factor is distributor Sony doesn’t have an output pact with the networks and its recent SoHo deal was only for a package of shows.

It’s also renowned for wanting a premium for even niche content in this market, which is why programmes like Hatfields & McCoys and Justified have taken so long to be picked up.

Similarly, there’s still no sign of Sony-distributed Netflix sensation House of Cards screening here.

A June Blu-ray release has been anounced for the US but it won’t turn up on disc in NZ until all broadcast options have been exhausted.

So far there’s been scant interest — and there probably won’t be more unless it can “topple top dramas” at the Emmy Awards in September.

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3 Responses to “Hannibal Yet to Rise Here and Still No Deal for House of Cards”

  1. I thought TV3 would pick this show up considering its NBC deal and it would fit well on Four along with American Horror Story. As for The Walking Dead, I think that show should move to a primetime spot on TVNZ U where it would find a niche audience. It’s sad that we are losing quality shows to Sky and free-to-air is left with crumbs.

  2. Hannibal screens on NBC but as an acquisition rather than a commission and is being distributed internationally by Sony. I agree it is frustrating to see quality shows few and far between on free-to-air TV but the fare that screens on Sky channels like SoHo would wither and die in the ratings — as happened with Man Men, Breaking Bad, Justified, Damages

  3. Well I hope a network picks up Hannibal soon! One can only hope that either MediaWorks or TVNZ launch a high quality drama channel on Freeview where all these shows can have a decent run and without the threat of being pulled.

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