Amidst a week of horrifying tragedy, from the Boston Marathon bombings to the West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion, NBC has decided to pull episode 4 of new serial killer drama “Hannibal” from its schedule over concern about its violent content.
Despite being “Dexter”-lite, episode four still featured a storyline that included children murdering other children, according to Variety. They get brainwashed to do so by a character played by former “Saturday Night Live” star Molly Shannon.
The network plans to skip straight to episode five this week, Variety reports, but they say that there won’t be any continuity issues. This also moves the season finale up a week.
The show’s creator, Bryan Fuller, called NBC and raised concerns, saying, “Given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn’t air the episode in its entirety,” according to Variety.
“With this episode, it wasn’t about the graphic imagery or violence,” Fuller told Variety. “It was the associations that came with the subject matter that I felt would inhibit the enjoyment of the overall episode. … It was my own sensitivity.”
Fuller cited both the Boston Marathon bombings and the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in Newtown, Conn., as part of the decision, according to the Associated Press, though the episode was filmed before those shootings took place and the decision to pull the episode was made prior to the Boston Marathon bombings, according to NBC.
"The decision was made prior to the Boston bombings," NBC spokesperson Tom Tanno told KPCC. "Bryan Fuller reached out to the network prior citing sensitivities to the current climate in the country — going back to the Connecticut school shootings."
Tanno added, "Ironically, the network made the schedule change on the morning of the Boston tragedy."
The show is still planning on making clips from the show available online as a webisode, but with the primary storyline cut, focusing instead on the characters. Fuller will provide voiceover. The show will also run in full overseas.
Here's how the episode, "Ceuf," was described in an NBC press release:
WILL MAKES A CHILLING DISCOVERY ABOUT CHILDREN AND HANNIBAL GOES AGAINST A DOCTOR’S ADVICE – A string of family murders takes place and Will (Hugh Dancy) determines they were conducted by each of the families’ missing children, who were abducted and brainwashed into killing their old families for their sinister “new family.” Against Alana’s (Caroline Dhavernas) recommendation, Hannibal (Mads Mikkelson) checks Abigail (Kacey Rohl) out of the hospital for some frightening psychiatric practices that ultimately align her loyalty with him. Molly Shannon and Gina Torres guest star.
This isn’t the only effect on the TV lineup due to recent violence:
- ABC bumped an episode of “Castle” in which one of the lead characters steps on a pressure-sensitive bomb.
- Syfy pulled a recent episode of “Haven” that included school violence.
- TLC delayed the show “Best Funeral Ever.”
- Both "Family Guy” and “American Dad” had episodes pulled.
“Family Guy” also had an episode that had previously run in which the lead character, Peter, mows down some Boston Marathon runners in his car indefinitely pulled from being shown again thanks to this week’s violence.
Despite all of this, KPCC has confirmed that VH1 is still scheduled to air brand new episode of “Best Week Ever.” From a post that went up Thursday afternoon:
“Well, gang, it’s been a long, exciting, and historic week full of double nip slips and CNN getting things wrong, but who is having the Best Week Ever? Never you fear, because Best Week Ever is back this Friday April 19, at 10/9 C.”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated which episode was being pulled.