Traditional networks might be grasping tightly to 22-episode seasons for its television lineup, but even those traditions are ones that could fade in the near future.
In fact, even shows that were once part of that traditional schedule could find life with quick-burst releases, like what BBC will do with Sherlock beginning New Year’s Day. And what Bryan Fuller might do when it comes to his former NBC cult-favorite Hannibal.
The series, based on the 1981 Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon that was successfully turned into a movie franchise starring Anthony Hopkins (including 1991’s Silence of the Lambs), ended its NBC run in late 2015, but that hasn’t stopped fans of the Hugh Dancy and Mads Mikkelsen series to ask for more.
“I hope we get to tell the story. I think, ideally, for the cast, it would be a miniseries, here and there. Let’s do six to eight episodes of that, and six to eight episodes over here. And do it as an irregular thing.”
That wouldn’t be too far removed from Hannibal itself. The series lasted for three seasons, but each one was just 13 episodes. By putting space between mini-seasons – sometimes maybe two years or more – not only will it give the cast and crew freedom to work on other projects, but it could build an even bigger appetite for Hannibal as time wears on – similar to Sherlock.
Sherlock, by the way, hasn’t aired a full season since 2014, and even when it does, each season is just three or four extended episodes. Yet, there is considerable buzz for the series, which stars Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, thanks in part to the length between seasons – and the fact that Cumberbatch and Freeman can do other projects in-between that only helps to boost their profiles.
Hannibal is produced by Sony Pictures Television and wouldn’t be limited to NBC-related platforms. That could open up a potential market through a number of distributors, both traditional and non-traditional.
It might still be hard to pull such a project together, however. Dancy and Mikkelsen have busy shooting schedules, and Fuller has so much on his plate, he actually had to give up his true dream, showrunning Star Trek: Discovery for CBS All Access.
Yet, if Fuller does find success in converting Hannibal into an occasional series like Sherlock, there’s a good chance we might see a similar trend for other television shows that may be ending far too soon.
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