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NBC Pulls ‘Hannibal’ Episode in Wake of Violent Tragedies (EXCLUSIVE)

Net's action is another example of sensitivity concerns after high-profile tragedies

After several particularly violent months in America, NBC has decided to pull episode four of frosh drama “Hannibal” from its lineup due to the disturbing content involving children murdering other children.

Fourth episode of the grisly serial killer drama featured Molly Shannon’s character brainwashing kids, leading them to kill other children.

Episode four was slated to air next week. Peacock will instead move directly to episode five. While the drama is serialized, NBC claims there will be no continuity issues, noting that TV critics have seen episodes three and five, and not four.

Decision arose after series creator Bryan Fuller phoned NBC and told the net that, “given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn’t air the episode in its entirety.”

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“I didn’t want to have anyone come to the show and have a negative experience,” Fuller told Variety. “Whenever you [write] a story and look at the sensational aspects of storytelling, you think, ‘This is interesting metaphorically, and this is interesting as social commentary.’ With this episode, it wasn’t about the graphic imagery or violence. 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 the Sandy Hook shooting in December and this week’s Boston Marathon bombings as the root of this sensitivity issue. “Hannibal,” from Gaumont Intl., was filmed before the events in Newtown, Conn., had transpired.

By pulling episode four from the lineup, NBC has effectively bumped the frosh season of “Hannibal” up a week. The season finale for “Hannibal,” originally slated for June 27, will now be on June 20.

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Incident is just another example of TV execs and creatives pulling content in the wake of violent events over the last few months. This week, ABC pushed an episode of “Castle” where Detective Kate Beckett steps on a pressure-sensitive bomb to April 29, though Alphabet may push the episode even further if it is still deemed too insensitive given recent events.

What’s more, after the Sandy Hook shooting, Syfy yanked an episode of “Haven,” which featured a school violence storyline. TLC delayed one-off “Best Funeral Ever” and Fox pulled episodes of its Sunday night toon skeins “Family Guy” and “American Dad” that execs felt were inappropriate given what had occurred in Connecticut days earlier.

Fans of “Hannibal” will still be able to see clips from episode four, however. NBC is making a package of clips from the yanked episode available on NBC.com next week. It focuses on character development and not the procedural element featured in episode four of “Hannibal.” Package will feature Fuller offering voice over and discussing the series.

“This is also a great opportunity to provide another platform for the show that can draw audiences to social media and give them original content that’s not just a behind-the-scenes special, but a webisode featuring the primary cast, which is a rare thing to get on the net,” Fuller explained.

But, mostly, Fuller said,  “We want to be respectful of the social climate we’re in right now.”

Peacock notes that the fourth episode will run overseas, but not in the States.

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