NBC is pulling the fourth episode of “Hannibal” from its schedule entirely, citing concerns over disturbing subject matter in the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings and Newtown school shootings.
The episode had been scheduled to air next week (April 25) but showrunner Bryan Fuller apparently had second thoughts about the broadcast. Variety reports Fuller told NBC, “Given the cultural climate right now in the U.S., I think we shouldn’t air the episode in its entirety.”
The episode in question featured guest star Molly Shannon as a teacher who brainwashes kids into killing other kids. It was written and filmed before the events in Newtown, but was still scheduled to air up until today. NBC did not include the episode in the five installment press screener sent to critics and reporters earlier this year.
The network and Fuller note that pulling the episode will not disturb the continuity of the serialized storytelling, but NBC.com will post clips from the episode next week that involve development of the core characters and not the teacher storyline.
Because the episode has been pulled and will not be rescheduled, the Season 1 finale of “Hannibal” now moves up one week to June 20 instead of the previously announced June 27.
Whether or not the episode will be featured on any eventual DVD or streaming release of “Hannibal” is not yet clear, but it will be broadcast overseas, meaning some savvy fans are sure to find a way to see it.
The announcement comes the same day overnight ratings show “Hannibal” losing viewership for episode 3 after a steady, if modest, performance for the first two installments.
“I didn’t want to have anyone come to the show and have a negative experience,” Fuller told Variety. “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.”
Check out our preview for teasers from the next two episodes of “Hannibal.”