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Is Network TV Getting Too Violent, Gruesome?


"we need to at least respect the cleverness of the serial killer."

This fall, network TV is expected to air a couple shows that even just five years ago might have been reserved for cable television, causing some to criticize what appears to be plot-lines based solely on violence.

NBC began developing a series based on "Hannibal" -- a psychologist turned cannibalistic serial killer -- in 2011, which is expected to air next season, and Fox is preparing its own serial killer thriller called "The Following."

NBC recently announced that it cast Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen, who is well-known as the James Bond villain in "Casino Royale" in the role of Hannibal Lecter. "The Following" stars Kevin Bacon.

Both shows follow serial killers. Bacon is a retired FBI profiler who is brought back to track the followers -- hence the series name -- of one serial killer who is bringing them all together. The TV series of Hannibal takes you back to the beginning of the "psychologist turned serial killer" who teams up with investigators but is "only known as a serial killer to the audience."

Given the nature of the 2001 feature film "Hannibal," a follow up to the 1991 "Silence of the Lambs" both starring Anthony Hopkins, one can imagine the plot of the TV series. "The Following" also touts that it includes a "growing web of murder."

Allyssa Rosenberg for Think Progress speaks out against some of this content making it to mainstream television.

"I’m not normally a prude, but I wonder if this fall will be the season when network television steps over my personal line and starts depicting violence I find uncomfortable to the point of unwatchability," she writes.

Acknowledging already graphic shows on network TV -- "Law and Order: Criminal Intent" and "Bones" as examples -- Rosenberg points out, these shows still "shy away from showing the commission of the gruesome violence they explore."

Rosenberg describes the violence depicted in what she saw of "The Following" as not just a part of the plot, but the "point and the plot."

She says for inherently violent shows, such as "The Following" and "Hannibal," "we need to at least respect the cleverness of the serial killer."

Watch this Entertainment TV report on Mikkleson's landing of the title role in "Hannibal" with some scenes from the film version depicting the serial killer (Warning: Some content could be considered disturbing):

See a clip from "The Following" here.

What do you think? Has network television gotten too violent? Is it eclipsing into a realm once left to cable TV?

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