Let’s start with the unexpected. AMC has gone ahead and renewed freshman series Halt And Catch Fire for a second season. Despite middling ratings and buzz, the 80s period drama about the PC Revolution will return next year. Star Lee Pace (Pushing Daisies) provided the initial draw and after a slow build the show became fun summer fare with its knack for capturing the exciting, experimental era it’s set in. From the technological jargon to the music, HCF eventually found its creative streak and has me yearning to see more in a second season. Props to Pace’s costars Scoot McNairy, Mackenzie Davis, and Kerry Bishé for their emotionally grounded performances that made it easy to get invested.
“This is a show about invention, experimentation and the inherent risks in trying to break new ground — themes that really resonate with us as a network and attracted a passionate audience,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “We have a history of demonstrating patience through the early seasons of new shows, betting on talent and building audience over time. We see that opportunity here and look forward to a second season of Halt and Catch Fire from creators Chris Cantwell and Chris Rogers, and showrunner Jonathan Lisco.”
Elsewhere, FX renewed Guillermo del Toro and Carlton Cuse’s vampire horror fest The Strain and Showtime is bringing back Masters of Sex and Ray Donovan for a third season. No surprise here, really. Though I’m not the loudest Strain supporter (I have issues with the writing and acting) it’s the type of summer fare that just makes sense. As for Masters of Sex, this is the show that just keeps on giving. This season’s bottle episode “Fight” might be the series best thus far featuring phenomenal performances by stars Martin Sheen and Lizzy Caplan.
“We’ve never had any doubts about The Strain,” said FX Networks head John Landgraf. “It is thrilling when you have a show that is a creative and commercial hit, which is a rare accomplishment in this increasingly crowded marketplace. We look forward having it on FX for as long as Carlton, Guillermo and Chuck Hogan need to tell this epic tale.” Added del Toro: “I am thrilled! Another season to spread the virus! Working with Carlton, Chuck and FX has been immensely rewarding and we have such sights to unveil in the upcoming episodes — the blood hits the fan on this one, mankind becomes an endangered species.” Added Cuse: “I am grateful for all the blood, sweat and tears (but mostly blood) given to the project by all involved, and I could not be more excited to continue telling this epic story.”
“Both Ray Donovan and Masters of Sex are quintessentially Showtime: bold, provocative, premium television with production values at the top of the food chain,” said Showtime president David Nevins. “These acclaimed shows are filled with complex and interesting characters and settings that will no doubt give audiences compelling television to invest in for seasons to come.”
“Who knew one could feel so ecstatic about such a depressing show!” I tweeted upon hearing the news of renewal. HBO’s The Leftovers, from Lost’s Damon Lindelof and Leftovers author Tom Perrotta, continues to depress and infuriate its viewers with gory, out of left field violence (read: the shocking death-by-stoning of GR member Gladys) and mystery perpetually left unresolved (Perrotta’s book never explains what happened to The Departed; will the show?). So far in its first season the series has managed to captivate with its unapologetic dreary outlook. It’s proven it can tell interesting character studies by using full episodes to further flesh out backstories (see: Rev. Matt Jamison and Nora Durst’s tales of faith and discovery). And then there’s our protagonist, the flawed, enigmatic Kevin Garvey, Jr. played expertly by Justin Theroux whose life eloquently weaves in and out of dreams always living on the edge of sanity. Garvey is the glue whose actions have repercussions not only on his depressing town but also on the main mystery that lights a fire under the series: where did everyone go and why? Whether or not Holy Wayne’s army of pregnant Asian women hold the key to “bridging” the gap between The Leftovers and The Departed, it’s too much fun despising the chain-smoking, white-clad Guilty Remnant and picking out the Lost-like clues Lindelof is leaving along the way. With just three episodes left this season, we are on the precipice of finding out if this show truly contains any answers or if it will continue to force viewers to journey into a bleak and hopeless unknown that is, at the same time, a supremely hypnotic and tantalizing place to be.
“We are thrilled to bring back The Leftovers for a second season with the exceptional talents of Damon Lindelof and Tom Perrotta,” HBO programming head Michael Lombardo said in a statement today. “It has been truly exciting to see the overwhelming response to their provocative and original storytelling. We look forward to continuing the journey as the show delves deeper into the lives of those who remain.”
The Leftovers airs Sunday nights at 10PM on HBO.
FX has renewed Fargo and Louie for a second and fifth season, respectively.
EP Noah Hawley took big risk adapting and twisting the Coen brother’s classic film for the small screen and it paid off. Fargo on FX, starring Martin Freeman and Billy Bob Thornton, proved to be a highly addicting, violent, and incredibly intriguing character study. Hawley thinks there’s more to explore in this inspired world he brought back to life and in its second season we will travel back in time to revisit Keith Carradine’s character Lou Solverson, albeit at a younger age. The 10-episode Fargo was always billed as an event series, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a new season will play out sort of like FX’s other series American Horror Story with new characters and an entirely new plot. Though Fargo season 2 will deviate from AHS in that it will take place in the world as its first season and will carry over familiar characters (played by different actors, of course). Lou will be much younger in 1979, and his daughter Molly (portrayed by the talented Allison Tolman in season 1) will be but four years old. In terms of plot, the new season will explore the “Sioux Falls” incident that Lou mentioned a couple times in the show’s first year. Expect more Fargo in 2015.
Moving on to Louie, the comedian produced (and directed and wrote and edited and starred in) arguably the best season of his dramedy this year. Standouts “Elevator” and “In the Woods” pushed the envelope in terms of pure creativity. FX head John Landgraf puts it nicely: “Louie’s fourth season was once again groundbreaking. Sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking — always thought provoking. The show went to narrative and cinematic places no comedy has gone before and we look forward to seeing what Louis comes up with next.” A 7-episode fifth season is expected to air in Spring 2015.
The Keri Russell/Matthew Rhys Cold War KGB spy drama The Americans will live to see a third season.
“The Americans continues be one of the best shows on television,” said Eric Schrier, President of Original Programming for FX Networks. Executive Producers Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields and Graham Yost have done a wonderful job delivering two seasons, and the performances from Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys and Noah Emmerich are stellar. Fans will be blown away by the rest of this season, and we can’t wait to see what they come up with next year.”
Elsewhere, HBO picked up the award-wining Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy Veep for a fourth season and Mike Judge’s new tech-infused sitcom Silicon Valley for a second season.
This week HBO renewed its hit fantasy series Game of Thrones for fifth and sixth seasons. A two-season pickup is nice, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. First, logistically, the sprawling drama is based on George R.R. Martin’s books which will span across seven thick novels when all is said and done; so there is much story that needs to be adapted for the small screen. Second, of course, is the show’s monster ratings. Last Sunday’s season 4 premiere drew in a record-breaking 6.6 million viewers making it the pay cabler’s most watched program since The Sopranos‘ series finale in 2007.
“Game of Thrones is a phenomenon like no other,” said president of HBO Programming Michael Lombardo. “David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, along with their talented collaborators, continue to surpass themselves, and we look forward to more of their dazzling storytelling.”
Also renewed this week is A&E’s Psycho prequel series Bates Motel. The Freddy Highmore & Vera Farmiga show will return for a 10-episode third season in 2015. Season 2 is really starting to unravel Norman’s psychosis and another season of the thriller is going to bring viewers even closer to the serial killer we know he is destined to be.
“The incredible writing team and talented Bates Motel cast has made this series one of the most compelling original dramas on television,” said A&E EVP and GM David McKillop. “The brilliant twists and turns of the past two seasons keep its loyal fan base coming back for more. We are so proud of the show.”
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM on HBO and Bates Motel airs Mondays at 10PM on A&E.
Here’s a quickie: On March 19, NBC renewed Chicago Fire, its spinoff Chicago PD, and supernatural genre series Grimm. Joining these three series next season are the previously renewed The Blacklist, Parks and Recreation, The Voice, and Celebrity Apprentice.
On Thursday CBS renewed 20 series consisting of 9 dramas, 6 comedies, 3 reality shows, and 2 newsmagazines and they are:
NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Person of Interest, Criminal Minds, CSI, Elementary, Hawaii Five-0, Blue Bloods, The Good Wife, The Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls, Mike & Molly, Mom, The Millers, Two and a Half Men, Survivor, The Amazing Race, Undercover Boss, 60 Minutes, and 48 Hours.
Those CBS shows still “on the bubble” and that haven’t been greenlit for another season at this time include veteran The Mentalist and freshman dramas Intelligence and Hostages (the latter of which has a .01% chance of returning), and freshman comedy The Crazy Ones.
“The best way to launch new shows in the fall and throughout the season is to surround them with a strong and stable lineup of successful series,” said CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler. “The shows we’re picking up today cut across every night of the week and feature genre leaders, time period winners and the most-watched shows on broadcast television.”
Note: The network renewed Survivor for two additional cycles and The Big Bang Theory‘s renewal includes three more seasons of the hit Chuck Lorre sitcom.
“Comedy is a big part of our schedule, and The Big Bang Theory is the biggest comedy force on television,” said Tassler. “This multi-year deal further strengthens our network’s position for future seasons and marks another chapter in the great partnership CBS enjoys with Warner Bros. Television for delivering audiences the best in comedy. We’re proud to work with and showcase the incredible talents of Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro and this amazing cast every week.”
FOX renews ‘New Girl,’ ‘The Mindy Project,’ ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ & ‘The Following’ [Update: 'Raising Hope' cancelled]
Great news for fans of FOX programming: on Friday the network renewed three of its popular sitcoms and one thrilling drama. The Zooey Deschanel half-hour New Girl will return next season for a fourth season; though it’s performing modestly in the ratings this season it still remains one of the network’s flagship comedies. Though they were considered “bubble shows” due to their low ratings this season, Mindy Kaling’s The Mindy Project and two-time Emmy winner Brooklyn Nine-Nine with Andy Samberg are both coming back for a third and second season, respectively. Additionally, Kevin Bacon’s Ryan Hardy will live to see another day to take down Kevin Purefoy’s serial killer Joe Carroll when The Following returns for a third season next fall. Again, despite a drop in ratings this season, FOX deemed it right to bring back the cult show. And I can see why; creatively all of these are hitting their marks.
“These shows are some of the best and acclaimed series on television, with influential, culture-driving stars, and some of the best, most creative talent behind the camera,” said FOX execs Kevin Reilly and Joe Earley in a press statement. “All four are core assets within our 2014-15 portfolio of content, and we’re really happy to bring them back to our FOX fans for another season.”
These four series join Glee, Bones, and Sleepy Hollow on the list to return on FOX’s 2014-15 slate.
Update (3/10): Here’s one sitcom that won’t be returning in the fall: the zany, often heartfelt Raising Hope. After four seasons fans will be checking out of Natesville and saying goodbye to the Chance family when the show airs its one hour finale (2 back-to-back episodes) on Friday, April 4th. Though the final episode has already been shot, EP Mike Mariano assures viewers that it will serve as an appropriate series with a satisfying sendoff. Jump after the break for quotes from Mariano and FOX exec Reilly. (Click here for more…)
Of course HBO’s The Newsroom starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer is returning for another season. Unfortunately, however, the third season of Aaron Sorkin’s fast-talking cable news drama will be its last. Sorkin, a filmmaker who’s ready to focus on his next big movie based on Steve Jobs’ life, will give the series a proper ending.
“The Newsroom is classic Aaron Sorkin – smart, riveting and thought-provoking,” said HBO programming president Michael Lombardo. “I’m sure this farewell season will be one to remember.”
As a staunch supporter of the show, I’m equally surprised and saddened to hear it’s coming to an end. I always imagined that The Newsroom could go on for awhile, picking apart real-life news along with fictional tales for years. But this is Sorkin’s baby and if he’s saying this is it then that’s reason enough to pull the plug while it’s on top. (Still, another season or two would’ve been welcomed with open arms, but oh well.)
The Newsroom returns for its final hurrah later this year.
Here’s some exciting news: NBC has granted the wildly addicting and action-packed procedural The Blacklist for a 22-episode second season. After airing only two episodes the Peacock ordered a full season of the show and it didn’t take the network much longer to decide The Blacklist is a keeper. It’s a ratings machine; it ranks as the #1 drama in the coveted 18-49 demo averaging a 4.9 rating/13 share, plus it gains even more viewers after factoring in DVR usage.
“The success of The Blacklist demonstrates that inspired storytelling is alive and well in broadcast television, and I’m impressed on a daily basis by this creative team’s imagination and the extent to which they will go to capture this grand vision on film,” NBC head Robert Greenblatt said in a statement. “With gratitude to both our partners at Sony Pictures Television and our NBC development executives who took a great script and shepherded it into a great series, I hope that Red Reddington never runs out of names to bring down on his list!”
The Blacklist aired its fall finale last Monday and it returns with new episodes January 13.
Elsewhere, The CW gave full season orders to its three new series The Originals, The Tomorrow People, and Reign.
Ryan Murphy will continue to scare up viewers with a fourth installment of FX anthology series American Horror Story. The third season Coven is the most-watched season of AHS to date averaging 7.7 million viewers.
“Put simply, Ryan Murphy is a master television producer,” said FX head John Landgraf. “Time and time again he reinvents the form. What he, co-creator Brad Falchuk and their producers Dante Di Loreto, Tim Minear, Jennifer Salt, James Wong, Brad Buecker, Jessica Sharzer, Douglas Petrie, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Alexis Martin Woodall and the entire production team and cast responsible for the American Horror Story franchise have done is nothing short of extraordinary. Every year, they create a riveting and brilliant new miniseries. AHS: Coven is the best yet, and I have no doubt that the next installment will be even better.”
The 13 episode fourth season is set to debut in 2014. Though the season’s theme and stars are still being kept under wraps, Jessica Lange has publicly confirmed that she will return to the show to step into a new character’s shoes.
AHS: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10PM on FX.
After clocking in a record breaking 20.2 million viewers for its season 4 premiere, it comes as no surprise that AMC is granting The Walking Dead a fifth season.
“We are very happy to make what has to be one of the most anti-climactic renewal announcements ever: The Walking Dead is renewed for a fifth season,” said AMC president Charlie Collier. “This is a show that has erased traditional distinctions between cable and broadcast. Its expanding base of passionate fans has grown every season, most recently – and most notably – with the season four premiere earlier this month, which broke viewership records for the series and became the biggest non-sports telecast in cable history. On behalf of the incredible team on both sides of the camera, thank you to the fans and here’s to more Dead.”
As of now, Scott M. Gimple will in fact remain the showrunner for next season. But the current season is still young and there’s plenty of time for him to go the way of Frank Darabont and Glen Mazzara, though it’d be nice for Dead to hold onto its showrunner for once.
The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9PM on AMC.
Showtime has renewed Homeland and Masters of Sex for a fourth and second season, respectively. The Emmy-award winning Homeland is the network’s #1 rated show averaging 6.5 million weekly viewers. The CIA drama is exploring new avenues this season with intense character studies of its two main protagonists Carrie Mathison and Nicholas Brody, both of whom are experiencing extreme isolation as they remain worlds apart from each other. Some think it to be too slow, but I am appreciating the shift in pace and the focus on character. If you’re caught up you know the game has changed with a surprise twist so things are expected to ramp up in terms of sheer fast-paced action Homeland is famous for.
Freshman Masters of Sex has proven to be a hit as well, averaging 5.4 million viewers. Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, who portray real-life human sexuality pioneers William Masters and Virginia Johnson, lead a great cast in a show that everybody knew would be sexual and risqué yet also addicting and very intriguing.
“Homeland continues to prove its strength for Showtime, and is one of television’s most exciting, provocative and widely-discussed shows. It has grown its audience significantly in each of its three seasons,” said Showtime President David Nevins. “And, the critical and audience reaction to Masters of Sex since its great launch has been incredibly gratifying. It’s a privilege to get to work with such talented and creative people as Alex Gansa and Michelle Ashford, as well as their tremendous casts. They have each created truly original shows, with distinctive voices that are among the most admired series on television.”
Homeland and Masters of Sex air Sunday nights starting at 9PM on Showtime.
Under The Dome is coming back for a 13-episode second season and Stephen King, the author whose 2009 novel the CBS drama series is based, will pen the premiere episode when it returns in Summer 2014.
CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler on the renewal: “We’re excited to tell more stories about the mystery of the dome and the secrets in Chester’s Mill, and are thrilled to have the master storyteller himself, Stephen King, tell the first one of next season.”
In all, 17.8 million total viewers tuned into the series premiere in June and the show also proved its worth in the adults 18-49 demo landing a 4.6 rating. Though those numbers have dropped since, they still remain elevated at a level strong enough to warrant a second season; the most recent episode attracted a sizable audience with 11.4 million viewers and a 2.8 rating in the coveted demo. The show is performing solidly internationally and on Amazon where CBS has an exclusive deal enabling Instant Video subscribers to stream episodes four days after they air. In fact, Dome is the most watched series ever on Amazon’s streaming service.
All in all, Under the Dome is proving to be great summer fare and it’s showing the other networks that scripted TV can work outside the traditional September-to-May window. (FOX enters the fray next summer with new drama Gang Related and the return of 24.) The show’s got some kinks to work out (the character Angie, for example, drives me up a wall with her terrible decisions…and what exactly are Junior’s motives?) and the pacing and character development need to be accelerated. But the overall mystery of the dome and the secrets being spilled inside it have me intrigued enough to want to see more. I gladly accept a series renewal.
Under The Dome airs Mondays at 10 on CBS.
Hemlock Grove, Eli Roth’s horror series produced for Netflix is coming back for more. On Wednesday the streaming service renewed the series based on Brian McGreevy’s gothic horror novel for a 10-episode second season to premiere all-at-once sometime next year. Chic Eglee–a veteran TV producer who’s worked on shows like The Walking Dead, Dexter, and The Shield–is joining Hemlock Grove as an executive producer in season 2.
Executive producer Roth on the renewal: “The worldwide fan response to Hemlock Grove was phenomenal. Netflix members loved the potent combination of sexy monsters, mystery, and the dark family soap opera that ended with a huge twist, leaving audiences worldwide totally shocked. Season One was just a warm up for what we have in store for season two. Get ready to be scared in ways you never expected.”
Netflix VP of Original Content Cindy Holland: “In its first season, Eli, Brian, [exec producer] Lee [Shipman] and the team did an incredible job of introducing viewers to a unique world of memorable charactersChic’s addition to the show, and his experience on such fan favorites as The Shield, The Walking Deadand Dexter, will heighten the intensity of the mystery that grips Hemlock Grove.”
Unexpected, joyous news: despite dangerously low ratings following a midseason berth, NBC has greenlit a second season of Bryan Fuller’s imaginative serial killer psychological thriller Hannibal. “We’re so proud of Bryan’s vision for a show that is richly textured, psychologically complex, and very compelling,” said NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke. “There are many great stories still to be told.” A 13-episode second season is expected to find a spot on the Peacock’s schedule during the latter half of the 2013-14 season. Hannibal, which stills airs new episodes Thursdays at 10, is currently averaging 4.7 million viewers and a 2.0/6 share in the adults 18-49 demo.
Though Mads Mikkelsen plays the title character in Dr. Hannibal Lecter (and with an incredibly delicate balance of madness and concern, I might add), it’s Hugh Dancy as expert criminal profiler Will Graham who steals the spotlight in Hannibal. Over the course of the season he’s been submitting himself to psychological torture by embracing pure empathy and stepping into the shoes of the most insane of killers. It’s Mikkelsen’s Hannibal who is attempting to mold him into a real killer, ever so meticulously. It’s this journey into darkness and the unknown, with its mythology-driven and not so usual procedural tendencies, that has been coming back every week for more. Hannibal, though on a much darker side of the spectrum to Fuller’s previous work Pushing Daisies, serves as a perfect sequel to that. Absolutely ecstatic more is on the way.
No surprise here: two days after airing the season 3 premiere of Game of Thrones, HBO renewed the fantasy series based on George R.R. Martin’s books for a fourth season. As previously reported, the season 3 premiere ranked as the series’ highest rated episode to date attracting 4.4 million viewers.
Game of Thrones airs Sunday nights at 9PM on HBO.
The day after FX aired the fourth episodes of The Americans the cable network renewed the Cold War drama for a second season that will consist, again, of 13 installments. Stars Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell make convincing Russian spies and executive producers Joe Weisberg and Joel Fields have already successfully managed to get viewers to root for the KGB. Kudos.
“The Americans has quickly established itself as a key part FX’s acclaimed drama line-up,” said FX head John Landgraf. “Executive Producers Joe Weisberg, Joel Fields and Graham Yost and their collaborators are telling riveting and deeply emotional stories and the performances of Keri Russell, Matthew Rhys, Noah Emmerich and the entire cast are simply outstanding. The show is truly worthy of its widespread critical acclaim and we are confident that its quality will continue to yield a robust and passionate audience.”
The Americans airs Wednesday nights at 10PM on FX.
High off its recent Golden Globe wins for Best Comedy and Best Actress (Lena Dunham), HBO’s Girls has been renewed for a third season. The premium cable network ordered 12 episodes for the next season–that’s an additional two half-hours more than the first two seasons received. Star/creator/executive producer/director/writer Lena Dunham let the news out early on Thursday when she told Alec Baldwin on his podcast that “We’re starting season three at the end of March. I’m so excited.”
Girls airs Sunday nights at 9PM on HBO.
Adam, Blake, Ders, and the rest of the raunchy, laugh-out-loud cast of Workaholics returns for the second half of the series’ third season this Wednesday, January 16 at 10PM on Comedy Central. The first of ten new installments is called “Booger Nights” and in it the guys are determined to be the funniest bunch at the office roast. Preview the episode in a clip inserted after the break; watch as the guys try their hardest to convince Alice that they’re funny enough to play in the roast. And no, they haven’t lost their spark.
In related news, Comedy Central renewed Workaholics for two more seasons each consisting of 13 episodes. “When I realized Workaholics is not a reality show, it made me appreciate the guys’ talent that much more,” said the network’s head of original programming and production Kent Alterman. “It only seems right that we would renew for two seasons.”
You know you want to say it… LET’S GET WEIRD!