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!
First, the good news: The Walking Dead is coming back for a fourth cycle next year, obviously, since it has been maintaining record high ratings all season long. And now, the hauntingly disconcerting news: Showrunner Glen Mazzara will not be involved in the making of season four and beyond. When the second half of season three wraps he’s stepping down as showrunner due to creative differences. Typically Dead is renewed for a new season shortly after its record-breaking ratings are posted following a season premiere, but this year the news came later and the decision to let Mazzara go was most likely the major holdup here. A series of released statements from Mazzara, the cable network that airs the show AMC, Dead creator Robert Kirkman, and executive producer Gale Anne Hurd make it sound as if the parting of ways was amicable, but industry sources say Mazzara was not enjoying his time at the helm of the show as of late. The statements can be read in full after the break.
I say this is disconcerting news because it has happened before. Series developer Frank Darabont exited the show on less “amicable” terms early in season 2, also due to creative differences with the network. The Walking Dead started off strong in its abbreviated debut season, the action slowed down when the farm was introduced in season two, and when Darabont handed the reins to Mazzara things kicked into high gear and never looked back. The current season is arguably the best one yet, and fans have Mazzara’s touch to thank for that. How will the show forge on without him come season four? It managed to reach new heights when Darabont left so it’s still fair to believe that the show will continue to see success with a new showrunner at the helm (the search is on); Kirkman and Hurd–executive producers who have their hands firmly planted in the show’s creative department aren’t going anywhere. But still (and I’m going to use this word one more time) it’s extremely disconcerting, for the team behind the show and viewers alike, to see The Walking Dead be handed off from one showrunner to the next. A show with this magnitude of ratings (and recently creative) success doesn’t deserve to be shaken up so much on such a regular basis. In the end this may really hurt the show in terms of its overall direction and sense of cohesion.
Mazzara’s vision of The Walking Dead continues when it returns with new episodes Sunday, February 10. (Click here for more…)
Holy Chalupa Batman, Batman! On the very day of the Shiva Bowl, FX has renewed The League for a fifth season of play. Pete, Kevin, Rodney (people call him Ruxin), Andre, Taco, and Jenny will return for 13 more episodes next fall featuring all the wacky antics that spawn from their fantasy football league competition. And the good news doesn’t stop there; a statement released by the network says that FX envisions the show sticking on their schedule beyond season five.
FX EVP of Original Programming Nick Grad: “The League is flat-out one of the funniest shows on television. Co-creators Jeff and Jackie Schaffer have such a perfect take on the material and the show has an amazingly talented ensemble cast of stars. Another season was an easy decision and we hope to have it on our schedule for many more years to come.” (!)
Series co-creator Jackie Schaffer also commented on the pickup: “It’s a dream job — we get to make a show we love with a brilliant cast on a fearless network. If the Mayans and Dirty Randy are right and the world ends tomorrow, at least we can say we made it to Season 5.”
Some stats: The current season averages 1.63 million total viewers and 1.45 million in the adults 18-49 demo. On a multi-run total basis, the season is delivering 2.43 million total viewers and 2.09 million adults 18-49 per week.
FX airs The League‘s season four finale tonight which is comprised of two back-to-back episodes, “A Krampus Carol” and “The Curse of Shiva.” Guest stars include Andre’s fiancé Trixie (Jayma Mays), Pete’s not-girlfriend Gina Gibiatti (Brooklyn Decker), Ruxin’s dad (Jeff Goldblum), and Bob Odenkirk (Saul Goodman from Breaking Bad) joins the roster as an adversary for Rodney. The one hour event starts at 10:30PM.
This week FX renewed American Horror Story. With strong ratings and intense creativity brimming, it’s no shocker. The anthology series’ third season remains under wraps plot-wise, of course, but it has been revealed that Jessica Lange (Constance Langdon in Murder House, Sister Jude in Asylum) will star again. With season two encompassing so many intense fears, it’s hard to imagine what Ryan Murphy and co. have in store for us next.
FX president John Landgraf: “With American Horror Story: Asylum, Ryan and Brad have raised the bar in every way from Murder House, the first American Horror Story miniseries. And their original idea—the notion of doing an anthological series of miniseries with a repertory cast—has proven groundbreaking, wildly successful and will prove to be trendsetting. We can’t wait to see what deviously brilliant ideas they come up with for their third miniseries.”
FX begins production on the third season of AHS this summer and it’s set to premiere in Fall 2013.
Currently, AHS: Asylum airs Wednesday nights at 10PM on FX.
On Monday Showtime renewed Homeland for a third season. Coming off a critically acclaimed first season and sweeping at the Emmys, the counterterrorism drama from Howard Gordon, Alex Gansa, and Gideon Raff continues to bring the intensity, suspense, and surprise. The renewal comes a day after the shocking plot twist that occurred in season two’s fourth episode “New Car Smell;” this episode ranks as the highest rated hour of Homeland garnering 1.75 million viewers.
Showtime president David Nevins on the 12-episode renewal: “The Emmy wins for Homeland have certainly set the stage for a great second season. The writers, cast and crew of Homeland continue to create a remarkably entertaining and suspenseful roller coaster ride, growing audiences week after week. We can’t wait for our viewers to experience what unfolds through the rest of season two. Our partners at Fox 21 have been tremendous, and we are thrilled to begin the planning for Homeland’s third season.”
Homeland airs Sunday nights at 10PM on Showtime.