Adding to a growing list of original programming, AMC has announced its newest series, the post-Civil War drama Hell on Wheels has received a full order for season 2.
The announcement solidifies AMC’s successful track record for cultivating new, original programming, which includes critical darlings Mad Men and Breaking Bad, ratings juggernaut The Walking Dead and the American remake of the Scandinavian murder mystery The Killing. In fact, the only series AMC has launched that failed to receive an order for a second season was the super-dense conspiracy drama Rubicon.
The story of Hell on Wheels hinges on former Confederate soldier Cullen Bohannan (Anson Mount), who finds work on the railroad while chasing down the Union soldiers responsible for the murder of his wife and child. Cullen’s story is one of many converging on the titular makeshift town of Hell on Wheels, populated by a bevy of well-known and up-and-coming actors like Common (Smokin’ Aces, Wanted), Colm Meany (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine), Tom Noonan (Heat), Wes Studi (Avatar), as well as Dominique McElligott (Moon) and Robin McLeavy (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter).
So far, season 1 has been more railroad than revenge, but Hell on Wheels still managed to maintain a steady and respectable audience through the seven episodes that have aired so far. Debuting to an impressive 4.4 million viewers in November, the western has seen its viewership drop after losing the coveted lead-in of The Walking Dead. Despite flying solo, however, HoW still wrangles in over 2 million viewers per episode.
Created by Joe and Tony Gayton (Faster), the series has earned high marks for its lush visuals depicting the sprawling vistas of the untouched west, but has also been met with concerns over the slow, meandering pace since its premiere – an assessment common amongst other AMC dramas The Walking Dead and The Killing. In comparison, however, Hell on Wheels received its order for season 2 around the same time point in its season as The Killing – which, due to the late renewal, had many questioning its return.
Clearly, such pacing concerns rank low in order of importance to AMC, as this renewal shows little sign of trepidation on behalf of the network. Meanwhile, The Walking Dead is readying the final six episodes of its second season, while production on season 2 of The Killing is currently underway.
The assurance that season 2 of Hell on Wheels will happen should provide the series’ creators some breathing room, and a chance to expand on the story while attending to the aforementioned issues. If anything, the renewal should be seen as AMC’s belief in the series and willingness to invest in the maturation of its characters and storyline.
Hell on Wheels will return from the holiday break with a new episode on January 1 @10pm.