This Week in TV:
Vikings earns a season 3 renewal from History; the El Rey Network green lights From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series for season 2; AMC announces a season 4 renewal for Comic Book Men, as well two new Kevin Smith projects; ABC cancels Once Upon a Time in Wonderland after just one season; and FremantleMedia teams up with Corona Pictures for a Birds of Prey adaptation penned by J.J. Connolly (Layer Cake).
Just four episodes into its second season, Vikings received a season 3 renewal from History earlier this week.
The channel's first - and currently only - original series will begin production on season 3 this summer and is slated to premiere the first of its new 10-episode season in 2015. The early renewal is certainly not a shock, considering the show's popularity has continued to rise this year as season 2 episodes have brought in an average of 3.4 million viewers.
Many critics, including our own David Griffin, have praised season 2, crediting its success to "stellar casting and top-notch writing," which have helped Vikings avoid a sophomore slump or becoming a Game of Thrones knock-off.
History has been pleased with not only the show's performance, but also its ever-increasing quality. Said History general manager Dick Hoogstra:
“'Vikings' has taken viewers by storm and has established itself as one of the most compelling, visually stunning dramas on television. With its large, passionate and loyal fan base, 'Vikings' has cemented History firmly in the scripted series genre, just as we are the leaders in reality television.”
Vikings season 2 continues next Thursday @10pm on History.
Another network's first fictional series was renewed this week. From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series will return for season 2 on the newly established El Rey Network.
El Rey, which was co-founded by From Dusk Till Dawn director Robert Rodriguez late last year, actually pulled the trigger on the renewal even quicker than History did with Vikings, giving the series a 13-episode season 2 just two episodes into the show's rookie season.
Since debuting as the network's first original series, the reboot of Rodriguez's 1996 cult vampire flick has attracted plenty of attention from genre fans, but also from major distribution players, including Netflix, which has acquired season 2 of the show and is currently carrying it in key international territories.
Series creator, writer and director Rodriguez - who recently said he prefers the new series to his original film - expressed his excitement about the show, saying:
“This is a truly unique property and one that has really resonated for viewers. It has been a joy to bring these characters back to life and have the opportunity to take our storytelling to a whole new place.”
From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series season 1 continues on Tuesday, April 1 on the El Rey Network.
Adding to this week's renewals, Comic Book Men was picked up for season 4 by AMC, which also announced that two new Kevin Smith-related projects are currently in the works.
The popular reality series - which follows Smith, his friends, staff and the customers of his comic book shop, Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash - has continued to perform well for the network, prompting not only the renewal, but plans for a spinoff series centered on super comic collector and pop culturalist Robert Bruce.
In fact, development is already underway on the Smith-produced spinoff, which would follow Bruce and a team of experts as they "scour the country searching real estate sales, auction houses and flea markets on a quest to find rare items that will feed the needs of his demanding clients and add to Bruce’s own colossal collection."
In case viewers weren't getting enough Kevin Smith-created content, AMC is also planning to turn Smith's successful podcast, Hollywood Babble-On, into a late-night talk show. If that project makes it to series, it would be co-hosted by Smith and his podcast partner, Ralph Garman.
We'll update you on the status of these projects as news comes in, but to get your Kevin Smith fix in the meantime, check out the Comic Book Men season 3 finale on Sunday, March 30 @Midnight on AMC.
Renewals were certainly plentiful this week, but Once Upon a Time in Wonderland was not so fortunate, as ABC axed the series after just one season.
While Once Upon a Time continues to thrive on the network, its spinoff failed to grow an audience of its own and struggled in its primetime Thursday slot. Instead of planning a move, ABC decided to cancel the show after just 13 episodes. A special episode of Shark Tank is slated to take the show's place on April 10 and encores of Grey's Anatomy are set to fill the void for the remainder of the season.
Tune in to Once Upon a Time in Wonderland's final episode on Thursday, April 3 @8pm on ABC.
With development already underway on a Hunchback of Notre Dame series called Ugly, FremantleMedia announced this week that it is also adapting Wilbur Smith's adventure novel Birds of Prey for TV.
With plans for a 13-episode season 1 in place, the company is currently co-developing the show with Corona Pictures, which owns the film and TV rights to the book. The partners will be pitching the potential show to network execs at MIPTV in April, while Layer Cake scribe J.J. Connolly begins penning the adaptation.
Set in the 1660s, Smith's original novel acts as the first (chronologically) in a series of 13 that chronicle the lives of the influential and affluent Courtney family, who settle in previously uncharted regions of Africa in pursuit of treasure, fortune and wealth. While it's unclear if Corona has the rights to the entire series, there is certainly plenty of material and story to mine if the show ends up moving forward.
We'll pass along more info on Birds of Prey as it comes in.