I say this often enough that I should make it an annual boilerplate disclaimer: when I say that I like a show, I’m not predicting it will be a hit. It’s not snobbery, and it’s not not snobbery; they’re just two entirely different issues. There are great shows that have broad commercial potential (Lost) and great shows that are by nature not going to be for everybody (The Wire).
That said, we found out today that two critics’ favorites of the early fall season are batting .500. First, the good news: HBO’s Boardwalk Empire got a near-instant renewal for a second season, after getting the network’s biggest premiere ratings since Deadwood in 2004 (with The Sopranos as a lead-in). Counting replays, the pilot had over 7 million viewers, huge numbers for a network with not quite 30 million subscribers. Now HBO won’t have to turn its East River set into an ironic amusement park for Brooklyn hipsters.
Now the not-so-good news: Lone Star, one of the few widely well-reviewed new broadcast shows, debuted on Fox to a dismal 4.1 million viewers. When we said the bigamist-con-man drama seemed like a cable show, it was too true; 4 million would have been impressive on FX, whereas on Fox it means life support.
But back to the good news! The Boardwalk pickup release after the jump:
LOS ANGELES, Sept. 21, 2010 – Following resounding critical approval and high viewer numbers for the series’ Sept. 19 debut, HBO has renewed BOARDWALK EMPIRE for a second season, it was announced today by Michael Lombardo, president, HBO Programming.
[Quotes about the show’s critical reception and top-flight cast redacted.]
From Terence Winter, Emmy® Award-winning writer of “The Sopranos” and Academy Award®-winning director Martin Scorsese, BOARDWALK EMPIRE is set in Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition, when the sale of alcohol became illegal throughout the United States.
[Further quotes from critical raves redacted because, really, we get the point already.]
The Sept. 19 premiere of BOARDWALK EMPIRE averaged 4.8 million viewers during the 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT) airing to score HBO’s largest premiere of any program in over six years (since March 21, 2004 – “Deadwood” with “The Sopranos” as lead-in). With additional plays at 10:15 p.m. and 11:30 p.m., BOARDWALK EMPIRE was watched by a combined 7.1 million viewers for the night.
Season one credits: Created by Terence Winter, BOARDWALK EMPIRE is executive produced by Terence Winter, Martin Scorsese, Tim Van Patten, Stephen Levinson and Mark Wahlberg; co-executive producers, Gene Kelly and Lawrence Konner; producers (series), Rudd Simmons and Rick Yorn; producer (pilot), David Coatsworth; supervising producers, Howard Korder and Margaret Nagle.