Normally, when a show has its renewal delayed and then rescinded and then the show is shipped off to Saturday nights, that’s a sign that the show is playing out the string on the way to cancellation.
It’s very rare that not only does the show overcome those obstacles, but it thrives and goes from the bubble to a no-brainer renewal with a show of extra confidence.
Welcome to the strangeness of AMC’s “Hell on Wheels.”
AMC announced on Thursday (November 14) that not only has “Hell on Wheels” been renewed, but the Western has received an extended fourth season.
After getting 10-episode orders for each of its first three seasons, “Hell on Wheels” will get 13 episodes for its fourth season, which will premiere on AMC next summer.
“John Wirth and his team on both sides of the camera delivered a remarkable third season and ‘Hell On Wheels’ fans responded. We are so proud of this show and congratulate everyone who has contributed to its success,” blurbs Charlie Collier, AMC president. “AMC has served passionate Western fans for three decades, so it is particularly gratifying to see these viewers capping off their Saturdays with an original Western on what has historically been a tough night of the week for television. Our commitment to the genre is unwavering and we look forward to continuing to super-serve this audience with an expanded fourth season of ‘Hell on Wheels.'”
As hinted in the lede to this post, the recent “Hell on Wheels” journey has been an unusual one.
AMC renewed “Hell on Wheels” last October, but held off on that renewal when John Shiban decided to leave as showrunner after only one season. The show was in limbo until December, when Wirth, a veteran of “V” and “The Cape,” was recruited. The drama was then dropped on Saturday night, a place scripted shows generally go to die. Instead, “Hell on Wheels” averaged 3.3 million viewers in Live+3 Day ratings, better than the Live+7 ratings for the drama’s second season.
“Hell on Wheels” wasn’t the only AMC drama to have an unlikely resurrection last year, with “The Killing” suffering a full-on cancellation, earning an unlikely third season and snagging its best reviews since its premiere, only to be cancelled again.
It’s hard to think of many stranger journeys in recent years.
The CW’s “Supernatural” seemed to be nearing the end of its run with a dead-end Friday time period only to perform well enough to earn a return to midweek, where it remains one of the network’s biggest hits.
“Last Comic Standing” has been cancelled more times than I can count, but it keeps getting brought back to NBC with different producers and different hosts.
If Ben Affleck were a TV show, he’d have a similar up-and-down journey, albeit with greater highs and deeper lows. Ben Affleck is not, however, a TV show.
Is anybody *here* still watching “Hell on Wheels”? I hear things got crazy this season. Are you happy to have it returning?