Ordinarily, a channel announcing the rough time of year when a show will debut wouldn't be worthy of much note. In the case of HBO and Westworld – which will debut at some point in the fall, along with new Sarah Jessica Parker comedy Divorce (created by Catastrophe's Sharon Horgan), Issa Rae comedy Insecure, and a TV version of web comedy High Maintenance – it's a different story.
HBO has been through a lot of turmoil the last few years, especially on the drama side of things where it's been so dominant for so long. Game of Thrones is a world-beater, but it likely only has a couple of more seasons to go. Meanwhile, The Leftovers never really caught on (despite being TV's best drama) and will end after its (still-unscheduled) third season, Vinyl was a disappointment in terms of ratings and reviews and fired its original showrunner, True Detective seems unlikely to ever return, and lots of other high-profile projects have either been stuck in development or killed outright. Longtime HBO executives Michael Ellenberg and Michael Lombardo both recently left the channel, with former comedy chief Casey Bloys, who was supposed to succeed Ellenberg, now taking over Lombardo's position. And even
Westworld, a remake of the '70s Michael Crichton film with Richard Benjamin and Yul Brynner, has come to symbolize the pay cable giant's recent struggles as much as anything. With J.J. Abrams executive producing and an all-star cast including Anthony Hopikins, Ed Harris, Jeffrey Wright, and Evan Rachel Wood, it's high-profile, expensive, and has gone through numerous delays, including production shutting down altogether for a while.
That HBO, only days after Bloys' promotion, has announced that Westworld will debut in fall (even without a specific date given) is the first confirmation we've gotten that – unlike the Lewis and Clark miniseries that's in limbo, or David Fincher's Video Synchronicity, which shut down in mid-production – the show will actually air.
I hope Westworld is good – or, if it's not, that some other upcoming HBO drama (like David Simon's '70s porn drama The Deuce with James Franco) turns out to be. The TV business is a much more interesting place when HBO is at its best, and while they're still doing a lot of interesting things in comedy, the drama side could use some help soon.