- - Wednesday, December 28, 2011

‘Hell on Wheels’ renewed for second season on AMC

It’s official: AMC has renewed “Hell on Wheels” for a second season.

Days after news leaked that the Western starring Anson Mount and Common would earn a pickup, the network formally has announced plans for a sophomore season.

“Hell on Wheels,” created and written by Joe and Tony Gayton, stands as the second-highest-rated drama series on the network, averaging 3.2 million total viewers.

The story of the building of the first transcontinental railroad became AMC’s second-highest-rated original series premiere when it launched in November behind the net’s zombie hit, “The Walking Dead, drawing 4.4 million total viewers, and an impressive 2.4 million in the key adults-age-18-to-49 demographic.

From left, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg and Jim Parsons star in "The Big Bang Theory" on CBS. The 100th episode airs on Jan. 19. (Associated Press)
From left, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg and Jim Parsons star in “The ... more >

The Western now marks the fifth of six original series to stretch beyond freshman seasons as AMC continues to find success with scripted fare, joining “The Walking Dead,” “Mad Men,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Killing.”

The first-season finale is set for Jan. 15.

‘Big Bang Theory’ marks 100th episode Jan. 19

When CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” airs its 100th episode on Jan. 19, it will be a look at what has come before for the show’s pivotal couple, Penny and Leonard, as well as the on-again-off-again duo’s future in a very unique way.

“We went back and watched the pilot and we talked about that and we tried to do a 100th episode that connects emotionally to the pilot,” Bill Prady, co-creator and executive producer, told the Hollywood Reporter during a December event celebrating the milestone at the California Science Center in Los Angeles.

The bulk of the episode, titled “The Recombination Hypothesis,” will explore Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Penny’s (Kaley Cuoco) past, present and future, with Chuck Lorre, co-creator and executive producer, calling the installment “a little risky.”

“We wanted to go back to the relationship which started the series, which was Leonard’s attraction to Penny and it was a sweetness to it and it’s where we started and it felt like we’d come full circle on the 100th and explore it again,” he said.

The cast, meanwhile, noted that the milestone would be different from what other shows have done, with Miss Cuoco, Mayim Bialik (Amy) and Simon Helberg (Howard) all citing the episode’s departure from the norm.

“It’s definitely a different episode than we’ve done,” Miss Cuoco told the Hollywood Reporter. “It’s kind of a brain-teaser a bit; you don’t know what’s going on until the end. The end comes and then you realize it all makes sense.”

Meanwhile, Miss Bialik described the episode as featuring a lot of ensemble scenes and said the half-hour is a “really quirky episode.”

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