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November 27, 2014

HBO Renews 'Ricky Gervais Show'

by Scott Harris, posted Mar 24th 2010 12:00PM
Fans of good television can rejoice, because it's beginning to look like HBO is back. And leading the charge? Ricky Gervais, of course.

Not that HBO ever left, exactly, but in recent years the network had gained a reputation for prematurely canceling critical and fan favorite shows. 'Rome,' for example, bit the dust after two seasons, as did 'Flight of the Conchords' and 'Carnivàle.' And if you really want to get people's blood boiling, just mention 'Deadwood' to a television enthusiast.

Now, though, the network appears to be in the midst of a creative resurgence. Case in point: According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has decided to renew 'The Ricky Gervais Show.' The animated series, which features voicework from Gervais and his pals Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, is based on the pudgy comedian's popular podcast.Fans of good television can rejoice, because it's beginning to look like HBO is back. And leading the charge? Ricky Gervais, of course.

Not that HBO ever left, exactly, but in recent years the network had gained a reputation for prematurely canceling critical and fan favorite shows. 'Rome,' for example, bit the dust after two seasons, as did 'Flight of the Conchords' and 'Carnivàle.' And if you really want to get people's blood boiling, just mention 'Deadwood' to a television enthusiast.

Now, though, the network appears to be in the midst of a creative resurgence. Case in point: According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO has decided to renew 'The Ricky Gervais Show.' The animated series, which features voicework from Gervais and his pals Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington, is based on the pudgy comedian's popular podcast.

We use the term "popular" in its loosest possible sense, of course, as 'The Ricky Gervais Show' is being renewed despite pulling in a microscopic 0.1 rating in the key 18-49 demographic. That translates to a total of 180,000 viewers per episode, which seems particularly feeble when sized up against some of the network's previous casualties: 'Carnivàle,' for example, averaged 1.7 million viewers during its final season, while the 'Deadwood' third season premiere was considered a disappointment for "only" grabbing 2.4 million viewers.

So why was 'The Ricky Gervais Show' renewed? The answer appears to be simple: The network has begun to regain the confidence it seemed to have lost when shows like 'The Sopranos' and 'The Wire' went off the air, confidence that has led not only to the renewal of 'Ricky Gervais,' but also to commitments to other properties such as 'Hung,' 'Entourage' and the breakout hit 'True Blood.' And with highly anticipated upcoming projects such as 'Treme' and 'Boardwalk Empire' on the horizon -- not to mention Stephen Spielberg's groundbreaking event 'The Pacific,' which is currently airing -- it appears that HBO has finally regained its mojo.

Of course, it also helps that the 'Ricky Gervais Show,' unlike some of the network's earlier casualties, is extremely cheap to produce. And considering Gervais is one of the most popular and buzzed about comedians working today, HBO likely wanted to maintain the working relationship they began forging with reruns of his BBC series 'Extras.'

Whether or not that relationship will eventually produce something viewers actually watch, of course, is still up in the air, but thanks to HBO's newfound patience, it now appears fans will have a chance to find out.

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