Fall Preview 2016: Can HBO’s ‘Westworld’ live up to astronomical expectations?

HBO logoIn same ways, it is clearly wonderful when you are able to create a show that generates the level of excitement that “Westworld” has over the past several months. However, at the same exact time you also of course have that fear that things are a little amiss, or it takes the show a few weeks to really get going. Then, you find yourself in the enviable position where you have to convince people your show really is wonderful and that it just had a slow start. We consider that in some ways “The Fringe Effect” (though “Gotham” may also be a good recent example).

On paper, this show has everything lined up to be amazing, but will it live up to that? In the latest edition of our Fall Preview series, we do our best to try and figure that out.

Premiere Date and Timeslot Competition – Sunday, October 2 at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. The series has the timeslot as many of HBO’s greats, whether it be “Game of Thrones” or more recently “The Night Of.” There is absolutely going to be competition, with “The Walking Dead” coming weeks later at the same time. Luckily, this is not a show where you really need live+same day ratings in order to succeed. Its all about the overall pop-culture footprint and total weekly viewers across multiple measures. If the quality is there, it’ll just fine.

Logline – “The one-hour drama series Westworld is a dark odyssey about the dawn of artificial consciousness and the evolution of sin. Set at the intersection of the near future and the reimagined past, it explores a world in which every human appetite, no matter how noble or depraved, can be indulged.”

Cast – Anthony Hopkins, Ed Harris, Evan Rachel Wood, James Marsden, Thandie Newton, Jeffrey Wright, Tessa Thompson, Sidse Babett Knudsen, Jimmi Simpson, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ben Barnes, Simon Quarterman, Angela Sarafyan, Luke Hemsworth and Clifton Collins, Jr.

Trailer – It’s intriguing. It’s almost a little bit of what happens when you combine “A.I.” with “Firefly,” or a really dark, twisted version of “Wall-E” where everything’s not so cute and cuddly. After watching this, you certainly get the sense that the humanity vs. creation debate could heat up over the course of the ten-episode series. It will challenge you on the notion of ethics, while impressing you with its visual presentation.

Overall Take – Without a doubt, “Westworld” looks like it could be must-watch TV for the fall. It just has to come together and be more than just a great trailer. With the likes of Jonathan Nolan and J.J. Abrams on board as executive producers, there is reason for optimism. In the end, this is a big-risk, big-reward drama that is going to be worth watching at least the premiere. As for where we go from there, it’ll depend solely on where the journey takes us. (Photo: HBO)

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