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AMC’s drama Low Winter Sun seemed like a good fit to air as a companion to the final set of Breaking Bad episodes this summer. It featured lead characters with a different moral code and outlook than the expected norm, and it featured plenty of dramatic speeches that fit the AMC mold. Regardless, it was never a ratings-bringer, and on Friday the cable network officially announced it will not be bringing the drama back for a second season.
The drama actually did reasonably during its first episode. Two and a half million viewers tuned in, and leads Lennie James and Mark Strong were both praised for their performances. However, thanks to its deeply bleak tone, the show aired to mixed reviews, and in subsequent weeks the viewership dropped off. By the time the Season 1 finale aired at the beginning of October, the show was earning less than a million viewers per episode. It’s actually a little bit of a surprise that the drama didn’t get canceled then and there. The crew should have known things were going badly when SNL’s Cecily Strong discussed who might survive Breaking Bad on “Weekend Update,” noting, “"I don't like your chances, 'Low Winter Sun.”
AMC doesn’t come across as a network that typically makes brash decisions, which could explain why the channel waited until today to announce that Low Winter Sun would not be returning. According to Deadline, the news marks just the second drama that has not earned a sophomore season on the cable station. The other program completing that list is Rubicon, a show that did better both critically and in the ratings than Low Winter Sun.
Going into its premiere, there were high hopes for the drama. The network picked the project up to pilot and then series within just a few months. The confidence may have been due to the fact that Low Winter Sun was initially created as a miniseries for British TV. That miniseries had a similar plotline, and even starred Strong, although he sported a different accent in the original role.
Low Winter Sun may not have been a hit, but AMC has a few new projects in the works for 2014. The first is Turn, a Revolutionary War era spy drama that is expected to begin airing sometime next year. I’m guessing the premiere will occur sooner rather than later, as the network has already released the first official trailer for the Jamie Bell-starrer. Secondly, Halt & Catch Fire is also in the works. It’ll be difficult to replace the numbers that Breaking Bad put up this summer, but even if the two new dramas do Mad Men numbers, they should be a good fit for AMC. We’ll let you know as soon as the new programming earns premiere dates.