‘His Dark Materials’ has become a breakout– and unconventional– hit for HBO. The network known for family-unfriendly smashes like ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Westworld’, True Blood’, and more, has tapped into an entirely new fanbase– kids. ‘His Dark Materials’ is HBO’s biggest ever “co-viewing” hit– an experience that parents are kids are tuning into together– averaging 5 million viewers per episode.
The show is a shared presentation with the BBC which airs the show in England. (In fact, the Brits get each episode one day before we get it here.) It is produced by Bad Wolf and New Line and based on Philip Pullman’s best-selling YA book series. HBO and the BBC initially ordered two eight-episode seasons, which mostly adapted Pullman’s first two novels, ‘Northern Lights’ and ‘The Subtle Knife’, with a few elements of later books sprinkled in.
At the TCA press tour, HBO’s head of programming, Casey Bloys expressed:
“One of the things that I was hoping and the numbers we’re seeing bear this out, it is more of a co-viewing show than we’ve ever had. We don’t have many shows where kids and parents can watch together and that was the idea with this show and it has done really well.”
His Dark Materials stars Dafne Keen, James McAvoy, Ruth Wilson, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Keen plays main character Lyra, a seemingly ordinary but brave young woman from another world. The first season follows Lyra searching for a kidnapped friend. She uncovers a sinister plot involving stolen children and becomes a quest to understand a mysterious phenomenon called Dust. As she journeys through the worlds, including our own, Lyra meets a determined and courageous boy called Will (Amir Wilson). Together they encounter extraordinary beings and dangerous secrets, with the fate of both the living — and the dead — in their hands.
There is a third book in Pullman’s series, ‘The Amber Spyglass’. Considering that ‘His Dark Materials’ is doing so well for HBO, there should be no problem, although, as Bloys said, it’s not entirely up to them.
“Season two is just coming in and I think once we get Season Two, we’ll talk about season three and what it would look like. We obviously have to talk to the BBC.”
But luckily, the show is a hit in Great Britain as well, drawing 7.5 million viewers for the premiere and retaining 4 million for the S1 finale.
But then what? Pullman has also penned a few novellas and short stories set within this reality, plus a prequel novel trilogy ‘The Book of Dust’, but this is no ‘A Song of Ice & Fire’. There’s a limited number of publications from which to draw. Then again, the creators of ‘Game of Thrones’ had to wing it in later seasons, as George R.R. Martin has never finished his novel series.
Did you tune into the first season of ‘His Dark Materials’? Would you like to see more?