The Week in TV and Catch 30 Rock as a Cartoon
• This is the era of almost instant renewals for cable shows with big debuts. The latest: HBO's Game of Thrones, which was given the go-ahead for a second season just a couple days after the pilot episode aired to 4.2 million viewers. Now, those numbers are likely to drop as the season rolls on. Last fall, Boardwalk Empire nabbed 4.81 million viewers for its first episode but lost almost a third of those when the second episode earned 3.33 million viewers, and the rest of the season saw averages around 2.8 million. That's not a knock on the show, either; that's just the way things go. Pilot episodes tend to draw big crowds, especially for high-concept stuff with a big promotions budget, like a gangster drama produced by Martin Scorese or a fantasy series based on bestselling novels. Still, networks know that the key to winning with shows like Game of Thrones is to hold onto the hardcore base, and a hardcore base is often easier to find with fantasy material. Hence, we're getting at least two full years of the show.
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