HD Feed: September 27

Amid all the buzz of free-to-air shows like The X Factor USA and Homeland being rushed to air within hours of their US transmission, it’s surprising to see Sky’s SoHo holding back on one of its own. This is the channel that more than any other has brought subscribers up to speed with US screenings of series like Game of Thrones, Hell on Wheels, Boss and Dexter.  These, and many others, screen within 1-3 weeks of the US, but SoHo is going to the other extreme with Treme and delaying the premiere of season three until five months after its US debut. Given SoHo isn’t overrun with season premieres over the next couple of months, why is one of its signature raison d’etres on hold when subscribers pay to see the likes of this New Orleans drama on air as soon as possible? “Treme season three will be launching end of February,” a spokeswoman says. “Treme was initially overshadowed in a strong launch schedule so we wanted to re-air seasons one and two from October 3, prior to launching season three.”

This week HBO confirmed Treme, which is one of its lowest-rating series, would be renewed for a fourth season — but it would be shortened to only 4-6 episodes.  “We are going to be back for a season 3.5,” creator David Simon said at a screening of the season three premiere. “HBO, upon viewing the 10 [season-three episodes] that we gave them and what we’ve done, they want to see the end of the story. They fought very hard to give us half a loaf. We’re going to take it and run.” It seems a shabby swansong for such a finely-tuned drama but at least Simon’s getting the chance to conclude his series “in a resonant way” — unlike Deadwood’s David Milch, who must still be haunted by the ghosts of Al Swearengen and Calamity Jane after HBO axed his series abruptly without an epilogue.

Tonight’s HD highlights include the season two premiere of Hung on SoHo (Sky 10, 9.00) and part one of a two-part Fringe season finale (TV2, 10.35). S2 of Hung has aired on TV One but not in HD. The Washington Post thought S2 fresher and more textured because of a power struggle between Thomas Jane’s  reluctant, middle-aged male gigolo and  the two women who consider themselves to be his pimp: “What started out as a show about a man’s sense of self-worth has allowed itself (or perhaps wisely intended) to become a rumination on feminine nature instead.” The double-episode Fringe finale marks Leonard Nimoy’s return as a new, more sinister William Bell. He was drawn back to the role because “it was explained to me that we’re opening up a whole world and a whole new can of peas, so to speak, and William Bell is being recreated as something else.” 

Underworld drama Underbelly: Badness unjustly took a ratings hit on Wednesday, when it averaged its smallest audience yet: only 4.5% – 6.0% of key demos. HD lead-ins The Ridges (5.6% – 8.0%) and Drug Bust (5.6% – 8.1%) were up on last week, despite fierce pressure from TV2’s My Kitchen Rules (13.2% – 16.7%). The latter’s popularity helped Anger Management to average 10.9% – 12.4% and Cougar Town, 7.5% – 8.9%. TV One’s season-five re-run of Criminal Minds averaged only 4.0% – 6.1%, which was lower than the show it ejected, Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, while TV3’s The Killing showed signs of life, with 2.3% – 4.8%. 

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