The Curious Case of Spy Drama Hunted: Canceled by the BBC, Saved By American Network

Contemporary spy thriller Hunted starring Melissa George was purported to be a replacement for the BBC’s long-running MI-5 before its premiere earlier this Fall.  However, despite fairly strong ratings for its first episode, the series lost half of its audience over its six episode UK run. By the time a BBC spokesperson confirmed that the drama would not return for a second series, claiming, “"It hasn't found the mainstream audience it was hoped,” the news didn’t really seem that surprising.

Pretty open and shut case of a fledging drama failing to live up to its expectations, right? Not so fast. Hunted has an American co-producer, which means that the drama is surprisingly going to get a second chance at life. Hunted airs on Cinemax here in the States, and the network is apparently very happy with the show and its performance in the American market – enough to give it a second series in some as yet to be determined form. Talk about a last minute stay of execution!

"We are making plans with creator and executive producer Frank Spotnitz and star Melissa George to present a new chapter in the Sam Hunter mythology. We are very pleased with what 'Hunted' has done for Cinemax's brand and are very excited about what lies ahead," Kary Antholis, president of HBO miniseries and Cinemax programming, said in a statement.

Because the rights to Hunted are held by multiple parties, it’s unlikely that the series will continue in precisely the same format – and who knows, it may not even be called Hunted anymore by the time we see whatever a Series 2 might look like. But Cinemax and series creator Spotnitz can build a new show around George’s Sam Hunter character and it seems safe to say that the entertaining, often thoughtful and sometimes confusing stories of corporate espionage (and, let’s be real, gun violence) can continue.

I’ve only seen the first couple episodes of Hunted thus far, but it’s certainly an interesting enough series – it’s flawed to be sure and you can certainly spot some plot holes if you squint, but George is a fairly compelling heroine and the supporting cast is excellent. It’s not exactly a groundbreaking series, from what I can tell, but it’s certainly more than decent effort in this genre. It deserves a second season, just to see where we go.

Also the whole “American network continues British series it likes” angle of this story is quite intriguing. With US-UK production partnerships becoming more and more commonplace, might we see more of this sort of thing in future (in either direction)? Might mean new life for other endangered series in the future as well - which is something we can all get behind!

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