Why we won’t see new episodes of ‘Westworld’ until 2018

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From left, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Leonardo Nam, Rodrigo Santoro, and Thandie Newton on HBO’s “Westworld.”
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John P. Johnson/HBO

There’s good news and bad news for fans wondering about when HBO’s “Westworld” will return.

The good news is there’s plenty of time to catch up with the just-ended first season or watch it again, because the bad news is that the show won’t be back until 2018.

Show creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy announced the news on Monday.

“We won’t be on the air until 2018,” Nolan told Variety. “We started that conversation with the network when we were shooting episode two and we realized the complexity of trying to write and produce the show at the same time. We both work in the movie business, as well. And in the movie business, the best that you can possibly hope for with a film franchise is to turn around another installment in two or three years. So really on that schedule, we’re doing great.”

Nolan and Joy said they were working on scripts and outlines for the show’s sophomore season. Fans can understand the level of complexity involved in writing the show after watching its first season, which featured multiple timelines, two actors playing the same character, and one actor playing two characters, all alongside a complicated storyline.

“It’s an ambitious project, and HBO has encouraged us to take the time and resources that we need to work on each stage of that,” Nolan said.

“I love television,” he continued. “One of the fun things about television is that sometimes you find yourself in this place where you have to wear all these hats at once. You have to write, shoot, and cut simultaneously. We wanted to in the second season spend some more time writing, then switch gears into production, then cut. So we’re not going to follow the annual year-on-year tradition of television. Television’s changing. And the ambition of the project is such that we’re going to take our time to get the second season right.”

This isn’t the first time “Westworld” took some liberties with time. It was approved in 2013, with HBO setting a 2015 premiere. At some point the network made changes to the pilot, and the premiere moved to 2016. Then in January, HBO announced that the show was going to halt production to allow Nolan and Joy some time to catch up on writing the season’s last four episodes. That pushed the premiere date later to October.

It has appeared to be time well spent. The show had the most watched first season of any HBO original series, including “Game of Thrones” and “True Detective.” It has also garnered early awards attention from the Critics’ Choice Television Awards and the Writers Guild of America TV awards.