Westworld (TV series)

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Westworld
Westworld (TV series) title card.jpg
Genre
Created by
Based on Westworld
by Michael Crichton
Starring
Theme music composer Ramin Djawadi
Composer(s) Ramin Djawadi
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 10 (list of episodes)
Production
Executive producer(s)
Producer(s) Athena Wickham
Location(s)
Cinematography
Editor(s)
  • Mark Yoshikawa
  • Tanya Swerling
  • Stephen Semel
  • Andrew Seklir
  • Marc Jozefowicz
Running time 57–91 minutes[1][2]
Production company(s)
Distributor Warner Bros. Television Distribution
Release
Original network HBO
Picture format 1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Digital
Original release October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02) – present
External links
Website www.hbo.com/westworld

Westworld is an American science fiction western thriller television series created by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy for HBO. It is based on the 1973 film of the same name, which was written and directed by American novelist Michael Crichton, and to a lesser extent on the 1976 sequel Futureworld. It is the second TV series based on the two films, the first being the short-lived 1980 series Beyond Westworld. Nolan and Joy serve as executive producers along with J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub, and Bryan Burk, with Nolan directing the pilot. The first season premiered on October 2, 2016, concluded on December 4, 2016, and consisted of ten episodes.[3] In November 2016, HBO renewed the show for a ten-episode second season,[4] planned for a 2018 debut.[5]

The story takes place in the fictional Westworld, a technologically advanced Wild West–themed amusement park populated by android hosts. Westworld caters to high-paying guests, who may indulge in whatever they wish within the park, without fear of retaliation from the hosts.

The series' debut on HBO garnered the network's highest viewership ratings for a premiere since the first episode of True Detective in 2014 and Westworld ranks as the most-watched first season of an HBO original series ever.[6] Westworld has received positive reviews by critics, with particular praise for the visuals, story, and acting.

Cast and characters[edit]

Main cast[edit]

  • Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy, the oldest host still working in the park; she is a woman who discovers her entire life is an elaborately constructed lie.[7]
  • Thandie Newton as Maeve Millay, a host; she is a madam. Like Dolores, she also discovers that her life is an elaborate lie.[8]
  • Jeffrey Wright as Bernard Lowe; a host; Head of the Westworld Programming Division and programmer of artificial people's software.[9]
  • James Marsden as Teddy Flood, a host; he is a newly arrived gunfighter who is looking for Dolores to rekindle their relationship.[10][11]
  • Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Armistice, a host; she is a brutal and ruthless bandit, and a member of Hector Escaton's gang.[12]
  • Luke Hemsworth as Ashley Stubbs, the head of Westworld security, charged with monitoring host and human interactions and ensuring the safety of the guests.[13]
  • Sidse Babett Knudsen as Theresa Cullen, Westworld's terse operations leader, responsible for keeping the park from sliding into unscripted disarray.[14]
  • Simon Quarterman as Lee Sizemore, Westworld's narrative director, whose artistic temperament aggravates his co-workers.[12]
  • Rodrigo Santoro as Hector Escaton, a host; he is a wanted gang leader bent on survival.[13]
  • Angela Sarafyan as Clementine Pennyfeather, a host; she works for Maeve and is one of Westworld's most popular attractions.[12] Lili Simmons portrays another host fulfilling the same role when the original Clementine is decommissioned.[15]
  • Shannon Woodward as Elsie Hughes, a rising star in the Programming Division tasked with remedying odd behavior in the park's hosts.[13]
  • Ed Harris as the Man in Black; a rich, sadistic veteran guest of Westworld.[16]
  • Anthony Hopkins as Robert Ford, the founder and creative director of Westworld.[7]
  • Ben Barnes as Logan, a long-time guest. His hedonistic romp through Westworld is equally motivated by self-indulgence and a desire to help his future brother-in-law, William.[17]
  • Clifton Collins Jr. as Lawrence / El Lazo, a host; he is a charming but lethal outlaw, with a knack for maneuvering and negotiating the various criminal elements of Westworld.[14]
  • Jimmi Simpson as William, a reluctant first-time visitor to Westworld, joining his future brother-in-law, Logan. Initially dismissive of the park's more lascivious attractions, he slowly uncovers a deeper meaning to the park's narrative.[14]
  • Tessa Thompson as Charlotte Hale, Delos' executive director of the board overseeing Westworld, seeking to enforce the board's control on Ford.[18]
  • Talulah Riley as Angela, a host that welcomes newcomers to the park, later reassigned to be a follower of Wyatt's. Riley will be promoted to series regular for the second season.[19]
  • Louis Herthum as Peter Abernathy,[20] Dolores' father. Bradford Tatum also portrayed Peter Abernathy in the first season. Herthum will be promoted to series regular for the second season.[21]
  • Katja Herbers as Grace, a guest in Westworld. (season 2)[22]
  • Neil Jackson as Nicholas, a charming, resourceful man who finds himself in uncharted territory. (season 2)[23]

Recurring cast[edit]

  • Ptolemy Slocum as Sylvester, a lab tech working in Delos.[20]
  • Leonardo Nam as Felix Lutz, a lab tech working in Delos who has a major connection with Maeve.
  • Oliver Bell as Young Robert Ford,[20] a host made by Arnold Weber to resemble Ford when he was a child.
  • Jonathan Tucker as Major Craddock, a commanding military officer. (season 2)[23]

Guest cast[edit]

Episodes[edit]

Season 1 (2016)[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
1 1 "The Original" Jonathan Nolan Story by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy and Michael Crichton
Teleplay by : Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy
October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02) 276083 1.96[28]
Teddy and Dolores, two romantically linked android hosts of theme park Westworld, are attacked by the Man in Black, a mysterious park guest. When the hosts begin behaving strangely, head programmer Bernard Lowe traces the problem to errors in park founder Dr. Ford's reverie code and requests the affected hosts be removed from service. Theresa Cullen, the park administrator, orders an attack on the town to be brought forward to help cover for the removal of all the affected hosts. Dolores' father Peter finds a photograph that a newcomer left behind and malfunctions. When Dr. Ford interrogates him, Peter quotes Shakespeare and vows revenge upon his creator. Peter is retired from service. Dolores is interrogated and found to be functioning normally. She is wiped and relives her day with a new father, but unknown to management breaks her programming to casually kill a fly.
2 2 "Chestnut" Richard J. Lewis Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy October 9, 2016 (2016-10-09)[a] 4X6152 1.50[29]
Logan and William arrive at Westworld as guests, but William is reluctant to indulge, finally developing feelings for Dolores. Though Bernard secretly questions Dolores to make sure nobody has tampered with her, her contact with procuring madame host Maeve results in her malfunction as well. Maeve is taken in for maintenance but unexpectedly awakes and witnesses damaged hosts, including Teddy, being cleaned. She is rendered unconscious and taken away before she can attract any attention. Dolores finds a pistol outside the house. The Man in Black abducts outlaw host Lawrence from his execution, demanding that he tell him the location of a maze. Lawrence's daughter gives the Man in Black his next clue after he kills her mother. Ford vetoes Sizemore's new narrative calling it cheap titillation that underestimates the guests. Ford shows Bernard, who is revealed to be involved with Theresa, his alternate narrative involving a church.
3 3 "The Stray" Neil Marshall Daniel T. Thomsen & Lisa Joy October 16, 2016 (2016-10-16) 4X6153 2.10[30]
William drags Logan off on a bounty hunt. Dolores asks Teddy to teach her to shoot, but her programming prevents her from firing a gun. Ford changes Teddy's backstory for his new narrative, in which the latter is pitted against outlaw host Wyatt. Ford also tells Bernard, who is revealed to have lost his son previously, about his old partner, Arnold, who died in Westworld in an accident. Bernard is worried about the effect their conversations have had on Dolores, but she promises to keep quiet and follow her loop. Elsie, who secretly reports to Bernard, and Stubbs are sent to capture a stray host. They find him trapped in a ravine. When Stubbs tries to retrieve his head, he wakes up and attacks them before smashing his own head in with a rock. At the homestead, Dolores is attacked by bandits, one of whom drags her into the barn to rape her. She steals his gun but is unable to shoot him until she sees him as the Man in Black. Though being shot, she escapes, stumbles into William and Logan's campsite and collapses in William's arms.
4 4 "Dissonance Theory" Vincenzo Natali Ed Brubaker & Jonathan Nolan October 23, 2016 (2016-10-23) 4X6154 1.70[31]
Logan decides to finish the bounty hunt and mocks William for bringing Dolores along. They capture the fugitive, but Logan decides to have a better adventure by taking him to his boss. Meanwhile, the Man in Black, accompanied by Lawrence, is hunting snakes and finds Armistice with her snake tattoo. He breaks Escaton out of prison for her, and she tells him that the tattoo represents all of her victims, who were Wyatt's men. The Man in Black and Lawrence leave for Wyatt, rescuing a tortured Teddy. Cullen takes over the investigation into the stray, not trusting Elsie and Bernard. She meets Ford about his new narrative, but he demands she not interfere, revealing his knowledge about her past and affair with Lowe. Maeve is having visions, and during Escaton and Armistice's attack on the town she finds a bullet in her unscarred belly with his assistance, proving that her visions are real. They kiss passionately as the sheriff's men open fire through the door.
5 5 "Contrapasso" Jonny Campbell Story by : Dominic Mitchell & Lisa Joy
Teleplay by : Lisa Joy
October 30, 2016 (2016-10-30) 4X6155 1.49[32]
Hughes discovers that the stray has been transmitting information outside of the park to an unknown party, reporting it to Bernard. The Man in Black kills Lawrence, whose blood he transfused into Teddy. They are then confronted by Ford, who assures the Man in Black that he will not stop the latter's efforts to find the maze, returning Teddy's full strength also. Dolores, William and Logan travel to the town of Pariah, where they meet criminal gang leader El Lazo, a.k.a. Lawrence, who tasks them with stealing a wagon of high explosives from the Union Army, a mission they complete successfully. Dolores, who has been seeing visions of herself advising her to find the maze, realizes El Lazo intends to keep the explosives for himself rather than to sell them to the former Confederates, who apprehend Logan while William and Dolores flee, joining El Lazo in the train. Maeve awakens in the control center and demands technician Felix chat.
6 6 "The Adversary" Frederick E. O. Toye Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan November 6, 2016 (2016-11-06) 4X6156 1.64[33]
At a Union Army outpost, the soldiers recognize Teddy as an accomplice in Wyatt's massacre of his unit. After recalling his complicity, Teddy escapes with the Man in Black by killing all of the soldiers. Sizemore is introduced by Theresa to Hale, a Board representative sent to observe park operations. Theresa ends her relationship with Bernard, who finds out that Ford has secretly been keeping a family of hosts. Elsie continues investigating the glitches and tells Bernard that Theresa is behind the espionage, and that the first generation hosts have been re-programmed by someone calling themselves Arnold. However, she is abducted by an unknown assailant. A child host kills his dog, telling Ford that Arnold told him to. Felix gives Maeve a tour of the company. She bends him and Sylvester to her will and convinces them to change her programming, setting her awareness rating to its maximum level while decreasing her loyalty.
7 7 "Trompe L'Oeil" Frederick E. O. Toye Halley Gross & Jonathan Nolan November 13, 2016 (2016-11-13) 4X6157 1.75[34]
It is revealed that Theresa and Hale are both secretly stealing Ford's research for the board so that they can oust him from the park without fear of him destroying his work in retribution. They engineer an event to demonstrate that Ford's updates make the hosts violent and uncontrollable in their narratives. Bernard is blamed for the update of untested faulty code and fired as a result. William and Dolores develop romance. The train is then attacked by the Confederados, forcing William, Dolores, and Lawrence to flee. They are saved when the Confederados are ambushed by an Indian tribe called the Ghost Nation. Dolores and William part ways with Lawrence. Meanwhile, Maeve finds her friend Clementine retired by the staff. The former decides to use Felix and Sylvester to escape the park. Bernard takes Theresa to Sector 17; inside a hidden lab she finds design plans that reveal he is a host. Ford appears, reiterates to her that he has complete control over the park, regardless of what the board thinks, and has Bernard kill her.
8 8 "Trace Decay" Stephen Williams Charles Yu & Lisa Joy November 20, 2016 (2016-11-20) 4X6158 1.78[35]
Ford has Bernard stage Theresa's death to look like an accident. Then, Ford wipes Bernard's memories after Bernard has a vision of himself attacking Elsie. Stubbs becomes suspicious of Bernard's behavior. Hale recruits Sizemore for her cause. Maeve convinces Felix to give her the ability to control other hosts, and slits Sylvester's throat for attempting to kill her; though she has Felix save him. Maeve then suffers more visions of her past life with her daughter and reflexively kills another host, prompting the park staff to retrieve her for a diagnostic. William and Dolores finally reach their destination, Ford's church, where Dolores has more disturbing visions and realizes that Arnold wants her to remember something before they are captured by a band of Confederados led by Logan. Teddy receives a flashback of the Man in Black attacking Dolores and interrogates him. The Man in Black explains he started searching for the maze to find purpose after his wife's suicide. Teddy is wounded by a female host before they are captured by Wyatt's cultists.
9 9 "The Well-Tempered Clavier" Michelle MacLaren Dan Dietz & Katherine Lingenfelter November 27, 2016 (2016-11-27) 4X6159 2.09[36]
Maeve reveals to Bernard that he is a host and convinces him to let her back into the park, where she meets Escaton and convinces him to help her escape the park. Bernard confronts Ford and forces him to restore all of his memories, and discovers he is a model of Arnold. Bernard attempts to kill Ford; but the latter uses a backdoor in the former's code to force him to commit suicide. Meanwhile, Logan cuts open Dolores's belly to show William she is not real. She manages to escape and run away, finding that the wound is suddenly gone. She reaches the church, where she learns that she killed Arnold. She then encounters the Man in Black. Logan then awakes to find that William has slaughtered all of the Confederados. William threatens Logan into helping him find Dolores. Teddy has a flashback of himself killing host Angela before she kills him. Hale meets the Man in Black, who is revealed to be a Board member, and unsuccessfully tries to gain his assistance in removing Ford. Stubbs investigates suspicious activity in the park and is ambushed by Ghost Nation hosts, who are not under control.
10 10 "The Bicameral Mind" Jonathan Nolan Lisa Joy & Jonathan Nolan December 4, 2016 (2016-12-04) 4X6160 2.24[37]
The Man in Black presses Dolores about Wyatt’s whereabouts and the center of the maze, and reveals he is actually an aged William. Dolores then remembers Arnold’s order to kill him and destroy the park, and that she is actually Wyatt. She attempts fighting back, Teddy rescues her, and they flee to a distant beach. Dolores dies in Teddy's arms, though that is revealed to be part of Ford's narrative. During her escape from Westworld, Maeve—aided by Hector and Armistice—finds Bernard's corpse, and Felix repairs him. Bernard warns Maeve that her desire to escape was programmed into her. Although Maeve—now alone—initially continues her escape, she has second thoughts and exits the imminently departing train to find her daughter. Back at Westworld, Ford tells Dolores and Bernard that he regretted his role in Arnold's death, came to desire to free the hosts as well, and has spent the last 35 years preparing them to fight back. He then gives a speech in front of Charlotte, the Man in Black, and other guests, criticizing their handling of the park. Dolores then shoots and kills Ford while an army of reactivated hosts emerges from a nearby forest.
  1. ^ The second episode was released online on October 2, 2016.

Season 2[edit]

No.
overall
No. in
season
Title Directed by Written by Original air date Prod.
code
U.S. viewers
(millions)
11 1 "Journey Into Night"[38] TBA TBA 2018[5] TBA TBD

Production[edit]

Conception and development[edit]

Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton, the writer of the 1973 film on which the series is based

Warner Bros. had been considering a remake of Westworld since the early 1990s and after the departure of studio executive Jessica Goodman in 2011, the project was again under consideration.[39] Jerry Weintraub had been pushing for a remake for years and, after his success with HBO's Behind the Candelabra, he convinced the network to greenlight a pilot. He took the project to Jonathan Nolan and co-writer Lisa Joy, who saw the potential in the concept to make something far more ambitious,[40] and on August 31, 2013, it was announced that premium cable channel HBO had ordered a pilot for a potential television series version of the story, with Nolan, Joy, J. J. Abrams, Jerry Weintraub and Bryan Burk as executive producers.[41]

HBO later announced that Westworld had been taken to series and that it would premiere in 2015.[42] In August 2015, HBO released the first teaser, which revealed it would premiere in 2016.[43] It is the second series based on Crichton's original story after the 1980s Beyond Westworld, which aired only three episodes on CBS before being cancelled.[44]

Abrams suggested that the show be told with the perspective of the "hosts" in mind.[45] Nolan took inspiration from video games like BioShock Infinite, Red Dead Redemption and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim to deal with the narrative's moral component on a spectrum.[46] During the research, the films of Sergio Leone provided reference points for the characters and visuals, novels by Philip K. Dick informed them about dilemmas concerning artificial intelligence, and for world-building and interlocking narrative, they consulted the Grand Theft Auto games.[47] Nolan explained the show would explore why "violence is in most of the stories we like to watch, but it isn't part of what we like to do" through the characters known as guests, who give payment to satisfy those urges.[48] The autonomous existence of non-player characters in video games influenced the approach to the individual storylines in Westworld that are reset in a continuous loop.[49] A recitation from William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet—"These violent delights have violent ends"[50]—is made part of the show as a virus trigger within the hosts that alters how they perceive their existence.[51] The series explores ideas about the bicameral mind by Julian Jaynes, about the existence of two separate minds—one that gives instructions and another that performs them, and how consciousness comes from breaking down the wall between them by exposing the individual to new kinds of stimuli.[52]

Costume designer Ane Crabtree approached her work by focusing upon the actual historical attire of the Wild West from the 1850s to 1890s for inspiration, rather than Western films. Fabrics were custom-woven, dyed and printed for any actor with a speaking role to capture the intricacies of the costumes (most of which were manufactured from scratch in Upstate New York and Los Angeles). Hat designs were described as the most challenging part of the process.[53]

The 1973 film also included a Roman World and Medieval World, but Nolan has counted these out.[54] However, he has met with George R. R. Martin to discuss a Westeros-themed setting based on Game of Thrones characters.[55] Ed Brubaker served on the writing staff as supervising producer,[56] co-writing the fourth episode with Nolan.[57]

The story has been planned to last up to five seasons by the writers and producers.[58]

Financing[edit]

The ten episodes of the first season were reportedly produced on a budget of approximately $100 million, with per-episode budgets somewhere between $8 million to $10 million, and the pilot episode alone costing $25 million to produce. HBO and Warner Bros. Television shared the cost of producing the series; HBO reportedly also paid an undisclosed licensing fee to Warner Bros. Television for broadcast rights.[59]

Casting[edit]

Anthony Hopkins and Evan Rachel Wood were the first cast members formally announced, taking on the roles of Dr. Robert Ford and Dolores Abernathy, respectively.[7] Jeffrey Wright, Rodrigo Santoro, Shannon Woodward, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Angela Sarafyan, and Simon Quarterman were all announced as cast members in August 2014.[12] James Marsden and Eddie Rouse were also added to the cast.[10] Ed Harris was cast in a key villain role, known only as the Man in Black.[16] Other roles were filled by Demetrius Grosse, Kyle Bornheimer, Currie Graham, Lena Georgas, Steven Ogg, Timothy Lee DePriest, Ptolemy Slocum, Thandie Newton, and Miranda Otto.[8][11][20][60]

In July 2015, it was announced that Otto had departed the show due to her commitments to the fifth season of Homeland and she was replaced by Sidse Babett Knudsen. Additionally, three others were cast; Eion Bailey, Jimmi Simpson and Clifton Collins Jr.[14] Bailey was later replaced by Ben Barnes.[17] Talulah Riley was revealed to have a role as one of the hosts after her ex-husband Elon Musk had stated so on Twitter;[61] Riley will be promoted to series regular for the second season.[19]

After the last episode of the first season was broadcast, Nolan and Joy revealed that they had operated on a strict need-to-know basis with most of the actors, in order to "keep the story as fresh and present for them as possible."[62] For example, in Wood's case, they gave her strange acting directions without explaining why, and it took a while for Wood to infer she was actually playing five distinct characters within the same host: four different behavioral modes for Dolores, plus Wyatt.[63] However, Hopkins was made aware of Ford's general story arc up front (at the time he was pitched the role) to ensure he could fully convey the complexity of the character in his performance.[62][64] Even with that foreknowledge, Hopkins was initially given heavily redacted scripts, and he had to insist on access to entire unredacted scripts.[64]

Filming[edit]

Castle Valley in Utah is one of the filming locations.

Early on it was decided that the series would be shot on 35 mm film with assistance from HD taps, despite increasing difficulties in acquiring film stocks from the remaining manufacturers.[65] For a softer look, the filmmakers used Arri Zeiss master prime lenses with their coatings removed.[66] The series was primarily shot on Kodak motion picture film, which was processed by FotoKem in Burbank and scanned by Encore Hollywood to create digital intermediates of all takes suitable for use as dailies. The final cut was delivered to HBO in 2K JPEG digital format for broadcast and to Warner Bros. Television as a cut negative for archival purposes.[67]

Since much of the series is seen from the hosts' point of view,[68] Steadicams were used to film the whole first season, except for a couple of scenes in the last episode, where a handheld camera was used as a metaphor for hosts who broke free from their programming and acted of their own free will.[69]

Filming for the show's pilot episode took place during a 22-day period[70] in August 2014 in and around Los Angeles[71] as well as Moab, Utah.[72]

Filming locations in California included various soundstages, backlots at both Universal Studios and Warner Bros., the Paramount Ranch in Agoura,[73] the Melody Ranch in Santa Clarita,[70][74] the Skirball Cultural Center and the Los Angeles Convention Center in Los Angeles,[67] and the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood.[75] The Melody Ranch set used for the town of Sweetwater had been used previously for many western films, such as Django Unchained and The Magnificent Seven, but was significantly upgraded for Westworld by production designer Zack Grobler to portray an idealized version of the American frontier.[74] Green screens were placed around the California sets to block modern objects like parking lots, so that the California shots could be later merged digitally with exterior shots from Utah.[74] For scenes showing the arrival of guests, the filmmakers were able to arrange with the Fillmore and Western Railway for the use of a small train originally built for the 2013 film The Lone Ranger. F&W also provided a few hundred feet of track on which to place the train; then a pusher vehicle was used to propel the train into the Sweetwater set. The scenes in the underground laboratory levels of Westworld's operations center were filmed on a soundstage at Melody Ranch. The lab set used glass walls extensively, which meant the crew had to be vigilant to avoid walking through glass on the rather dark set, and they had to keep identifying and suppressing unwanted reflections. Hawthorne Plaza was used for filming the "cold storage" level where decommissioned hosts are stored.[67]

For the show's large-scale exterior look, the producers drew inspiration from the work of John Ford, who shot four of his Western films in Castle Valley, east of Moab.[73] In early 2014, Nolan visited southern Utah with key crew members and a location scout to explore the possibility of filming there, and promptly fell in love with the place.[72] Location shooting for the pilot episode later occurred over five days in southern Utah,[72] including Castle Valley.[73] Most Utah locations, like Dead Horse Point State Park, were "walk-in" areas where both cast and crew were required to hike in and out with all their gear.[72] Horseback riding scenes were filmed at a private ranch, where the filmmakers were not subject to as many restrictions as when working on public land.[75] To seamlessly blend California sets with Utah scenery, set walls were shipped to Utah so that they could be used to film reverse angles of scenes originally filmed in California.[75] For example, conversations on the exterior balcony of Westworld's operations center were shot on a balcony at the Skirball Center facing towards the center, then reverse angles over the shoulders of the cast members were shot at Dead Horse Point, to make it seem as if the operations center was located on top of the state park's steep cliffs.[72][75][67] The train interior scenes were created by mounting the entire train car set on the back of a flatbed truck and driving the truck back and forth along Utah State Route 128.[72]

The 3D printing of hosts was shot utilizing almost entirely practical effects, of which some were polished by the visual effects team.[76] The show used real guns, although they were usually unloaded.[63] Out of respect for the actors and extras involved, filming of nudity was conducted on a closed set, and for sex scenes, a sex consultant was used.[77]

Production was temporarily halted for a couple of months in early 2016 so that showrunners Nolan and Joy could complete the scripts for the last four episodes of the first season.[78] The climax of the first season's finale was filmed at Paramount Ranch in April 2016, with approximately 300 people on set.[79] The crew spent 10 days in May striking the set, which included having to modify structures installed by the filmmakers, such as the chapel, so that HBO's "intellectual property" would not be "violated."[79]

Production on the second season is expected to begin in July 2017.[22]

Title sequence[edit]

The series' title sequence was created by production studio Elastic, which had previously created the title sequences for Rome, Carnivàle and Game of Thrones for HBO. Patrick Clair acted as creative director for the title sequence,[80][81] which took about five weeks to conceptualize.[82]

Clair met with Nolan and Joy in February 2016 to discuss its development. He was interested in their decision to approach the show's point of view from that of the hosts, deeming the result an inherent psychological study. Upon its inception, the sequence would translate elements present in the series via computer-aided design. For example, once Clair was sent footage by composer Ramin Djawadi of a player piano in motion, its actual counterpart, situated in the Westworld production office, was photographed and then reconstructed in computer-generated imagery.[50][82] Nolan also applied the self-playing instrument in reference to Kurt Vonnegut's first novel Player Piano. It was meant to represent the first Rube Goldberg machine to evoke human motion.[51] Clair saw the metaphor behind the player piano—"a primitive form of robot"—as an exploration into the disparity between man and machine "being created to be made redundant." Hosts that were bathed in white liquid struck Clair as a juxtaposition of the grit and grain of the Western genre with its basis in science fiction. Motifs of Leonardo da Vinci's Vitruvian Man came about from Clair's wish to convey Westworld's depiction of the naked human body.[50]

The sequence commences with the rib cage of a horse, along with a set of hosts manufactured by industrial robots. The skeletal horse is shown in mid-gallop to subvert the iconography of such a depiction.[82] As for Clair's efforts in exposing the Western landscapes in connection with a world of robotics, he thought it sensible that it be done inside a single eye; craters and valleys are formed as the simulacrum of an iris.[50]

Music[edit]

Ramin Djawadi
Ramin Djawadi, the composer of Westworld

The music is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who also worked with showrunner Nolan on the TV series Person of Interest.[83] The main theme blends the use of bass notes, light arpeggios and melody, all of which complement the idea of an amusement park.[84] The first season soundtrack was released on December 5, 2016.[85]

Djawadi spoke about the modern songs used in the show, stating, "The show has an anachronistic feel to it, it's a Western theme park, and yet it has robots in it, so why not have modern songs? And that's a metaphor in itself, wrapped up in the overall theme of the show",[86] but credited Nolan with coming up with the idea.[87]

Player piano and strings renditions featured in Westworld include Radiohead's "No Surprises",[88] "Fake Plastic Trees", "Motion Picture Soundtrack" and "Exit Music (For a Film)",[89] Soundgarden's "Black Hole Sun", The Rolling Stones' "Paint It Black",[51] Scott Joplin's "Pine Apple Rag"[90] and "Peacherine Rag", Claude Debussy's "Reverie L.68",[91] The Cure's "A Forest",[92] The Animals' version of "The House of the Rising Sun", Amy Winehouse's "Back to Black" and Nine Inch Nails' "Something I Can Never Have".[93] Licensing costs ranged from $15,000 to $55,000.[94]

Marketing[edit]

Prior to the airing of Westworld, HBO held virtual reality exhibits at events like San Diego Comic-Con and Techcrunch Disrupt devoted to Westworld: A Delos Destination. Attendees were allowed to navigate the process by which guests would enter Westworld, and interact with the 3D environment.[51][95][96]

Made to run on the HTC Vive virtual reality headset, the piece was conceived by showrunners Nolan and Joy. It was designed using Unreal Engine 4, combining computer-generated content and live action 360-degree video. Users received a binary code, permitting access to the website DiscoverWestworld.com as part of a viral marketing campaign. Visitors were shown a trailer of a fictional travel site, leading them to order a trip to Westworld. A chatbot featured on the website, named Aeden, is available as a Google Assistant action on the smart speaker Google Home.[97]

Broadcast[edit]

The series premiered October 2, 2016 in North America and Australia,[98][99][100] and on October 4, 2016 in the UK and Ireland.[101] The series is broadcast on HBO in the United States, on HBO Canada in Canada, on HBO Latin America in Mexico, in Australia on Showcase,[102][100] and in the UK and Ireland on Sky Atlantic.[101]

The series premiere had viewership numbers slightly less than those for True Detective, but much better than Vinyl, that meant it was seen as "...off to a relatively promising start..."[103][104] Mandy Adams, of iTechPost noted that, "Emotional reactions on Twitter were estimated to be 545-percent greater compared to the debut of Vinyl and 326-percent higher than the latest The Leftovers season."[105] The U.S. series premiere attracted 1.96 million viewers, with 0.8 million in the advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-old demographic.[28] The premiere episode received 3.3 million viewers for its three Sunday night airings as well as on HBO's streaming platforms.[106]

The second episode aired on HBO in the US on October 7—two days ahead of the episode's announced broadcast date—to avoid competing with the second U.S. presidential debate of 2016.[107][108]

The season one finale received 2.2 million viewers for its initial broadcast, and increased to 3.5 million including replays and on-demand viewing. The first season had an average cumulative viewership of 12 million viewers, making it the most-watched first season of an HBO series,[6] and TorrentFreak gauged Westworld as the third most-torrented television show of 2016.[109]

Reception[edit]

Critical response[edit]

Reception of the series has been positive, with particular praise for the visuals, story, and acting.[110][111][112] After early reviews, the first season has a 89% approval rating based on 73 critics on the review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes, with an average score of 8.2 out of 10, and an average episode score of 94%. The site's consensus reads "With an impressive level of quality that honors its source material, the brilliantly addictive Westworld balances intelligent, enthralling drama against outright insanity."[113] On Metacritic, the first season has a score of 74 out of 100 based on 43 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[114]

The editors of TV Guide placed Westworld fifth among the top ten picks for the most anticipated new shows of the 2016–17 season. In writer Tim Surette's overall review, he notes the perfect concept of blending the western premise into a futuristic setting, saying, "Well, Westworld has both, ensuring that it will be an exciting mashup of genres that will disrupt a television landscape that typically says we can only have one or the other." He also added, "The look of the show and its fine cast swing open the saloon doors, but the real treat will be the intelligent discussion of whether or not robots will eventually kill us all. Thankfully, creator Jonathan Nolan already showed us he's the go-to guy for A.I. with Person of Interest."[115]

Westworld (season 1): Critical reception by episode

Ratings[edit]

No. Title Air date Rating/share
(18–49)
Viewers
(millions)
DVR
(18–49)
DVR viewers
(millions)
Total
(18–49)
Total viewers
(millions)
1 "The Original" October 2, 2016 0.8 1.96[28] N/A N/A N/A N/A
2 "Chestnut" October 9, 2016 0.7 1.50[29] 0.6 1.41 1.3 2.91[117]
3 "The Stray" October 16, 2016 0.9 2.10[30] 0.6 1.30 1.5 3.40[118]
4 "Dissonance Theory" October 23, 2016 0.7 1.70[31] 0.7 1.58 1.4 3.28[119]
5 "Contrapasso" October 30, 2016 0.6 1.48[32] 0.8 1.63 1.4 3.11[120]
6 "The Adversary" November 6, 2016 0.7 1.64[33] 0.7 1.48 1.4 3.11[121]
7 "Trompe L'Oeil" November 13, 2016 0.8 1.75[34] N/A N/A N/A N/A
8 "Trace Decay" November 20, 2016 0.8 1.78[35] 0.7 1.56 1.5 3.34[122]
9 "The Well-Tempered Clavier" November 27, 2016 1.0 2.09[36] 0.7 1.53 1.7 3.61[123]
10 "The Bicameral Mind" December 4, 2016 1.0 2.24[37] 0.7 1.51 1.7 3.75[124]

Accolades and nominations[edit]

Westworld has been nominated for 22 Emmy Awards, 3 Golden Globe Awards, 2 Satellite Awards, 4 Critics' Choice Television Awards, and 2 Writers Guild of America Awards.

Year Award Category Recipient Result Ref.
2016 Satellite Awards Best Actress – Television Series Drama Evan Rachel Wood Won [125]
[126]
Best Television Series – Genre Westworld Nominated
Critics' Choice Television Award Most Exciting New Series Westworld Won [127]
Best Drama Series Westworld Nominated [128]
[129]
Best Actress in a Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood Won
Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Won
American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Movie, Miniseries, or Pilot for Television Paul Cameron (for "The Original") Nominated [130]
IGN Awards Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [131]
Best New TV Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Drama Series Westworld Won
Best TV Actor Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Best TV Actress Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Thandie Newton Won
IGN People's Choice Award Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [131]
Best New TV Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Drama Series Westworld Nominated
Best TV Actor Jeffrey Wright Won
Best TV Actress Evan Rachel Wood Won
Thandie Newton Nominated
California On Location Awards Location Manager – Television One Hour Mandi Dillin Nominated [132]
[133]
Assistant Location Manager of the Year – Television David Park Nominated
Television – One Hour – Location Team Team for Westworld Nominated
International Film Music Critics Association Awards Best Original Score for a Television Series Ramin Djawadi Nominated [134]
2017 69th Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Drama Series Westworld Pending [135]
Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series Anthony Hopkins Pending
Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series Evan Rachel Wood Pending
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Pending
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series Jeffrey Wright Pending
Outstanding Directing for a Drama Series Jonathan Nolan (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
69th Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series John Papsidera Pending
Outstanding Cinematography for a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) Paul Cameron (for "The Original") Pending
Outstanding Costumes for a Period/Fantasy Series, Limited Series, or Movie Trish Summerville, Jo Kissack Folsom, Lynda Foote (for "The Original") Pending
Outstanding Creative Achievement in Interactive Media Whithin a Scripted Program Westworld Pending
Outstanding Hairstyling for a Single-Camera Series Joy Zapata, Pavy Olivarez, Bruce Samia, Donna Anderson (for "Contrapasso") Pending
Outstanding Main Title Design Patrick Clair, Raoul Marks, Yongsub Song, Felix Soletic, Jessica Hurst and Jose Limon Pending
Outstanding Makeup for a Single-Camera Series (Non-Prosthetic) Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti, Gerald Quist, Lydia Milars, Ed French (for "The Original") Pending
Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup for a Series, Limited Series, Movie, or Special Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada, Georgia Allen, Gerald Quist, Myriam Arougheti (for "The Original") Pending
Outstanding Main Title Theme Music Ramin Djawadi Pending
Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Drama Series Andrew Seklir (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Contemporary or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More) Zack Grobler, Steve Christensen and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Nathan Crowley, Naaman Marshall and Julie Ochipinti (for "The Original") Pending
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Series Thomas E. Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong, Fred Paragano, Mark Allen, Marc Glassman, Sebastian Visconti, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Christopher Kaller, Rick Owens and Tara Blume Norton (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Comedy or Drama Series (One-Hour) Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Roger Stevenson and Kyle O'Neal (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Outstanding Special Visual Effects Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Joe Wehmeyer, Eric Levin-Hatz, Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahren, Paul Ghezzo, Mitchell S. Drain and Michael Lantieri (for "The Bicameral Mind") Pending
Golden Globe Awards Best Television Series – Drama Westworld Nominated [136]
Best Actress – Television Series Drama Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Best Supporting Actress – Series, Miniseries or Television Film Thandie Newton Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Drama Series Nominated [137]
Outstanding Performance by An Ensemble in a Drama Series Ben Barnes, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Ed Harris, Luke Hemsworth, Anthony Hopkins, Sidse Babett Knudsen, James Marsden, Leonardo Nam, Thandie Newton, Talulah Riley, Rodrigo Santoro, Angela Sarafyan, Jimmi Simpson, Ptolemy Slocum, Evan Rachel Wood, Shannon Woodward, Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series Thandie Newton Nominated
ACE Eddie Awards Best Edited One Hour Series for Non-Commercial Television Stephen Semel and Marc Jozefowicz (for "The Original") Nominated [138]
Art Directors Guild ADG Excellence in Production Design Award for One-Hour Period Or Fantasy Single-Camera Series Nathan Crowley (for "The Original") Won [139]
Writers Guild of America Television Drama Series Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu Nominated [140]
Television New Series Ed Brubaker, Bridget Carpenter, Dan Dietz, Halley Gross, Lisa Joy, Katherine Lingenfelter, Dominic Mitchell, Jonathan Nolan, Roberto Patino, Daniel T. Thomsen, Charles Yu Nominated
People's Choice Awards Favorite Premium Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series Westworld Nominated [141]
Producers Guild of America Awards Episodic Television, Drama J. J. Abrams, Jonathan Nolan, Lisa Joy, Bryan Burk, Athena Wickham, Kathy Lingg, Richard J. Lewis, Roberto Patino, Katherine Lingenfelter, Cherylanne Martin Nominated [142]
Visual Effects Society Awards 2016 Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Episode Jay Worth, Elizabeth Castro, Bobo Skipper, Gustav Ahrén (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [143]
Cinema Audio Society Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Mixing – Television Series – One Hour John Pritchett, Keith Rogers, Scott Weber, Mark Kondracki, Geordy Sincavage (for "The Original") Nominated [144]
69th Directors Guild of America Awards Dramatic Series Jonathan Nolan (for "The Original") Nominated [145]
Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Awards Best Contemporary Makeup – Television Christien Tinsley, Elisa Marsh, Rolf Keppler Won [146]
Best Period and/or Character Makeup – Television Christien Tinsley, Myriam Arougheti, Rolf Keppler Nominated
Best Special Makeup Effects – Television Christien Tinsley, Hiroshi Yada Won
Costume Designers Guild Awards Outstanding Period Television Series Trish Summerville (for "The Original") Nominated [147]
Ane Crabtree Nominated
Dorian Awards TV Drama of the Year Westworld Nominated [148]
TV Performance of the Year – Actress Thandie Newton Nominated
Golden Reel Awards Best Sound Editing – Long Form Dialogue and ADR in Television Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [149]
Best Sound Editing – Long Form Sound Effects and Foley in Television Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Rick Owen, Tara Blume, Mark Allen and Marc Glassman (for "The Bicameral Mind") Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: FX/Foley Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Geordy Sincavage, Michael Head, Tara Blume, Rick Owens, Mark R. Allen and Marc Glassman (for "Trompe L'Oeil") Won
Best Sound Editing in Television, Short Form: Dialogue / ADR Thomas E. de Gorter, Matthew Sawelson, Brian Armstrong and Fred Paragano (for "Trace Decay") Nominated
Society of Camera Operators Awards Camera Operator of the Year – Television Steven Matzinger & Greg Smith Nominated [150]
43rd Saturn Awards Best Science Fiction Television Series Westworld Won [151]
Best Supporting Actor on Television Ed Harris Won
Jeffrey Wright Nominated
Best Supporting Actress on Television Thandie Newton Nominated
Evan Rachel Wood Nominated
Best Guest Performance on a Television Series Anthony Hopkins Nominated
Empire Awards Best TV Series Westworld Nominated [152]
Canadian Society of Cinematographers Awards TV Series Cinematography Robert McLachlan (for "Contrapasso") Nominated [153]
Location Managers Guild Awards LMGI Award for Outstanding Locations in Period Television Mandi Dillin Won [154]
Edgar Awards TV Episode Teleplay Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [155]
Ray Bradbury Award Outstanding Dramatic Presentation Jonathan Nolan & Lisa Joy (for "The Bicameral Mind") Nominated [156]

Home media releases[edit]

The first season of Westworld (subtitled The Maze) will be released on Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray on November 7, 2017. It is the first scripted TV series to be released on 4K Blu-ray.[157]

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