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Vikings fans have been patiently waiting for the back half of Season 6 to arrive ever since the so-called midseason finale aired back in February, no doubt hoping that the final ten episodes will stand up to everything that had come before. While it's already known that creator Michael Hirst will be expanding the franchise with an upcoming Netflix spinoff, but it's now being reported that Hirst will continue his working relationship with History Channel for a new miniseries that was very likely influenced by the current state of the world.
For those who haven't yet guessed, Michael Hirst's new History project will be a scripted look at the terrors of the bubonic plague that ravaged parts of England in the 17th century. Titled The Plague Year, the miniseries will be set in London in the year 1665 in the midst of one of the worst-ever outbreaks of the plague. The storyline will take an overall look at societal changes as many residents vacated the city in large numbers, while those who either chose to remain or were forced to remain had to try their damnedest to survive as the city fell apart around them.
Michael Hirst, who clearly has a fondness for putting actors in some seriously filthy conditions, will be taking on an executive producer role for The Plague Year. The project will be penned by Coleman Herbert, who has written for critically acclaimed shows such as Rectify, Big Love, The Path, and the recently cancelled Peacock sci-fi adaptation Brave New World. Herbert's career certainly bodes well for The Plague Year's potential high quality and challenging emotional turmoil.
It's possible-to-likely that Michael Hirst is limiting himself to an executive producer role on The Plague Year because he's also working on the Vikings spinoff Valhalla that is heading to Netflix's streaming library in the future. The drama is currently in production and working with COVID-19 safety precautions to try and avoid further delays. Vikings fans probably shouldn't expect to see any big cameos from franchise stars, though, since Valhalla will be set a full century after the flagship series' events. That said, those characters' legacies will be living on, so perhaps cameos won't be impossible.
On top of The Plague Year, History is also developing another miniseries dubbed The Donner Party, which will focus on the infamous wagon train group that found themselves facing impossibly harsh conditions in the Sierra Nevada Mountains during the winter of 1846-1847. Once the weather became too harsh and food supplies ran out, some members of the party were reduced to cannibalism, which cemented their place in the creepier corners of U.S. history. The miniseries will be written by documentary filmmaker Ric Burns – brother of PBS icon Ken Burns – who will also serve as showrunner.
With Vikings as its biggest cultural property that enjoys some of the network's most consistent viewership stats, History has very noticeably taken a new approach to its TV slate while waiting on the final episodes to arrive. Both the alien conspiracy drama Project Blue Book and the historical drama Knightfall were cancelled earlier this year, leaving Vikings as the only scripted programming left on History. But with both The Plague Year and The Donner Party, it sounds like network execs have locked down the next phase of the original programming plan, and we can't wait to see how it works out.
At this early point, History hasn't revealed any potential windows of time when The Plague Year might make its debut. Stay tuned for more updates on Vikings' sixth season to see when the final ten episodes will finally premiere, and keep current with our Fall 2020 TV premiere schedule and our Winter and Spring TV premiere guide to see what other new and returning shows are on the way.