Scripted series are at such a premium at the moment that many networks who've built their brand on nonfiction programming are preparing to launch dramas, among them History. The channel, which once felt like it aired nonstop World War II-centric doc shows, has been expanding its mandate in the last few years, first with non-historical reality fare like "Ice Road Truckers" and "Pawn Stars" and more recently with scripted miniseries like "The Kennedys" and Kevin Costner's massively successful "Hatfields & McCoys."
"Vikings" will be History's first full-on scripted series, created by Michael Hirst, writer of "Elizabeth" and creator and executive producer of Showtime's "The Tudors." The show, which is loosely based upon the reign of Viking King Ragnar Lothbrok, stars Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Katheryn Winnick, Gabriel Byrne, Jessalyn Gilsig, George Glagden and Gustaf Skarsgård, the latest son of Stellan to land a TV series (brothers Alexander and Bill are on "True Blood" and Netflix's "Hemlock Grove," respectively). The positioning of the below moody opening sequence for the show, which premieres March 3rd, suggests History's hoping for this to be their "Mad Men"-style prestige breakout.