While movie studios continue to reject most movies featuring cowboys until this summer blows over, television seems oddly intent on reviving the Western, with networks both broadcast and cable suddenly snapping up anything that sounds vaguely grizzled. One of the first to lead that charge was Battlestar Galactica producer Ronald D. Moore, who last year began developing a remake of the steampunk touchstone Wild Wild West that seemed destined for a pickup until everyone started posting links to this Will Smith video. With that project in an apparent holding pattern, Moore has now moved on to ABC’s Hangtown, a Western spin on the CSI-style procedural in which a lawless town’s crimes are solved by a marshal who relies on his instincts, a snooty East Coast doctor who enthusiastically embraces the new field of forensics, and a young female writer who’s attempting to turn their stories into dime-store novels. Bet she's brash!
With its lack of mad scientists and needlessly complicated gears, it’s definitely not as ambitious as Wild Wild West or some of Moore’s other post-BSG projects (like his supernatural cop show 17th Precinct), but not even that is a guarantee it’ll actually make it to air—especially as ABC seems to be hedging its bets by also ordering Gunslinger from Detroit 187 showrunner David Zabel, once again demonstrating his utter contempt for titles. Still, at least one of those could join a rash of recently announced Westerns traditional, contemporary, and somewhere in between like AMC’s Hell On Wheels, TNT’s Gateway, A&E’s Longmire, CBS’ Ralph Lamb, and an untitled script for NBC (who already rejected the post-Civil War drama Reconstruction) from Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg and Liz Heldens that will examine the Wild West from “a female point of view.” (Suggested title: It Sucked.) Perhaps Gore Verbinski’s Lone Ranger reboot just needs to think smaller and go back to its roots?