AMC’s been on roll with its original series for the past few years, and they intend to keep it going with railroad drama Hell on Wheels. The first teaser trailer for the new series was posted this week.

Hell on Wheels takes its name from the traveling work camps that helped expand railroads westward after the Civil War. Anti-hero and former Confederate Cullen Bohannon (Anson Mount) travels to such a camp under the guise of looking for work; in actuality, he’s searching for his wife’s killers.

Mount has been around the block a few times without landing a breakout role. He played ADA Steele on the short-lived Law & Order spinoff Conviction, as well as leads on the equally curtailed The Mountain and Line of Fire. One-off characters on Smallville, Lost and Dollhouse dot his resume.

Trekkies will be glad to know that Colm Meaney (AKA Chief O’Brien) will play a major role. He appears to be a hellfire-and-brimstone preacher spouting the manifest destiny doctrine. Other cast members currently announced include Dominique McElligott (Moon), Ben Essler (The Pacific), Eddie Spears (Into the West) and rapper Lonnie “Common” Lynn.

Check out the trailer below:

While we’ll reserve judgement until Hell On Wheels rides in later this year, it’s hard not to be excited about yet another AMC original. Considering that the network has lately nailed one period piece with Mad Men (to the tune of five seasons, no less) the action-oriented western promises to be engaging at the very least. Writer/producer duo Joe and Tony Gaton tackled contemporary gunslinging justice with Faster last year.

A Reconstruction-era drama with a sympathetic Confederate for a lead is a gutsy move, accented  by making Bohannon’s late wife’s attackers Union soldiers. Aside from the sheer novelty (on television anyway) it should make for some interesting character development. The backdrop of the Transcontinental Railroad and manifest rhetoric will allow for a critical look at America’s western expansion.

AMC was quick to point out its western heritage with 2006 miniseries Broken Trail. “AMC’s commitment to the Western is long-standing, and the genre is an important part of our brand and history as a channel,” said president Charlie Collier.

Hell On Wheels has been given a 10-episode order for its first season, and is set to start filming in Canada next week. AMC is advertising a late 2011 premiere.

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Source: The Hollywood Reporter