Battlestar Galactica showrunner Ronald D. Moore is branching out into new frontiers, and one of the most exciting is ABC’s western, Hangtown. Combining elements of classic 60s/70s westerns and modern procedural crime shows, the project is in its early stages of development.
Hangtown centers around three main characters. The first is a classic “white hat” marshal charged with keeping the peace in the small town. The second is an East Coast doctor who prefers to use crime scene investigation techniques to find culprits. The last member of the main cast is probably the most interesting: a female writer selling pulp stories about wild west crime to big-city publishers (kind of like a 19th-century Richard Castle). Like dusty musketeers, the three combine their talents to keep their small turn-of-the-century town safe and accomplish their own goals.
The show is in the earliest stages of development at the moment. Moore’s overall deal with Sony Pictures Television has the studio producing the potential new series, with Caprica writer Matthew Roberts penning the pilot. No actors have been signed as of yet.
It’s been tough going for Moore since Caprica fizzled on Syfy. The promising cops and wizards pilot 17th Precinct was declined by NBC in pilot season, and the fate of his more traditional Coast Guard project The McCulloch is unknown. CBS has Moore working on a reboot of The Wild Wild West (the 60s TV show, not the Will Smith movie) but that project is also extremely early in development.
Westerns seem to be on the precipice of a TV renaissance. Deadwood remains one of HBO’s most favored original series even five years after its untimely cancellation, and you can still catch reruns most weekends. AMC is augmenting its top-notch programming block with railroad drama Hell On Wheels, scheduled to debut this November. And FX’s Justified (which fits broadly into the category) has experienced rave reviews and multiple Emmy nominations. Deadline notes a previous pilot project from ABC, Gunslinger from ER writer/producer David Zebel. ABC is developing that one in-house. TNT is looking for a slice of the western pie with Gateway, a Colorado crime drama from Band of Brothers writer Bruce C. McKenna.
Hangtown is in the development stage right now – expect more news about this and other western TV shows in the next few months.
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