With NBC, ABC and TNT all prepping westerns for the next season – chasing AMC’s Hell on Wheels – FOX has followed suit, snagging an old west drama series centering on famed lawman Wyatt Earp produced by Fringe creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci.
The brainchild of writer John Hlavin (The Shield, Underworld Awakening), the series will reportedly venture deeper into Earp’s life – chronicling the attempts made by Wyatt and the brothers Earp to bring law and order to the untamed west. More importantly, the program will move beyond aspects such as the now legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which has been covered in films like John Ford’s My Darling Clementine, the Kevin Costner-led Wyatt Earp and Tombstone with Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer.
Given that the legend of Wyatt Earp has somewhat overshadowed the fact that he was not a fictional character, the question of what angle Hlavin plans to take on Earp will matter greatly to fans of the genre – and those looking for a more unique take on a character who has appeared in films and television for more than 80 years.
One intriguing premise might be to utilize material such as Steve Gatto’s book The Real Wyatt Earp: A Documentary Biography, which was published in 2000, and the 1928 book Helldorado: Bringing Law to the Mesquite. Both refute many of the claims that Earp was simply a fearless lawman, and suggest that Wyatt and his brothers also spent a great deal of time as cattle rustlers, thieves, pimps and murderers.
Including this grey area in the legend of Wyatt Earp would certainly make the program less derivative, and help to distinguish it amongst the throngs of similar programs like Ronald D. Moore’s Hangtown and TNT’s Gateway.
The western series would be a return to a genre recently made familiar to Kurtzman and Orci, who wrote the script for this summer’s sci-fi western mash up: Cowboys & Aliens. In addition to producing this proposed series, the duo will be keeping busy with duties on their other television endeavors, which include a proposed congressional drama at CBS, the aforementioned Fringe and the second season of Hawaii Five-0. On top of all that, Kurtzman and Orci still have the script for the sequel to J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot – which the director recently confirmed would be his follow up to this summer’s critically praised Super 8.
Most interestingly, though, the presumed-dead adaptation of Joe Hill’s Locke & Key comic, which the duo had set up at FOX, has been rumored to be on life support at MTV. At present, there has been no official word from anyone involved in the series, however.
Screen Rant will be sure to report as more news on the Wyatt Earp series develops, as well as keep you updated as the western genre war heats up between the networks.