By Bennett Owen
Chuck Connors as Lucas McCain, The Rifleman, Credit: theuglybug
Oh my God! This is too good to be true! Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, The Rifleman is returning to a home entertainment system (AKA boob tube) near you! CBS is working on a reboot of the original hit that made Chuck Conners a household name in the early 60s:
By the way, the original was produced by Hollywood legend Sam Peckinpah…he knew a thing or two about box office appeal.
But as the LA Times reports, Rifleman is just the tip of the iceberg, as Tinseltown recognizes the blowout success of True Grit, 3:10 to Yuma, HBO’s Deadwood and the solid current performance of Hell on Wheels on AMC.
Quoting the Times: “the timing may be right for a revival of a genre that glorifies open spaces, opportunity and rough individualism, industry watchers say.”
But the new generation of westerns won’t be the classic good guy/bad guy 1950/60s fare. CBS is reportedly also developing a show about a cowboy cop in 1950s Las Vegas.
NBC is said to be working on two western sagas including one told from a female perspective.
ABC has given the go-ahead to two series’ tentatively entitled ‘Hangtown’ and ‘Gunslinger.’
Hangtown is intriguing…described as ‘Tombstone meets Castle,’ it centers on the crime fighting teamwork of a traditional Marshall…an East Coast forensic physician…and a female pulp fiction writer. Creator Ron Moore (Battlestar Galactica) describes it as, “a broad adventure with a high fun quotient.”
Fox is developing a series revolving around the legendary Wyatt Earp. And Ron Howard is putting together an HBO series with Doc Holliday as the main character.
Wyatt Earp. Credit: kpbs and the Craig Foults Collection
A&E may soon give the go-ahead to "Longmire," about a widowed sheriff in Wyoming. Goodness me, the list is long and irresistible.
The Times warns us to expect a high body count in the new offerings, with a premium on authenticity. As one studio exec puts it, "These stories are distinctly American, and they're timeless. I think audiences are looking for something clear-cut and unambiguous."
And let’s face it you can’t get any more unambiguous than the Rifleman.