With Yellowstone as one of the reigning hits on television, it seems Amazon Prime Video wanted in on the modern western genre. Their new series, Outer Range, brings Josh Brolin to his first leading role on a TV show in 20 years. We've seen Brolin in a few westerns already like True Grit and No Country For Old Men and you can tell he looks right at home out in the wilderness in the series trailer.
It's a classic western tale of a cowboy defending his family but with some extra elements thrown in. There's some sci-fi, some mystery, and a bizarre tale of twists and turns that makes this series definitely seem worth watching. The show premieres on Amazon on April 15 and the first season will have two new episodes available every week.
Here's everything you need to know about Outer Range.
Who's behind the new western series?
Amazon Studio purchased first-time creator Brian Watkins' spec script of the pilot episode. At the time, Watkins was best known for his work as a playwright. After he developed the first season, Brad Pitt's production company Plan B Entertainment swept in to help produce the series. Josh Brolin is also the executive producer of the eight-episode first season.
The series is centered around Wyoming rancher Royal Abbott. He's a man giving off John Dutton vibes as he's determined to protect his land and family. He discovers a bizarre mystery at the edge of the wilderness which changes everything. It's a family saga with bits of humor as well as mystery, examining how people deal with the unknown.
The first episode establishes that the Abbott family is dealing with the disappearance of their daughter-in-law Rebecca. While dealing with that, they are also putting up with the Tillersons, their rival neighbors who want their 600 acres of land. When an untimely death occurs in the community, it sets off a chain reaction of events in the small town. Not to mention, a mysterious black void shows up on the Abbots' property that no one can explain. The series is already being called Yellowstone meets Lost, likely due to the mystery void giving off sci-fi vibes. Creator Brian Watkins explains that the idea was inspired by his Colorado upbringing and the vastness of the surrounding wilderness.
"I grew up in the West, where the show is set, and it's really a place where the unknown is everywhere you look," Watkins told Vanity Fair. "You can walk up to the edge of a forest and stare into the trees and feel you're at the threshold of another dimension."
While it's definitely a western, there are some interesting additional elements to Outer Range that set it apart from other shows. Even Josh Brolin thinks so.
"It took a very simple, straight-forward genre and then it took extraordinary twists, whether it be metaphysical or whatever you want to call it," Brolin told Variety at the show's premiere at Hollywood's Harmony Gold theater. "It's uncertain because there are so many directions it can go, and a lot of them can feel really cliché. But I feel like we kept it grounded."
Oscar nominee Josh Brolin plays Royal Abbott, the gruff cattleman who is doing his best to maintain his family and ranch. He's a true cowboy who just wants to defend his home but is kind of a skeptic when it comes to religion as well as that big hole out in his pasture.
"You have Yellowstone and the Western genre is back," Brolin said at Deadline's Contenders TV event, "and then everybody is trying to piggyback on that thing. I think what we've done is create a danger zone, and it doesn't feel safe."
Cecilia Abbott is the matriarch of the family and a true believer. She brings the family to church every Sunday and really embraces spirituality until she finds her faith seriously tested.
"It was my dream character--gun-toting, horse-riding, tough as nails--and I was like, 'Wait a minute. Is this really something that they want for me, or is this going straight to Nicole Kidman?'" Taylor joked with Vanity Fair. "I felt like she was in my wheelhouse, but it was the size of the role--the league. I was just surprised."
Perry Abbott is struggling to raise his daughter Amy (Olive Abercrombie) after the disappearance of his wife 9 months prior. He's the oldest, dutiful son, who is just trying to make life work as a single dad while working on the family ranch.
Rhett Abbott is the youngest Abbott son and a true rodeo cowboy whose dreams of bull riding might be coming to an end as he finds himself entangled with a new love interest, Maria. He also feels a strong pull towards religion like his mother.
Wayne Tillerson is the dangerous and crafty patriarch of the Abbots' neighboring ranch. He sends his surly sons over to the Abbott property to let Royal know he's made a legal claim on his land. Deirdre O'Connell co-stars as his wife Patricia, the embodiment of high-end Wyoming life.
Matt Lauria, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos
These three make up Wayne Tillerson's sons -- Trevor, Billy, and Luke, respectively. Trevor is the eldest, a workhouse with a bit of a temper he lets out on his neighbors. Luke is the middle son who runs the day-to-day operations on his family's ranch and is just as ruthless as his father. Billy, the youngest, is different from everyone else and can be a bit unsettling at times.
A mysterious hippie named Autumn shows up at the Abbott property to camp on their land. Her strange connection with Royal and his property ends up being one of the most interesting parts of the storyline.
"Being British I was really obsessed with the American west and the myth of the American west growing up," Poots said at Deadline's Contenders TV event, "so getting to be a part of it and deconstruct it, and have this otherworldly element was just a dream come true."
Podemski plays Deputy Sheriff Joy. She is the first queer Indigenous American woman to run for sheriff in the county which is something Podemski doesn't take lightly. She gets entangled in the mysteries surrounding the Abbott family.
"Sheriff Joy, to me, is the light in a very dark world," Podemski said at Deadline's Contenders TV event. "I was brought to this particularly because its a Western turned upside down, and I love the way that people are describing it as a Neo-Western because Hollywood isn't really known for its truthful depiction of Native Americans, so this was really attractive to me because we have a great opportunity to bring audiences a very different narrative."
Where was the series filmed?
Despite taking place in Wyoming, the series was filmed in Santa Fe. Despite some 2020 COVID-related delays, the cast and crew found themselves in New Mexico for filming at the worst time of year in 2021 because winter in Santa Fe is really cold. The good news is, everyone got really close, which I'm sure will be reflected in what we get to see in the series.
"We started in the dead of winter, which might not have been the smartest move," Brolin told Vanity Fair. "When we were doing nights, it was probably between eight and 12 degrees out. We were out in the middle of nowhere."
READ MORE: 'Billy the Kid': New Series Based on Life of the Western Outlaw to Debut in April
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