In this wild, lawless pilot-buying season, the networks have thrown a lasso around any show that has a vague Western premise, rounding up a half-dozen series like AMC’s Hell On Wheels, TNT’s Gateway, A&E’s Longmire, CBS’ Ralph Lamb, ABC’s Hangtown, and an untitled pitch from Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg and Liz Heldens, then setting them loose to see which one stomps and kicks its way to the top of the Western revival that TV executives insist we’re having despite box-office evidence to the contrary. Into that dust cloud steps a shadowy figure with his own tall tale to spin: Will And Grace’s Sean Hayes—a rough-and-tumble man so mean, he once bit a rattlesnake for comparing Adler & Ross to Sondheim—who’s producing yet another NBC-based Western project with yet another Friday Night Lights writer, Kerry Ehrin.
According to Deadline, Hayes’ Hazy Mills production company is developing the 1880s-set dramedy about a “young, eccentric East Coast doctor” who moves to the Colorado Rockies, surviving the Wild West by using his snooty East Coast intellect instead of a six-shooter. And if that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s a slightly more comic spin on almost the exact same premise as the Ronald D. Moore-produced Hangtown, which suggests this new Western revival genre has already begun recycling ideas before any of them have actually been developed yet. Of course, it also sort of sounds like a Wild West version of Northern Exposure, with less quirky New Age philosophizing and more dying of dysentery.