Some TV viewers will be interested in Brian Watkins’ new drama “Outer Range” solely because it has Josh Brolin in a sci-fi western. Others, though, may require a little more background information or motivation, both of which “Outer Range” can supply.
Outer Range Throws Josh Brolin Into a Trippy Western That
The series, which premieres with two episodes on (Amazon) Prime Video on April 15, focuses on a particularly brooding Brolin as Royal Abbott, the brusque patriarch of a family ranch on a parcel of Wyoming land with a gaping secret.
Specifically, there is a large, dark area in the western part of the Abbotts’ ranch, the cause of which is a mystery but whose pulsing power is obvious to anybody who happens across it.
The pilot, directed by Alonso Ruizpalaicos with a sense of ominous foreboding, is dominated by the hole’s spectral presence.
(Its total blackness also seems to take over many of the show’s nighttime sequences, which are typically shot in such murky darkness that you might not be able to see what’s onscreen unless you’re viewing “Outer Range” with the use of heavy blackout curtains.)
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Royal, whose origins are unknown even to his wife Cecilia (Lili Taylor), feels a special pull towards the enigmatic location, which he condescendingly refers to as “a blank.” Royal, in a scene that brings out all the hellfire and brimstone and utter scorn Brolin has to offer, interrupts the dinner prayers to vehemently denounce it and the deity who may have brought it to his doorstep.
Royal spits, “I’m asking you to fill that vacuum” as his bewildered wife and boys Perry (Tom Pelphrey) and Rhett (Lewis Pullman) watch. I despise you, and I want you to come down here and explain yourself because something is off in your universe. I don’t think I fucking believe in you, but I fucking detest you. Amen.”
Not because they’re circling some unexplainable tear in the ground, but because of these kinds of situations, “Outer Range” succeeds. Character-wise, “Outer Range” is on par with “Yellowstone,” proving that a traditional Western with clearly defined family relationships can stand on its own as a successful film.
It efficiently and effectively establishes the loyalty of Royal to his family, the internal turmoil of Cecilia’s faith, Rhett’s hidden goals, and Perry’s need to understand the circumstances surrounding his wife’s absence.
Tamara Podemski’s performance as Joy, an indigenous officer trying to disentangle everything while campaigning for the top job of sheriff, provides a welcome counterpoint to the frantic energy of the men. Even if “Outer Range” were to add a supernatural element to each of these stories, it wouldn’t be necessary.
Hence, the series only makes effective use of the emptiness to lend its more earthbound themes (such as loss, isolation, faith, and longing) a real unease (thanks in no small part to Danny Bensi and Saunder Jurriaans’ jarring score).
Sometimes, especially when the Abbotts spend time chatting with their garish competitors, the Tillersons, the show even falls into a bizarre form of comedy that mixes up the story’s normally gloomy rhythms.
Wayne (Will Patton) and his kids Luke (Shaun Sipos) and Billy (Noah Reid of “Schitt’s Creek,” complete with randomly sung versions of famous songs) of the Tillerson ranch embrace the strangeness that is seeping into their own life in the show “Outer Range,” which airs occasionally.
The point at which “Outer Range” begins to lose its footing is when it begins to get bogged down in the mythology of the void, which is symbolised by a single character who arrives at the Abbott ranch and promptly begins wreaking havoc.
“Autumn Rivers” (Imogen Poots) is one of those strong and beautiful woman figures obviously designed to haunt men, or else push them into doing her own bidding, as you would have guessed from her deliberately unusual name. She’s a little bit weird and wild, or as these cowboys may put it, she’s untamable.
She’s also a Manic Pixie Nightmare Girl, a trope this TV critic is sick of using yet keeps needing to describe characters who are intended to be subversive but instead come out as completely cliché. Despite Poots’ best efforts, most of the episodes’ plots suffer once Autumn is in the spotlight.
Another interesting female character would have been welcome in “Outer Range,” but not in this form. It would be better if this pivotal character was less of a maddening bore if the programme were to continue its downward spiral into the abyss, as the last few episodes strongly imply it will.
Overview of “Outer Range”
“Outer Range” is a television series that pushes the boundaries of traditional Westerns by incorporating elements of science fiction and psychological thriller.
Starring Josh Brolin, the show is set against the backdrop of a Wyoming ranch and follows the story of the Abbott family as they encounter unexplainable and mysterious events that challenge their understanding of reality.
The Plot: A Mixture of Western Grit and Sci-Fi Mystery
The series revolves around Royal Abbott (played by Josh Brolin), a rancher who discovers an inexplicable and mysterious void on his land. The plot thickens as the Abbott family grapples with this anomaly alongside personal tragedies, rivalries, and the arrival of a mysterious stranger.
The show masterfully weaves elements of time, space, and existential queries into the rugged landscape of the American West.
Key Themes and Elements
“Outer Range” stands out for its exploration of themes such as family, legacy, and survival, while also delving into more complex concepts like time travel and parallel universes. The series challenges viewers’ perceptions of reality, making it a thought-provoking experience.
Cast and Characters
Josh Brolin’s portrayal of Royal Abbott is a central pillar of the series, bringing depth and complexity to the character. The cast includes an array of talented actors who contribute to the multi-layered narrative, each adding their own nuances to the story.
Cinematography and Visuals
The cinematography of “Outer Range” is a highlight, capturing the vast and untamed beauty of the Western landscape while juxtaposing it with surreal and otherworldly elements. The visual storytelling is both grounding and disorienting, contributing to the show’s trippy and mysterious atmosphere.
Reception and Impact
“Outer Range” has garnered attention for its unique genre-blending approach, earning praise for its originality, storytelling, and performances, particularly Josh Brolin’s. The show appeals to a wide range of audiences, from Western enthusiasts to sci-fi fans, and has sparked discussions and theories among viewers.
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“Outer Range” is a bold and innovative series that redefines the boundaries of genre television. Josh Brolin’s performance, coupled with the show’s intriguing plot and stunning visuals, makes it a standout series.
The blend of Western elements with sci-fi and psychological thriller components creates a captivating and mind-bending experience. As the series progresses, it continues to unravel its mysteries, keeping audiences hooked and eagerly anticipating what lies beyond the void.
Whether you’re a fan of traditional Westerns or drawn to the mysteries of science fiction, “Outer Range” offers a unique and immersive viewing experience.