Back in the late 1950s, television’s primetime schedule was dominated by cowboys. For the 1959-60 season, 11 of the top 20 shows were Westerns. One of those was The Rifleman. Though today’s schedule is dominated by procedurals, CBS wants to try reviving the classic Chuck Connors series.
The network has signed Laeta Kalogridis (NBC’s ill-fated Bionic Woman remake) and Patrick Lussier to a script deal to attempt to re-launch the show. Harry Potter director Chris Columbus is on board to direct the pilot episode if it gets a greenlight. He’ll executive produce along with Carol Mendelsohn, Julie Weitz, and the writers.
The Rifleman ran for five seasons and 169 black and white episodes on ABC, from 1958 until 1963. It was a top-rated show for only the first couple seasons and later became a staple in syndication. AMC currently airs episodes on weekends.
Created by Sam Peckinpah, the series is set in New Mexico and stars Connors as a tough-as-nails rancher and Civil War hero named Lucas McCain. A widower, he’s a single father to young Mark (Johnny Crawford) and a crack shot who only breaks out his Winchester rifle when absolutely necessary.
What do you think? Do you think the time is right for a Western series in primetime? Are you interested in a new version of The Rifleman or would you prefer to see a completely new idea?