AMC Orders Western Drama From Reality-Show Powerhouse

AMC's original programming slate is nothing if not diverse, with '60s period drama Mad Men, drug drama Breaking Bad, political thriller Rubicon, horror adaptation The Walking Dead and murder mystery The Killing. Now add to that list the Western Hell On Wheels.

Deadline reports the cable network has greenlighted a pilot for the series, which revolves around the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad during the 1860s, a massive nation-changing project fraught with danger, corruption, racism, exploitation and political scandal. (The phrase "Hell On Wheels" originally was used to describe the ramshackle assemblage of saloons, brothels and gambling houses that followed the Union Pacific workers West as they built the railroad.) In short, it has all the makings of an engaging Western.

As potentially compelling as the setting may be, though, there are at least two significant reasons to be wary: The series is produced by Endemol USA, best known for reality shows like Big Brother, Fear Factor and Gay, Straight or Taken?, and created by brothers Joe and Tony Gayton, best known for writing Bulletproof, The Shepherd: Border Patrol and Faster -- starring vehicles for Damon Wayans, Adam Sandler, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dwayne Johnson. So, yeah, there's that.

However, The Prisoner remake aside, AMC has demonstrated excellent judgment in its (granted) limited history of original programming. So there's a possibility the network could launch the next Deadwood -- or, alternately, the next Young Riders.

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