Outer Range – Prime Video’s latest attempt at original, prestige television – premieres on the streaming service this Friday, April 15th. I got an early look at the world-bending, western sci-fi series that stars Josh Brolin. Let me just tell you this right here, right now: we got a BANGER on our hands.
If you take away nothing else from this review, know that Outer Range is worth your time as it releases over the next 4 weeks. (Season 1 is 8 episodes in total and Amazon will release 2 at a time.)
Obviously, since the show isn’t out yet, this article will have no spoilers. Really, my whole aim here is to invite you on this delightfully weird journey westward into the void with me and Josh Brolin. Come now, friend. Let me answer some of your questions.
What the Hell is Outer Range?
Amazon’s synopsis of the series reads: “Outer Range centers on Royal Abbott (Josh Brolin), a rancher fighting for his land and family, who discovers an unfathomable mystery at the edge of Wyoming’s wilderness. A thrilling fable with hints of wry humor and supernatural mystery, Outer Range examines how we grapple with the unknown.”
To give a little more detail, Brolin’s Royal Abbott and his family find themselves in a heated legal battle with their neighbors the Tillersons – led by their patriarch Will Patton. A legal battle they are very likely to lose. All this is complicated by Abbott’s recent discovery of a portal to another dimension on the disputed land.
Now Royal must protect his family’s land while trying to get to the bottom of this whole hole situation.
Who made this?
The new series was created/written by Brian Watkins, a Brooklyn-based former playwright making his first foray into television. The show was produced by Plan B Entertainment, aka Brad Pitt’s award winning studio (The Departed, 12 Years a Slave, Moonlight).
Outer Range is Josh Brolin’s first leading tv role since 2003’s Mister Sterling. This is also Brolin’s first time receiving an Executive Producer credit. The rest of the cast includes the likes of Lili Taylor, Tom Pelphrey, Tamara Podemski, Lewis Pullman, Noah Reid, Shaun Sipos and the adorable Olive Abercrombie.
Why should you watch?
Outer Range certainly feels familiar, but it’s hard to narrow down exactly what’s happening here. The show is clearly inspired by other popular, modern-day Western meets sci-fi tv that’s been trending of late. Think Westworld, Wynonna Earp, etc. But where those shows rely on thrilling battles between humans and robots or zombie outlaws, Outer Range’s central sci-fi mystery – at least to this point – does not.
The mystery of the hole in the ground is one piece of an otherwise down-to-earth, well-acted rivalry between families. Josh Brolin and his sons have real beef with the neighbors over property rights, inheritance, and land ownership. A dynamic that feels closer to shows like HBO’s hit Succession, TNT’s Dallas revival from a decade ago, The CW’s popular revival of Dynasty, or even the Hatfields & McCoys mini series from History Channel.
The show is thrilling and tense on its more traditional merits even before you get into the sci-fi. The cast each deliver outstanding performances that will make you love or hate their characters immediately. The music, cinematography and the magic of Josh Brolin’s voice create an atmosphere that’s tense and claustrophobic, even in the wide open expanses of Wyoming ranch country.
The show greatly benefits from the wild card of Imogen Poots (The Father, The Art of Self-Defense, Green Room), her character Autumn, and her potential connection to the central mystery. You can tell immediately from Autumn’s rich granola girl vibes when she first appears that she doesn’t belong here. But Poots’s acting lends a type of sinister creepiness to the character that fills all of her scenes with tension. Her voice, her eyes, her body movements, everything about her screams “stranger danger”. But it looks like Royal will need her to unlock the mystery of the big hole. Buddy, I can not wait.
Small point deductions
The show isn’t quite perfect so far. I have one very small knock keeping it from an A+. It’s the eccentric way that Will Patton plays Royal’s main rival Wayne Tillerson. Obviously your mileage may vary. But for me, his character is the only one to this point that doesn’t feel a part of the world Outer Range has built. Maybe that’ll change in the coming weeks.
I’m excited to find out.
Episode 1 & 2 Final Grade:
Recommendation: Watch this shit, family.
Follow me, Dex Hinton, on Twitter @LordDexHinton and you can follow Apollo Media’s brand new official Movies/Pop Culture account @WatchWithApollo on Twitter as well. Additionally, I will be continuing my review coverage for Outer Range throughout the season, so stay tuned to our Pop Culture page for more. Check out our recent reviews:
Ambulance by @roydenogletree
Mothering Sunday by Me, ya boy
X by @harrelsongarrett
Thanks for reading and as always, #SupportFlorencePugh.