AMC has had some trouble finding worthy heirs to its dramas Breaking Bad and Mad Men, and while The Walking Dead continues to be the most-watched scripted series on television, many fans are growing tired of its redundancies and purposefully slow pacing and are starting to quit. What’s a formerly prestigious network to do? Commission a sprawling Western epic based on a New York Times bestselling novel? Seems reasonable!
The series is The Son (based on Philipp Meyer‘s book), and it’s a multi-generational story of a Texas tycoon, Eli McCullough (Pierce Brosnan), who “breaks bad” after his difficult youth and becomes ruthless in his quest for power. It’s a little bit Dynasty, a little bit Giant, and a little bit of every one of AMC’s male anti-hero dramas of the past. Instead of being aggressively anti-Native American, though, The Son will at least also tell the story of young Eli who was raised by Comanches after his family was slaughtered. (Of note: his younger self will be played by Jacob Lofland, who was a stand-out in Mud). The saga will continue with the tale of Eli’s beloved granddaughter, who ends up being the powerful CEO of an oil company.
All of this sounds good, but none of it sounds particularly new from a narrative perspective. It remains to be seen if the series will find a way to make itself distinct in a TV landscape that has never been more crowded, especially since we’ve seen so many of these kinds of sprawling historical epics (of varying quality) from History and A&E in the past few years. But I proceed with cautious optimism, because I do love a good Western.
The series was co-created by showrunner Kevin Meyer (Defiance) along with Hemlock Grove‘s Brian McGreevy and Lee Shipman. Tom Harper (War & Peace, Peaky Blinders) is set to direct (which is a very fine choice). The cast also includes Henry Garrett (Beauty and the Beast), Paola Nunez (Amor en Custodia), Carlos Bardem (Assassin’s Creed), Zahn McClarnon (Fargo), Jess Weixler (The Good Wife), David Wilson Barnes (The Bourne Legacy), Sydney Lucas (Fun Home), James Parks (The Hateful Eight) and Elizabeth Frances (Love).
The Son will premiere in the spring of 2017; here’s the official synopsis, and you can check out more of the first images below:
The ten-episode, one-hour drama traces the transformation of Eli McCullough (Brosnan) from good-natured innocent to calculating killer. He loses everything on the wild frontier, setting him on the path to building a ranching-and-oil dynasty of unsurpassed wealth and privilege. The series deftly explores how Eli’s ruthlessness and quest for power triggers consequences that span generations, as the McCullough’s rise to become one the most powerful family dynasties in Texas.