For decades Westerns were the most popular television genre in the United States. Stories of the lone cowboy against the wild frontier captured the hearts and minds of viewers across the country. This theme would take shape in many forms over the years, particularly with Star Trek: The Original Series and its initial pitch being referred to as the "Wagon Train to the stars."
It wasn't until 1991 when pitches for Deep Space Nine were being tossed around that the idea for a Star Trek series with a western theme was brought up again. Originally described as "The Rifleman in Space," the idea was suggested by at the time Paramount Executive Brandon Tartikoff to co-creator Rick Berman.
In this version the setting was going to take place on a lone frontier outpost on a planet at the edge of known space. The Northern LA desert was a potential shooting location for the series as it had been for many other Trek scenes in the past. "We had the country doctor, and we had the barkeeper, and we had the sheriff and we had the mayor, we had it all, it was all there," said DS9 writer Robert Hewitt Wolfe when discussing the early western concept.
Unfortunately this idea would eventually be scrapped for budget concerns, primarily with the on-scene location shooting that would be required for the main setting. It was also decided that fans would rather see the series continue taking place in space, rather than just one planet.
Despite this early concept for Deep Space Nine being rejected, one does not have to look far to see the early western ideas that made it into the final cut. Much like a frontier town on the edge of civilization, the DS9 station itself took on a similar role being located at the edge of known space in the Gamma Quadrant. Captain Sisko and his son also fit the mold of The Rifleman, as a father and son arriving to a new and brimming frontier town.
What do you think about the idea for a cowboy trek series? Did they improve on the Deep Space Nine concept or should they revisit the idea again?
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