All eight episodes of ‘Outer Range: Season One’ are available on Amazon Prime Video right now.
I don’t think I watch enough Amazon Prime Video shows. Sure, I watch their biggest series and select lesser shows, but I still feel like I often overlook some of their lesser-known output. Brian Watkins’ Outer Range seemed destined to end up as a show I had heard about but which hadn’t caught my eye for whatever reason. But after watching a Late Show with Stephen Colbert interview with the show’s lead actor Josh Brolin, who I am a big fan of, my interest was piqued. Their description of the show had sold it to me, and I’m glad I watched it, even though it’s a difficult show to communicate to others without spoiling too much.
Best described as a science-fiction neo-western, Outer Range will lose some people the moment they find out it’s mostly a show about a family, their ranch, a rival ranch-owner, and that it features several scenes at a bull-riding contest. However, I promise that it isn’t as plain as it sounds. The show follows the ranch-owning Abbott family which is spearheaded by their patriarch Royal (played by Josh Brolin) — a husband, father, and grandfather — who is in a bitter rivalry with the Tillerson family, who wants to take over their land.
Royal also has a secret. He has found a mysterious spellbinding and possibly transportive black void in their pasture that he has a strong connection to. But he isn’t the only one, though. Soon a drifter, Autumn (played by Imogen Poots), stops by and asks to stay on the Abbott family land, and she seems to know more about the void than Royal does.
As it consists of a lot of characters, Outer Range is full of plenty of subplots of varying interest. The show has romance, crime, mystery, science-fiction, and even the supernatural. But these sci-fi and supernatural elements are slow to reveal themselves and only do so gradually. When they do, though, the show completely had its hooks into me. The black void is a mysterious thing and some of its surprises were jaw-dropping, to me.
That said, I thought the secret identity of one individual was very predictable from the moment I first saw them interact with other characters. Furthermore, it should also be said that not all of the show’s subplots are as interesting as the main mystery, with some of them barely holding my interest (I struggled with the subplots involving the Tillerson family).
Still, I think the show really works. If the black void is what gets the show’s hooks into you, then it is the strong central performances that kept me watching episode-to-episode. Josh Brolin is especially good here. It’s a role that feels written for him. I especially love how he handles his lengthy existential monologues. I also think Lili Taylor is quite good here. Though not quite a must-watch show, I think this is the kind of show that a lot of people don’t know is for them. It’s this peculiar genre blend that worked really well for me, even though one or two characters eventually became a little bit too strange for me towards the end (the singing cowboy and his lover).
– Review Written by Jeffrey Rex Bertelsen.