Firefly's gone, but are sci-fi westerns on their way back?

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Dec 14, 2012, 4:09 PM EST

Are we on the cusp of a new wave of sci-fi westerns? Years after the premature demise of TV's The Adventures of Brisco County Jr. and Firefly suggested that viewers didn't much like mixing horseplay with spaceships, now comes news that Chuck executive producer Scott Rosenbaum is developing an as-yet-untitled sci-fi oater for the Fox broadcasting network.

The news comes on the heels of reports that Star Trek/Fringe producers/writers Roberto Orci and Alex Kurtzman are developing a Cowboys & Aliens movie and that frequent Orci/Kurtzman collaborator J.J. Abrams and his Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof are developing a movie based on Stephen King's The Dark Tower.

Here's how The Hollywood Reporter describes Rosenbaum's proposed sci-fi western TV pilot:

The untitled project, from Warner Bros. TV and McG's studio-based Wonderland Sound and Vision, has landed a script commitment with a significant penalty.

Described as an epic Western with a sci-fi twist, the show will revolve around "a gunslinger caught between worlds" and will feature a nod to Planet of the Apes, said Rosenbaum, who is executive producing with Wonderland's McG and Peter Johnson.

"What I'm really interested in is the revamping of the Western genre where you still have all of the iconic Western themes and iconic Western tropes but the idea is that it will feel incredibly contemporary and will introduce the Western to a whole new generation," Rosenbaum said.

Isn't that kind of what Joss Whedon was attempting in the short-lived but much-loved (at least by a hard-core coterie of Browncoats) Firefly and its film spinoff, Serenity?

Of course, all involved have great track records: NBC's Chuck is a nearly irresistible mashup of romance, slacker comedy and the spy genre. Wonderland is also behind The CW's creepy sexy Supernatural and Fox's upcoming comic-based Human Target, which we also liked a lot. Stay tuned!