Now that television has become the new form of Hollywood, with an increasing number of big screen stars and creative minds making the jump to episodic storytelling in recent years, it's almost easier to point out which film favorites have not done it. Joel and Ethan Coen have been on the "not" side for a long time now, but that all reportedly changes with the The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, an in-development limited series within a genre the brothers know quite well: the Western. As if "Buster Scruggs" could exist in anything else.
While early details on the project aren't plentiful, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs sounds like it'll be more True Grit than No Country for Old Men, with the project set to center in the Old West. Joel and Ethan Coen apparently already wrote the western drama from an original idea they created, according to Variety, and they will direct the entire project for Annapurna Television, lest anyone start to worry that this was a pilot-only endeavor for the Oscar-winning duo, or an executive producer cred, as it goes with FX's Fargo.
It will also be an anthology piece, if this early report is accurate, with six different storylines being intertwined. It's possible/probable the idea was initially considered for a feature, but then sprawled out and got too big and complicated for just one movie. I assume each episode would center on a specific character or characters, with elements from other episodes being introduced. Otherwise, I don't know how the intertwined-ness of the anthology aspect would work. Not that it matters, as all trust is in the Coens to deliver the goods.
Interestingly, this new project for the Coen brothers might not solely exist as part of the TV medium. The storyline is apparently such that Annapurna is interested in potentially making it both televised and theatrical in some form, with the long-in-the-making Dark Tower's adaptation process serving as a point of comparison. Without knowing what the story looks like, it's hard to guess how such a plan would play out, but if there's a way to fix the universe so that we can watch a new Coens-directed film in theaters and then go home to watch a new episode of their TV show, that would be way cooler than the Eagles, man.
Since everything is just getting going for The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, no network has been locked down just yet, but I have to imagine a bidding war is imminent. Joel and Ethan Coen's last film, Hail Caesar!, was a big and glorious musical comedy honoring the glory days of Hollywood, so it makes sense that they'd want to get their hands dirty for the follow-up project. And dark dramas are where the critics and awards organizations heap their praise on the siblings, so expect HBO, Netflix, Starz and more to stand in line to negotiate.
All that, and we didn't even talk about what kind of cast this show will have, but that's because we would be here for weeks. So while we wait to hear more about this exciting new show, head to our midseason premiere schedule to see everything that is confirmed to appear in the coming months.