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Hart of Dixie star Wilson Bethel is at it again.
After a successful run on digital platform CW Seed with ’90s-era breakdance/hip-hop comedy Stupid Hype in 2012, Bethel is readying the launch of his second series — and this time, it’s inspired by his love of film. L.A. Rangers, premiering March 26 on CW Seed, reteams Bethel with writing/producing partner Dugan O’Neal and stars the two as aspiring (translation: naive and delusional) filmmakers, whose dreams are to be “the next Martin Scorseses,” moonlighting as park rangers in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park. Unfulfilled by their boring lives, the pair transport themselves to various genres via their imaginations. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively debuts the first poster (see below) and trailer, set to Son of Stan’s “Sadie” (watch above).
“We loved the idea of doing something that pays homage to cinema, so that was kind of the idea — to do something reverential of cinema in many different kinds of genres, styles and directors that we love, but in a fun, different kind of way,” Bethel tells THR.
Consisting of seven installments, each with a run time of about 10 minutes, L.A. Rangers pays homage to movies and genres Bethel and O’Neal “were particularly attached to,” such as Westerns (Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon a Time in the West), sci-fi (Children of Men), The Princess Bride, Quentin Tarantino, Apocalypse Now and Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki. As such, every episode “has very strong different visual tones,” says Bethel, who credits cinematographer Eduardo Mayen for playing a significant role. But the most challenging to get right was unsurprisingly the Miyazaki episode, set mostly in an animated world. “That one was really tough but probably the most fun. For both [Dugan] and I, it was our favorite episode,” he says.
The minute-long trailer provides a good preview of the shenanigans the duo experiences and Bethel is aware that the series requires viewers to take a leap of faith due to its surrealistic approach, promising a coherent arc in each. “In every case there is a through-line, it’s not just random, although sometimes the through-lines are a little bit ridiculous,” Bethel says with a laugh. “The idea is that whatever situation is presented in reality is somehow addressed in fantasy world.”
Though L.A. Rangers is days away from its debut, Bethel already has hopes of exploring other genres like noir, found-footage and horror in a potential second run. (Bethel indicated that he and O’Neal “will almost certainly be doing another web series” for CW Seed; whether that means revisiting the L.A. Rangers or Stupid Hype universes, or “doing a completely new thing,” remains to be seen.) “The beauty of it is, because we hope to continue with the series, the possibilities are as vast as the cannon of films that have ever been made,” he says.
Bethel and O’Neal are also toying with potentially repackaging L.A. Rangers for television, pointing to web series-turned-Adult Swim staple Children’s Hospital as their blueprint. (Fox is among the networks also more seriously looking to the web as a hub for talent and projects, in January inking a development deal with comedy group The Lonely Island, of which Saturday Night Live alum and Brooklyn Nine-Nine star Andy Samberg is a member.) “If we could do that with L.A. Rangers, we’d be thrilled,” Bethel says.
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