Quantum Leap actor Scott Bakula has been announced to star in an upcoming NBC pilot called Unbroken. And while we are not throwing any shade here, the premise of the show sounds like it has more than a passing similarity to the Paramount mega-hit series Yellowstone. In the new show, Bakula will be playing the patriarch of a ranch that has been in his family for generations, battling against enemies old and new as they threaten his livelihood and legacy. There probably will be a lot of horses, middle-aged men wearing cowboy hats and staring grimly at horizons, and a lot of soap opera-style plots. While Bakula’s show does not indicate whether his character will be named something like “Don Jutton,” it does not seem all that unlikely either.
To be fair, Scott Bakula’s imitation is well known as the sincerest form of flattery. Yellowstone is one of the most popular shows in the world currently. It revived the career of Kevin Costner as a lead actor (and his passion for Western roles) and turned Sons of Anarchy actor/ Yellowstone creator into a mega-producer. Since he is currently spinning off Yellowstone-related prequels and sidestories at a manic pace, it is no surprise that other networks are going to eventually try to latch onto the “troubled ranch dynasty” concept and ride it for all it is worth. It would actually be much stranger if we do not see the enormous success of Yellowstone eventually begin dominating prime time television, especially as it only is rising in viewership and beginning to get awards buzz.
Of course, while others are trying their best to latch onto the concepts that have made Taylor Sheridan the great future hope of Paramount Studios, he is busily coming up with riffs on his own hyper-masculine mini-genre. The Paramount+ streaming platform is quickly becoming the Taylor Sheridan database, with upcoming shows announced starring Billy Bob Thornton and Zoe Saldana. Scott Bakula’s Unbroken pilot is by Shaun Cassidy, who in addition to his acting and musical career, has become a prolific producer. Cassidy was behind the NBC medical drama New Amsterdam, and was a consulting producer on Blue Bloods, another incredibly popular drama about serious men making serious decisions.
Granted, Scott Bakula is currently only signed on for a pilot from Unbroken. It will remain to be seen whether NBC picks up the show for a full series, but with Shaun Cassidy and a TV veteran like Bakula, it seems likely. Bakula is best known for his starring role on the cult science fiction show Quantum Leap, which is currently being rebooted without his involvement. However, the once and maybe future Dr. Sam Beckett has indicated his willingness to appear on the new show in some capacity. Since Quantum Leap, Bakula has starred in television shows as varied as the dramedy Men of a Certain Age with Ray Romano and Andre Braugher, the procedural NCIS: New Orleans, and Star Trek: Enterprise. He recently has spoken up about Enterprise being something of the black sheep of the Star Trek franchise, but with a career as long as his, he really does not have anything to worry about. Even if Unbroken doesn’t get picked up, he’ll be on a Taylor Sheridan show eventually.