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Martian Law | The Story of Ben Browder’s Lost 1997 Space Western

Before Firefly and Farscape there was Martian Law – A. Martinez and Ben Browder took on David Carradine to bring justice to the lawless surface of Mars.

Despite the clear influence of the old west on popular science fiction stretching back to the listless Civil War veteran John Carter in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ A Princess of Mars, actually setting out to make a dedicated space Western – as opposed to a space opera influenced by Westerns – was altogether less common.

This dual heritage can now be seen running through the poncho-clad likes of The Mandolorian, Cowboy Bebop, Defiance, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and others, but 25 years ago – when Firefly was still a sepia glint in Joss Whedon’s eye – executive producer Richard C. Okie, a veteran of Quantum Leap and Earth: Final Conflict, and writer Herbert J. Wright, a regular contributor Star Trek: The Next Generation, birthed Martian Law.

The pilot episode, which never made it to series and – according to rumor – received a hastily edited TV movie treatment in 1998, gathered up a Magnificent Seven of talent both on and off-camera, took over the Old West set at Universal Studios, and dusted the heart of John Ford country in Utah with a deep red Martian glow. Every detail is wilder than the last as Kung Fu’s David Carradine and Candyman’s Tony Todd joined the future stars of Farscape and Roswell, under the watchful eye of a British wild child of cult horror.

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