"Heigh-ho, Silver, away!" Black mask or no, that hunky, blond cowboy in The Lone Ranger — airing tonight at 8 pm/ET — looks mighty familiar. That's 'cause it's Chad Michael Murray, 21, from Gilmore Girls and Dawson's Creek! We notice he's become quite a staple on the Frog network...

"They invited me into the [WB] family," Murray tells TV Guide Online. "In 2000, I tested for a pilot called Day One, and I didn't get it, but they felt like they could develop me over at the network, so they gave me a deal."

And a sweet deal at that. Murray's latest Lone gig has him headlining an update of the classic 1950s Western. The two-hour TV movie — which could turn into a series if it lassoes good ratings — tells the tale of a mysterious, masked champion out to avenge his brother's death and fight injustice.

Of course, Murray's hero does all this on horseback. While the Buffalo, N.Y., native admits he'd never saddled up before the film, he found riding to be "like second nature. I picked it up really quick, and the next thing you know, I was riding up and down mountains in Santa Clarita, [Calif]. It's so fun and so peaceful."

Will the WB's hipster audience cotton to an old-fashioned Western? "I think they'll take an interest in the fact that it's a contemporary, younger version," Murray suggests. "I hope they respond to it."