Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Pilot Review: Lone Star

Lone Star (FOX)
Premiered September 20 at 9pm

A TV show about a man who lives two lives. Reader Charlie pointed out to me that some that this might be reminiscent of the short-lived Christian Slater series from fall 2008, “My Own Worst Enemy.” In that case, there was technology to make it so that regular guy Henry wasn’t even aware that spy Edward existed. On FOX’s new drama, however, Robert Allen is a con man who lives two lives without any technological or supernatural existence. He is literally dating more than one person and possesses multiple wallets, cell phones, and whatever else he needs to ensure that his covers are intact. As a premise, it’s a cool idea, though actually buying its sustainability is a bit more of a stretch. It’s clear from the premiere that an inequitable emphasis is going to be put on one of Bob’s lives (partially due to the casting of heavyweight Jon Voight as his father-in-law), which makes the other one seem trivial and like a distraction. The show is clever enough about revealing its ruse, taking the very gregarious and smiley Bob from one of his homes to the other, showing just how easily and seamlessly he does it. Once the jig is up (for viewers, at least), the show seems to settle into a sort of normalcy that has people in both communities putting way too much trust in Bob, while others are curious enough to start digging but don’t seem to hit anything even though they really should based on the extent of his duplicity. I don’t like James Wolk as Bob since he seems way too genuinely likeable to actually pull off a con like this, and casting hard hat David Keith as his speech-spewing father doesn’t help matters much. Voight has seen much better days, and there isn’t really a standout in the cast. The show seems like a difficult idea to sustain week-to-week, and this pilot didn’t wow me at all. It wasn’t overly boring, but if the new season provides more enticing shows, I could drop this one just as quickly as Bob might run from danger in the middle of a con gone sour.

How will it work as a series? This is an entirely week-to-week series rather than a show where one episode isn’t overly significant, and, as mentioned above, it seems to be that more than one person would be on to Bob by now, especially his wife’s brothers who seem so intent on taking him down and reclaiming what’s rightfully theirs. The presence of his father should prove nothing more than a distraction, and I fear that this show will quickly lose its footing.
How long will it last? It’s been touted as one of the most anticipated new shows of the fall, and the concept is appealing to many, so I assume it should be a good series for FOX to get started on now that some of its other serialized shows like “24” have gone off the air. Unfortunately, going up against NBC’s “The Event” and “Two and a Half Men” proved to be a bad idea in week one, so this show’s future may be bleak unless strong reviews can help it proceed along. I think it should be okay for the rest of the season, though not much longer, I’d estimate.

Pilot grade: C+


Greg Boyd said...

I agree I'm a bit worried about the show's long-term prospects, both in terms of its sustainability and its number of viewers. Going up against "The Event" certainly doesn't help matters. I flat-out loved the pilot, though. I thought it was extremely tight and well-written, particularly the last five minutes, which were ingenious. As for the acting, the fact that Wolk's so likeable goes a long way towards explaining why these people trust him so much. One complaint: he's using the same name in both lives. That seems a bit of a stretch to me. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Anyway, it gives me a nice new drama series to watch while I'm waiting for season 4 of "Mad Men" to come out on DVD.

Movies with Abe said...

The same name thing did strike me as an enormous plot hole for sure. If I have time (so many new shows this week and next), I'll tune in next week to see how the show progresses.

Greg Boyd said...

I definitely will, since there are very few other new shows I'm interested in. I'm going to DVR "Modern Family" until I can get a copy of the season 1 DVDs, since I want to catch up on it. Other than that, there's "The Office", "Nikita", and this. I'm also going to watch Fox's Tuesday night comedy block for a while. I really enjoyed "Raising Hope" (odd, since the few glimpses I've gotten of "My Name is Earl" were terrible), and "Running Wilde"... I haven't watched it yet, but even if it's terrible (as most people seem to think) I'm going to give it a few weeks (since I'm a huge "Arrested Development" fan). Other than that, not much (particularly since my new cable package doesn't have AMC). Maybe "No Ordinary Family" is worthwhile, but that's about all I can think of.

Greg Boyd said...

Ratings just came in, and it's probably a goner. They're giving it at least one more week, but the ratings were really, really bad.

Apparently people wanted to watch celebrities dancing more than a smart new drama like this one. What is wrong with this country's TV viewers?

Movies with Abe said...

"No Ordinary FAmily" is pretty good, yeah. Reviews of the FOX comedies will be up soon - I didn't love those as much.

Regarding "Lone Star," it doesn't deserve to be gone so soon, though the ratings did seem to be so low that it might happen. I wouldn't count on "The Event" to mirror its ratings next week, however, so there may be some hope.