Last week was the big un’ when it comes to fall television. Sixteen new shows premiered—some of them seeming like instant classics while others flopped. Perhaps one of the biggest stories to come out of last week was that “Lone Star,” expected to be a big hit, just didn’t draw in very many viewers. Rumors circulated that it is already in danger of being canceled.
I watched the premiere episode of “Lone Star” and wasn’t sold. However, last night’s second episode was nothing short of stellar television. Here’s why I’m hoping “Lone Star” can pick up steam and make it. Here is the basic premise of the show: Bob Allen (James Wolk) and his dad are con men who scoot in and out of Texas towns, running scams. They’re currently running two—a property buy-in in a small town and a shakedown of a large oil company in Dallas. To run these scams, Bob has ingratiated himself to two marks—a stunning single mother named Cat (Adrianne Palicki), who happens to be the daughter of an oil magnate (played by Jon Voight), and a school teacher named Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) who gives him cred in the local community. In the premiere, Bob is married to Cat and also proposes to Lindsay. He is actually in love with both women.
What makes the show so interesting is that Bob, our protagonist, wants out of the con game. In the first episode, he sets a plan in motion to leave the scamming behind without either woman, or the web of people surrounding them, finding out. So in some ways, he’s a good guy. But in another way, he’s morally effed-up—after all, his vision of “doing the right thing” is establishing a life with both women and traveling between them. In the opening scene of last night’s episode, Bob tells Lindsay that he wants to plan a wedding so that she will have a day with everyone she loves around her. What prompts this realization? A daydream he has of his wedding to Cat.
What also makes the show so interesting is the fact that this guy is living on a card house. I’ve seen shows where a character has to deceive one person. Here, he has to deceive two simultaneously. And there are already serious dents in his armor: Lindsay realized last night that he didn’t go to the high school he said he did. Meanwhile, Cat’s brother is skeptical of Bob. And his father is going against his wishes and escalating the oil company scam. It’s great drama with so many possibilities for how it could unfold.
Tone-wise, the show reminds me of one of my all-time favorites, “Friday Night Lights.” It’s quiet and beautifully shot with low-key music. Not to mention the fact that it has that same gritty, Texas vibe.
The creator of the show, Kyle Killen, went on The Daily Beast yesterday and wrote a hilarious appeal trying to convince folks to watch the show. A sample moment:
Is it true that the numbers were so bad they’re making you mop floors at Fox?
Apparently I failed to read all the clauses in my contract.
And now you’ve written a letter to the Internet begging people to tune in. Have you no self-respect?
I wasn’t begging. I wrote a letter arguing that despite the soft start and the tide of television history against us, we might pull off a stunning upset and grow our audience in our second week. Sort of a Miracle On Ice thing where we’re America and Dancing With the Stars is the Soviet Union. I also offered to mow lawns.
So let’s start watching.