Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall TV: Lone Star

Without question, Lone Star had the best pilot this season. A lot of times, I feel like I need a couple of episodes of a new show to really get a feel for the setting and the characters, but once in awhile, a pilot just completely immerses you into what feels like a fully realized world. This was definitely the case with Lone Star. The cast, the writing, the music...everything just immediately worked for me.

Relative newcomer Josh Wolk plays the lead, Robert Allen, a con man leading a double life. As "Bob" he's married to Cat, the daughter of a wealthy Houston oil magnate, and as "Robert," he's living with his girlfriend Lindsay in suburban Midland while running her family and neighbors in some investing scam. It appears he's been doing this for years, having been taught everything by his father since he was a young boy. But there's a problem: he's let himself fall in love with both Cat and Lindsay. When Cat's father offers him a huge job at his company, and when the con in Midland starts to fall apart, he decides that he wants to get out of the con game and have a real life -- or rather, two "real" lives.

I thought Josh Wolk was pretty fantastic. He's got the easy smile and boyishly handsome looks that make it easy to see how he charms everyone around him. In fact, he did an awfully good job of charming me. When he turns down the advances of a woman at a hotel bar, I thought, "Aw, he's not going to cheat!" Well, not with someone who's not his wife or girlfriend! And when he goes back to Lindsay at the end of the episode to marry her, half of me was like "That's so sweet!" while the other half was like, "You bastard!"

The supporting cast is great too. Adrienne Palicki of Friday Night Lights stays in Texas but transitions easily from girl-from-the-wrong-side-of-the-tracks to privileged, confident Cat. I think Bryce Johnson and Mark Deklin actually even kind of look alike as Cat's brothers, Drew and Trammell, and Jon Voigt is, well, Jon Voigt in a very Jon Voigt role as their father. Eloise Mumford is sweetly naive as Lindsay, and David Keith as Bob's dad hits the right notes as a man who clearly loves his son but is basically a scoundrel.

But there's a problem that worries pretty much everyone, including possibly the showrunners. How can this really be a series? Like Bob's dad says, "This is a house of cards, you don't get to live in it." It's clear Bob is not going to be pulling off this plan without a hitch -- from a TV drama standpoint that's not desirable anyway -- so how long until it collapses? And where do they go from there?

The sad thing is that we may not even find that out. The ratings for the pilot were kind of terrible, and FOX is notorious for canceling shows -- regardless of critical acclaim -- after just a few weeks. I don't know if the show can be sustained creatively but I sure would like them to have the chance to figure it out. So everyone out there, please watch!

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