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Lone Star 1.01 – Pilot

The cast of Fox's Lone Star


Genre: Family Drama

Grade: A

Verdict: Must Watch

Too Long, Didn’t Read: The best new show of the season with quality you’d expect from AMC or even HBO – not FOX.

With preliminary ratings already reported, it’s obvious what type of shows did well last night – the big budget Hawaii Five-0 and The Event. The public apparently didn’t realize there was another show that premiered last night on major network television, a little show called Lone Star. Quietly publicized by Fox, it performed remarkably poorly in the ratings last night and might not last the season. That doesn’t stop it from being the best television pilot of the season, network or cable. Lone Star‘s pilot is, in one word, majestic and is appointment viewing for anyone who believes that television can produce emotional and fulfilling narratives.

Lone Star stars newcomer James Wolk as Robert Allen, a man living two lives. One is with his girlfriend Lindsey (played by newcomer Eloise Mumford) in Midland, Texas where the two own a small suburban home. In another world, he lives in a large upper-class neighborhood, married to a woman named Cat (Friday Night Lights‘ Adrianne Palicki).

Why does he do this? Because he’s a con-man. He and his father, An Officer and a Gentleman‘s David Keith, scheme to sap money out of Midland while also stealing from Cat’s family business. However, things go awry when Robert realizes he wants something real – he wants to stop the conning and finally be himself.

James Wolk plays the duplicitous Allen perfectly, coupling charm and ingenuity to create a believable and likable con-man for the audience to relate to. One of the reasons Allen is so good at his job is that he’s a people person; he tells people not just what they want to hear, but what they need to hear. At the same time, it’s clear that Allen is tired of being his father’s puppet and cannot continue stealing people’s money. He wants something real, but as his father sternly reminds him, “this is a house of cards, you don’t get to live in it”.

So many scenes add to the struggle that Allen goes through, ending with the realization that he must do the right thing (though his “right thing” also is still juggling two lives at once – he wants Cat and Lindsey). In the hotel, he’s hit on by a woman who says he doesn’t care that he’s married. Director Webb overlays her monologue on the fallacies of marriage with a montage of Allen getting undressed. Because the viewers assume that Allen has few morals, we’re to believe that he’s about to sleep with this woman. But, no dice. He’s legitimately in love with both Cat and Lindsey, and gives her “two reasons’ why he won’t sleep with her. There’s a surprising amount of suspense and then relief that our con-man isn’t as terrible as he might seem.

It’s unconventional for sure. But it’s so wonderfully shot, beautifully written and fantastically acted that it’s amazing that the show could be the brain child of television newcomer Kyle Killen. To be fair, he had held: The pilot is shot by (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb and Fox added Party of Five creators Amy Lippman and Chris Keyser to assist Killer with producing and showrunning.

Lone Star might not last past its first 13 episodes. Hell, it might not last the next week weeks with the numbers it got last night. Either way, it is one of the most ambitious dramas that Fox (and maybe even network television) has ever produced and should be commended for its skillfully crafted pilot. I’m completely on board, even if the ratings go down in flames. It’s worth it.


2 Responses

  1. This show is fresh and its plot is different. too bad..i heard they are gna cancel.

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