Sunday, July 25, 2010

Not for review: Fox's "Lone Star"

"Not for review" is an occasional series of pieces in which I offer my thoughts on the pilots for this year's new shows. These are not reviews, as many of the pilots sent to press aren't final versions. Roles can be recast; scenes can be re-edited and many other changes can be made. These are simply my first impressions based on watching early versions of the shows.
The show: Fox's "Lone Star"
The premise: Bob Allen (James Wolk) is charming, handsome and a rising star in a Texas oil business. He's also a con man, playing every angle possible and essential living a triple life. He's married to the daughter (Adrianne Palicki) of the oil company's powerful boss (Jon Voight). He's also got a girlfriend (Eloise Mumford) and a modest home in Midland, where he's getting folks to invest in his scams. And then there's his real life, which he shares with his con artist dad (David Keith). The set-up seems to be working for him, but Bob is sick of living a lie. He wants something real. He's also -- much to the horror of his dad -- developed real feelings for both his wife and his girlfriend. He wants to go straight. But can he really?
My thoughts: I wasn't crazy about the trailer for "Lone Star," which seemed a little flat and dull -- like "James Ford: The Early Years," without the sex and wisecracks that implies. The actual pilot, however, is quite intriguing, with an engaging central performance by Wolk. Its twisty soap opera structure is a little more appropriate for basic cable networks than broadcast. Its pace is somewhat deliberate; the characters aren't entirely sympathetic and the format demands that you watch every episode.
I'm not 100 percent confident it will have a long life on Fox. But I appreciate them trying something new. This early version of the pilot is a little too reliant on sappy soundtrack music to make its points, but I was interested enough in this story of a con man's attempt at reform to overlook that. "Lone Star" shows real promise.

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