LONE STAR “Pilot” Review


Some parents hope their children will grow up to become doctors or teachers or engineers or just plain happy. Others, like John Allen, raise their children to become con men. Fox’s new series LONE STAR is about the con man. Robert ‘Bob’ Allen has kept his life in a suitcase since he was a child. As an adult, he’s made a living out of cheating people out of their money by getting them to place false investments in the oil business.

He’s even fallen in love with one of his investors’ daughters over in Midlands. Trouble is, across the state of Texas in a really really big house is his wife. And no, she’s not crazy. Turns out he’s in love with her too. Adrianne Palicki of Friday Night Lights plays Allen’s wife, Cat Thatcher, daughter of a wealthy oil tycoon. Her brothers and uncles are also in the cooperation. But it is her father, Clint Thatcher (played by Jon Voight), who runs the business and no one, he states emphatically, can cross him:”not even my brother Roy, may the son of a bitch rest in peace.”

There is, as history has taught us, nothing juicier than a good ole screwed up family. Not only has Bob got his father to contend with, he has the Thatchers. I loved the diner scene between Bob and his father, where he immediately addressed the question my cynical side had been churning over: why is his father doing it? And how much money will he be satisfied with. It was one of the many excellent scenes in the pilot.

You could say that James Wolk’s Bob is a cross between George Clooney in Up In The Air and Kyle Chandler in Friday Night Lights, but I think that would be a disservice to Wolk whose performance is charming and captivating, at times anguished, at times tender; you really believe he is in love with both his wife and girlfriend. He may slip into the empty Emmy for Best Leading Actor slot thanks to Breaking Bad‘s hiatus. The entire show hangs on whether or not you’re charmed by Wolk’s Bob. If you’re not, then maybe you won’t get Lone Star.

I am curious to see how the series will develop. Surely the con man routine of juggling two women on different sides of the Texan map will get tiresome, especially since at least Cat has her conniving family to keep her from getting dull whereas Lindsay, the girlfriend, as sweet and lovely as she is, does not seem to have much drama aside from the clichéd ex. And the last thing I want to see are two seasons of simpering helpless housewives.

It definitely does not feel like a series, like Mad Men or Breaking Bad or The Good Wife, which has enough fuel in it to last for seven seasons. The pilot, as any television viewer knows, is the set up. It’s where you throw everything out there, like a mini-movie. It’s episode two, three and four that really test the quality of the series.

Granted, there have been many con men in television history: Don Draper, Walter White, Sawyer. But whilst they have advertising agencies, meth and islands to balance them out, Bob Allen’s con man routine takes center stage, above his role in the oil business. Plus, as the episode closes with him about to go the Big Love route and give Polygamy a shot, there are at least two hearts that are going to be broken. Is Bob confused or cruel or both?

Lone Star is an intriguing show.

What did you think of the pilot? Are you going to watch it, record it or skip it? Can you find yourself on Bob Allen’s side, or do you think of him as a creep? Let me know in the comments below!

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