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October 4, 2015

Pilot Watch: 'Lone Star'

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 16th 2010 2:30PM
The cast of 'Lone Star' on FOXFrom now through August, we're going to be taking a quick look at the fall and mid-season pilots that the networks sent to critics after their upfront presentations.

Keep in mind that in each case, our opinions are based on a pilot that could be completely recast and reworked between now and the fall.

Show: 'Lone Star'
Network: Fox
Timeslot: Mondays, 9PM ET

The lowdown: Robert Allen (James Wolk) is an expert con man, who's been pulling scams with his father John (David Keith) since before he learned to speak. He's surpassed his father's tutelage to the point where he's not only scamming investors out of millions on non-existent oil and gas futures, he's infiltrating the family and gaining the trust of a tough Houston oil baron (Jon Voight). But Robert doesn't want to run anymore. He wants something real, no matter how much John tries to tell him that the life of a grifter is what his reality is. So he tries to find something real in both his fake marriage to the oil baron's daughter Cat (Adrianne Palicki) and a more down-to-earth relationship with Lindsay (Eloise Mumford), a girl he met in Midland while pulling one of his scams.

What we're saying: Created by Kyle Killen, 'Lone Star' sports the creative team of Chris Keyser and Amy Lippman ('Party of Five') and director Marc Webb ('(500) Days of Summer'). All three of them know how to pull emotion from well-drawn characters, and in the pilot, we pretty much have a good idea of who each of the main players are by the end of the hour.

Robert really wants a real life but can't let go of his con man charmer side. John is a good father who wants what's best for his son, but knows that things are going to come crashing down around them if they're not careful. Clint, the oil baron, is wary, smart, and tough. Cat is trusting but snarky; her brothers Drew (Bryce Johnson) and Trammell (Mark Deklin) adore and mistrust Robert/Bob, respectively. The only one we don't have a handle on is Lindsay, who's just a sweet ball of naivete in the pilot.

If this feels like a Texas-based version of FX's dearly departed show 'The Riches,' you're right. It's has the same soapy element of watching while John and Robert dodge anyone or anything that will expose them, all the while the noose is tightening around their necks. But it has an added a level of emotional resonance that 'The Riches' didn't quite achieve. And, while the show could become sillier and soapier as time goes on, the talent behind it suggests to me that they'll strive to keep the stories and emotions as down-to-earth as possible.

Here's a preview:

Tell us what you think. Is this going to be too soapy or strike the right tone?

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This isn't a great show, nor will it make fun viewing. It may be too complicated for some viewers. It appeared to me to get very soapy, real quick. May watch reruns when I am bored but I will not take away my TV time to watch it.

July 16 2010 at 4:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The preview makes me want to watch, at least the pilot. Seems to have a good cast. However, it seems to be a very complicated storyline and might be a bit hard for some to follow. It that happens, it will lose viewers. It also doesn't seem to fit Fox. (Not sure what I mean with that statement.) I'll certainly give it a try.

July 16 2010 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sean Murdock

I saw the pilot of "Lone Star" as a test screener and it has a lot of promise. If I were to give it a "Hollywood pitch" description it would be "Dallas Meets Big Love Meets Sopranos with a dash of LOST" (the main character is a life-long con man). It also has a hint of "Up In The Air" (soulless corporate type struggles with budding feelings of humanity). I thought it was solid but not "wow" until the final scene of the pilot - there's a great twist that sets up the rest of the story arc and reveals that the show has some serious cojones. I would dispute one part of your description - the David Keith character is NOT a good dad looking out for his son; he's an a-hole USING his son and psychologically abuses him to keep him in line.

July 16 2010 at 3:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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