I know what you’re thinking. I do. It’s on Fox. It’s been incredibly well-received by critics. It won’t make it until mid-season. That’s probably true. And it was true of “Firefly,” as well. Fox pulled it, broke your heart, and you’ll never forgive them for it. But how much did you love those 11 episodes, aired out of order? How many great characters did that show introduce you to? And how many great actors? If you’d known it was going to be cancelled only 11 episodes in, would you still have watched it? Would you have still bought it on DVD and viewed it again half a dozen times, knowing that the series was incomplete?
My guess is that you would. I know I would. I know I’d watch the half-season of “Freaks and Geeks,” again, even knowing that it’d never finish its run. And “Undeclared,” and countless other shows I got invested in only to have the rug pulled out from beneath me, more often than not when I knew it was coming. Still, I’ll take 11 hours of a great show over four seasons of a shitty one.
It’s a dilemma you’ll likely be faced in deciding whether to watch “Lone Star.” It’s a fantastic show, and if you’re a fan of well-written, well-acted drama aching with heart, you may have to resign to the fact — especially after the premiere episode only attracted a meager 4 million viewers — that you’re going to get your heart ripped in half. I say, “It’s better to have loved and lost than never have loved it all,” applies just as much to televisions shows. I’m going to enjoy “Lone Star” while I can, and maybe if enough of us do, it’ll make it to show 13. Or 23. Or, as unlikely as it seems, a second season.
Relative newcomer James Wolk — who has a decidedly Lee Pace feel about him — plays Bob Allen, an earnest and seemingly well-intentioned lifelong con man. He sells fake oil and gas leases to unsuspecting people of different class backgrounds, and — with his controlling father, John (David Keith) as mentor — he does it really well. He’s a good, honest, bushy-eyed kind of guy who just happens to be involved in a very despicable trade. The problem with Bob Allen, it seems, is that, given all the characters he can play as con man, he chooses to play himself. And as himself, he’s gotten romantically invested in his marks, here played by his two love interests in two separate Texas towns. He’s engaged to Lindsay (Eloise Mumford), a small-town girl living in Midland, where Bob has used his considerable charm to sell these fake oil and gas leases to half the town. He’s madly in love with Lindsay, and loves the small-town life his relationship with her affords him.
Meanwhile, he’s also married to Cat Thatcher (Adrianne Palicki), the daughter of Clint Thatcher (Jon Voight), who owns a large oil company. Bob has immersed himself so well into that company that he’s earned an executive promotion, which comes with a lot of money. His plan — or rather, his father’s plan, since his father is the one who runs the cons — is to get access to the inside of the company and steal away with the business’ millions while no one is looking.
The problem, however, is that Bob doesn’t want to be a con man anymore. He’s in love with two women, and equally in love with both lives, both of which are precariously in danger. It’s a house of cards, as his father reminds him, and he’s decided to live inside it. But he wants something real, and these two fake lives have become very real to him. His series-long plan, it seems, is to use his position with the giant corporation to both make money for himself and the company, and keep his house of lies propped up in Midland with his earnings.
It should make for very compelling drama. And unlike say, “The Event,” there were no cataclysmic events, there were no explosions, or overwrought arguments. And yet, thanks to the focus on character — the pilot episode was directed by Marc Webb ((500) Days of Summer) — I was invested in the show by the first commercial break, and completely in love with it by the end. It’s populated with likable people, and the smart irony here is that the people most suspicious of Bob Allen happen to be the least likable characters — Lindsay’s ex-boyfriend and Cat’s brother, for instance. And the only truly evil force, so far, seems to be the Dad, although one has to assume that there’s something also redeeming in him, at least enough to maintain Bob’s loyalty to his father.
I just read a comment from my earlier review of The Event, where JustBill asks, “Do you honestly expect to completely fall in love with the characters (or even relate closely to them) right away?” The answer to that is yes. And “Lone Star” proves that it can be done. It’s going to break my fucking heart when this show ends, but I’m more than willing to let it. I’ve been looking for another reason to hate Fox, anyway.