So Tell Me About Lone Star: A Movieline Premiere Week FAQ

"Son, this is a house of cards. You don't get to live in it." So says a con man father to his con man son in the pilot for Lone Star (premiering tonight at 9). But will you want to live inside the soapy Fox drama about the increasingly claustrophobic double life of a handsome Texas con man and the women he loves? That answer and many more ahead in the latest edition of Movieline's Premiere Week FAQ.

What's Lone Star?

The best network pilot of the fall.

Really? Because it looks kinda dumb.

Shut your mouth. Are you serious?

I was, but convince me: What's it about?

Lone Star is about a con man named Bob Allen (newcomer James Wolk) who leads a double life. In one, he's Bob, a Midland, Texas resident with a cute, blonde girlfriend named Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) and a bunch of shady mining deals that will bilk his neighbors out of their retirement funds. In the other, he's Bob, a Houston, Texas resident with a cute, brunette wife named Cat (Friday Night Lights star Adrianne Palicki), a domineering oil tycoon father-in-law (Jon Voight) and a job offer to work in the family business.

Huh. That does sound like a "house of cards." How does Bob sustain these lives?

With two cell phones, weekly "business trips" and a twinkle in his eye that always makes him seem like the most trustworthy guy in the room.

He sounds like a sociopath.

Well, he would be if it weren't for Wolk. The newcomer arrives on television as a ready-made star. He looks like the spawn of Kyle Chandler and Jake Gyllenhaal and acts like a sunnier version of Don Draper, albeit with a similar layer of crushing guilt buried just beneath the surface.

Wow, that's some major praise.

He deserves it. Wolk is magnetic and charming and he carries the series on his medium-sized shoulders. Whether Bob is scamming some old codger out of thousands of dollars, making barbecue plans with his girlfriend or trying to stand up to his controlling father (David Keith), Wolk is up for the task. He never fails to make Bob a sympathetic anti-hero. The show wouldn't work without him.

Sounds like you have a major man-crush on the guy.

Guilty.

Wolk aside, how's the rest of the cast?

Pretty excellent. Voight acts like a laid back version of his Coach Bud Kilmer from Varsity Blues; you can tell he's a lion waiting to pounce. Palicki and Mumford aren't really given much to do in the pilot besides to look lovestruck toward Bob, and they do that very well. Though, for what it's worth, Wolk has much better chemistry with Mumford. Keith plays Bob's father as grizzled con man in the vein of Sawyer from Lost. He's being positioned as "the bad guy," but you never get the feeling that he's trying to be malicious. If anything, he's hoping to protect his son from getting in too deep.

I've read that the show is like Dallas, is that an apt comparison?

Not from where I sit. Yes, it's about Texas oil and features a big, Texas-sized family, but Lone Star isn't soapy like Dallas. It feels more tangible and less broad, like if Friday Night Lights had a baby with Mad Men and it was raised by Fox.

That's absurd, but somehow kinda makes sense.

I know.

Who are the creative minds behind Lone Star?

The series was created by television rookie Kyle Killen.

Kyle Killen? Why does that name sound familiar?

Because he wrote the never-opening Mel Gibson film, The Beaver.

Ah. That's right. Poor guy. Did he direct the pilot too?

No, future Spider-man director Marc Webb did the honors.

Of (500) Days of Summer fame?

Yes.

Then I'll assume the music is great.

Good assumption. The pilot features Rogue Wave, Jose Gonzalez and multiple songs from Mumford & Sons.

Oh, I love them.

Me too. The music in the pilot is pitch-perfect. Prepare to rush to iTunes.

Mumford & Sons - Awake My Soul

Some critics are being cautious about Lone Star because they don't think it has what it takes to sustain its premise.

That is a worry, but based on the house of cards that gets set up in the pilot, it should have no problem making it through one season. Don't forget: You probably didn't think Don Draper's double life would sustain past a few episodes either.

Noted. Lone Star is up against Dancing with the Stars, Two and a Half Men, The Event and Gossip Girl. Do you think it will find an audience?

I hope so, because I want to keep watching it. Here's one thing that Lone Star has going for it that those other series don't: House as a lead-in. That should help. Also, DVR. This isn't the stone age.

So you're saying I shouldn't be worried about becoming invested?

No. Jump in with both feet. At worst, Lone Star will be a one-season wonder. At best, it could be your new favorite show. Even if it goes down in flames -- as Killen joked it might when speaking to critics at the TCA over the summer -- it will still be fun to watch. A network pilot hasn't been this ambitious in ages.

OK, you convinced me.

It's about time.



Comments

  • Bradley Paul Valentine says:

    I couldn't get past the whole sociopath thing. I don't buy this character or this actor. Don Draper lite is pretty on the nose. You know what you get when you play a guy doing disgusting things to people but play him off like a good guy? You have a silly show.

  • tim says:

    i liked it, though i agree with the comment above---i was surprised at just how nice he was---he's a total good guy---i was expecting a new adrain pasdar profit like guy---even though he's doing something wrong he's really not bad at all---it's like big love----he wouldn't even cheat on his two loves with that woman in the hotel.

  • Scott Chinn says:

    Yeah, I can't get on this bandwagon. I watched the pilot, and I thought the acting was uniformly terrible...a bunch of people trying very hard to appear as actual human beings in a very contrived situation. The similarities to Mad Men are only on the surface...I didn't see any of the mystery, the yearning, the complexity that was immediately apparent in that show. Also, it doesn't have nearly the reality or the heart of Friday Night Lights, the two shows I kept thinking about while watching this one, to which it compares very unfavorably.

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