Go a Second Round With Lights Out

If you were able to check out FX's new drama Lights Out last night, you probably threw in the towel somewhere halfway through the episode. I don't blame you. KO'd by egregious exposition, iffy acting, and stilted dialogue, the pilot episode didn't give anyone confidence to stick around for the entire series.

Thankfully, FX sent us a few episodes in advance, and after pouring through the first three, I'm encouraging everyone to get off the mat and step into the ring once more with the show, because it gets much more interesting in Week 2. It won't be FX's best series, but it's certainly better than the first episode would have you believe.

Most of the pilot was everything you'd expect from a story about a recently retired boxer. Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) is battling health issues after years of getting his brain mashed to a pulp, he's contemplating getting into the ring for one last fight, and he's broke. Blah, blah, blah. We've seen that countless times before. But the final moments of the pilot episode, easily the best of the hour, opened the door to the potential of the series. We step through that door in Episode 2, the best of the first three episodes.

I had my doubts about McCallany—a prototypical "I've seen that guy before!" actor who has had parts in Fight Club and CSI: Miami—being able to carry the show. At first glance, his acting seems too level, too one-toned. But he and his character gradually become more likable, particularly in later episodes. Patrick suffers from dementia, and I'm wondering if McCallany is underplaying the role to show those ill effects, because when Patrick needs to turn on the charm (at public appearances or on television), he does so to great effect. It's almost as if Patrick is able to push the dementia aside and pretend to be someone else when the situation calls for it.

But the main attraction of Lights Out is the world of boxing. And while it gets some things wrong, like the ferocious Rocky-style boxing itself, they get the stuff outside of the ring right. The underbelly of boxing is exposed for what it is: a dying sport full of corruption, back-room deals, and athletes speeding toward a dead-end in the pursuit of glory.

But boxing only serves as the arena for the heart of this story: a man doing what he needs to do to provide for his loved ones. In a sense, the show qualifies as Breaking Bad-light: Patrick is a protagonist hiding a health problem from his family, and he's forced to engage in illegal activities to support his family. Only instead of cooking meth, he's is breaking arms.

Even with its improvement in later episodes, Lights Out won't be for everyone. It runs at a slow pace, but it looks like it's headed for a haymaker of a finish. Consider the pilot the result of growing pains.

What did you think of the premiere? Are you willing to stick with the show to see it improve in Episode 2?


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

Comments (20)
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Great show, I just can't get over that FX canceled Terriers,they could have all year long three great shows,Justified,Terriers and now Lights Out
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I agree with most comments, I thought the pilot was excellent. Defenitely going to keep watching.
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HBO Alan Ball directed pilot "All Signs of Death" needs to get picked up!

We are a large group of Alan Ball fans and we are so disappointed that HBO has passed on this pilot. We have heard that AMC and Showtime both may be interested in this series. We think it is perfectly cast, Alan Ball is a genius, the book it is based on is such a unique premise, showcasing the 'under belly' of Los Angeles, and all in all, it should be on the air 2011. Please know that you have thousands of fans awaiting this series, which ever network is smart enough to pick it up.
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FX gives us another great show, I enjoyed very much, I guess that means it will probably get cancelled.
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Good news, I thought the pilot was good.
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Pilot was very good and shows great potential. the story, pace and actors all work well. Im not 100% sold but I'll keep watching.
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i thought it was a very good pilot.. im definetly sticking around..
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The pilot was actually perfectly OK. I'll keep watching the show.
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If this is what you consider a "lackluster Pilot" you have no idea of what a good pilot is.
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The pilot was just ok, but I will stick around for a few more episodes.. I was disappointed to see that after 5 years of being away from the sport, the guy just goes straight into a championship fight. It would have been more interesting to see him make his way up the ladder at least a bit... I actually also thought the concept was a bit similar to Breaking Bad, but the episode itself was no where near Breaking Bad quality. Lets hope it improves, it has potential.
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i am going to give it a shot .... glad they show it back to back so i can catch the second show....
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compiring Lights Out to Breaking Bad, in any context, shame on you tv.com, blasphemy of the highest order
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Thought the pilot was excellent - full of unexpected characters and a story we certainly haven't seen much before on television.
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Lackluster pilot? You mean the critically acclaimed, highly entertaining pilot?
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I really liked it, but I'm not sure if I'm going to stick around if all the main character does every week is beat up guys for money (and maybe train for the fight).
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As I stated in a earlier review of another new show 'The Cape' I give new shows about 4/5 episodes so I am looking forward to this show getting better.

The premiere was one big ex-boxer cliche. The whole 'Do anything for your loved ones' is a cliche aswell however it seems to be a cliche; we can't get tired off both in movies and on television. In this review there's already the Breaking Bad comparison but another FX show basicly did the same I am talking about The Shield, Vic Mackey became more and more a corrupt cop because he too had to provide for his family, and let's face it The Shield was brilliant! So this motive (at least for me) has lots of charm. I really like to see how far Patrick is willing to go for his family, and with the rematch coming up he is risking losing his wife Dana (and with Dana the kids?). So there is alot of drama, enough problems, I think there's enough to make this show a great show with real characters.

Next week the second round!
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sounds great, as soon as i will have time will watch
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Haven't seen the pilot yet, I will tonight, but it really sounds good to me. Pacing doesn't really worry me. Actually I wasn't crazy about the Sons of Anarchy pilot but I ended up loving that show. I think with shows like these its better to watch the first season as a whole and then judge it.
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I'm with gamer4432, I enjoyed the pilot quite a bit, so if the show only gets better - then it's great news for me!
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I actually enjoyed the pilot a lot, so to hear the show gets better only makes me grin more.
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