Is Lights Out the New Terriers?

Fans of the late FX series Terriers are still smarting over its too-soon cancellation, and with good reason. Though barely anyone watched the buddy P.I. show—its season-cum-series finale drew only 780,000 viewers, and that number was much higher than its weekly average—critics drooled over the series, and its central fan base was maniacally loyal.

The same thing is happening with Lights Out, FX's new guys-punching-each-other drama. Critics like it (including me, Mr. Hates Everything), but the ratings are approaching pathetic. The series opened with almost 1.5 million viewers, dropped to just under 1 million in its second round, and will probably see another drop when last night's cable ratings come out later today (unless the State of the Union address actually helped Lights Out, since other networks were airing repeats). By contrast, Justified opened with more than 4 million viewers and has steadied out at an average of 2 million viewers. [UPDATE: Tuesday's episode of Lights Out actually fared pretty well all things considered, with 819,000 total viewers and a 0.4 rating, which matched last week's tally. In it's third episode, Terriers had dropped down to a 0.2 rating and 568,000 viewers.]

Ugh. This is not good. Lights Out is quickly setting itself up to become a fantastic series. And given the success of FX's other bad-boy dramas Justified and Sons of Anarchy, I have no idea why Lights Out is struggling. Terriers' obsctacles were easier to identify: It was a hard show to sell, and it wasn't marketed correctly. Lights Out is about as simple a show to market as there is: A washed-up boxer decides to give it one more shot. It might not yet be time to start a Save-the-Show campaign, but it wouldn't hurt to start thinking of ideas for one (should we send bloody mouthguards to FX?).

Episode 3, "The Shot," was a fantastic display of what Lights Out is capable of. It was an hour of dense drama, with each swing packing some serious weight. The fight we're seeing Patrick "Lights" Leary (Holt McCallany) engage in now is harder to watch than any of those in which his face was being rearranged by some goon wearing boxing gloves. Instead of absorbing heavy body blows, he's crippled by a financial hole deep enough to make him consider taking shady muscle-man jobs, his mental health is worsening as boxer's dementia takes over, and his family is inching closer to discover his secrets.

The main attention-grabber of "The Shot" dealt with Patrick adopting a brash, young boxer named Omar as an understudy. Omar was facing the chance of a lifetime: a shot at a title. We all knew Omar's disrespect for the sport wouldn't allow him to win the fight, we knew he was going to get knocked out, and ultimately, he did. But the journey was handled with expert craftsmanship: We not only changed our minds and convinced ourselves that Omar might actually pull off a victory (silly us), but we came to root for the kid after Patrick humbled him into a blue-collar hero.

Omar may have taken the most active role in the episode, but it's Patrick who shined through. As the vice of bad decisions and unfortunate circumstances tightens around him, Patrick is transforming into an anti-hero. He's lying to his family and he's breaking arms for cash, but he's showing compassion and the willingness to do whatever he has to do to provide for his family. He's no longer the simple oaf with his back against the wall that we met in the pilot; now he's a complex character and the fire within him is shining through Holt McCallany's tortured eyes.

Lights Out may have started slow, but once it starts punching your gut, the combinations come in rapid succession 'til you're flat on your back.


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

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I thoroughly enjoy watching "Lights Out" but unfortunately the time slot is to blame as to why the ratings are so low. It's in the same time slot as "Southland" on TNT and "Top Shot" on the History Channel. If you haven't seen "Southland" yet you are missing out. Just watch a couple episodes and you will see that it's not your average cop drama.
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Yes Lights is new Terriers,if you have a great show on TV it\'s gonna fail
remember Rubicon,but crap like Glee will live forever
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I for one LOVE it. I don't know how people can watch most of crap that's on tv, but a super-high quality show like this is struggling. Its beyond me. I mean really? How many shows can people watch where its a cop/lawyer figuring out who murdered someone in 40 minutes?
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lights out is good, but so was terriers, let the networks not screw this one up, would be nice
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"Terriers" was handled poorly by F/X as were "Lucky" and "The Riches" (2 excellent shows canceled too soon) but for the most part John Landgraf is the smartest executive on any network. "Lights Out" is very good and a lot of it is coming from its "Wire" graduate Pablo Shreiber and the man Stacey Keach. The daughters seem and act like actual human beings and not some made for TV cliches like CBS and ABC always shove down your throught on their shows. Quality show.
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And in the latest ep the actor Holt McCallany turns 40? Whose he kidding, he's 50! He does not look 40 years old unless those years were not very kind to him
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I watched the first 3 episodes and I don't really care for the show either. The ratings say a lot about the long term appeal of a serialized boxing drama. The pilot was slow and the other episodes did get slightly better but I don't think this show is going to last. I found it very predictable and lacking the sort of original programming FX does pretty well. The plot is predictable. Like whats going to happen in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie. Holt McCallany does nothing for me. He's not exciting to watch like Timothy Olyphant in Justified. It's a different character, but I really think Holt is more of a character supporting actor. Other things I didn't like were the boxing scenes, being a boxer I just couldn't forgive them for the unreality of that. This show will get cancelled with those ratings so I'm not sure why its even worth discussing. I think FX made a mistake on this show. It's not sure who its audience is either. Is it old married men? Its not young single men. Its not women-but they spend all this time trying with the family storyline. Is it for boxing fans? Maybe but that's too small a demographic. I just don't love this show, not even a a strong like. It's okay a little boring and dull and predictable
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After reading this story I decided to watch Lights Out, well, I just finished watching all 3 episodes that aired, and I have to say, the show is good, it has some potential, the editing is superb, but the show seems to cut short some really important moments, like they are insignficant, like the moment when Johnny is telling that Leary's purse is ten million dollars, a absurd sum for someone really low on cash, or during Omar's fight.

Overall, I liked the show, it has a lot ot potential, but it doesn't look anything exceptional.
PS: Gotta also check out this terriers show that it seems was also great, but it got canned. :)
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Shooting in California is not cheap. And no matter how cheap the show is, when you have about a half-million people watching it, it's not going to survive.



Taking a stand because you like a show that nobody watches isn't taking a stand at all. It's being a cry baby.



They should be given kudos for taking a chance on a show that could only be sold as "with that guy you know from a bunch of indie flicks and that guy from the first season of True Blood", and for at least letting it play for the full season rather than yanking it.



FX gives full seasons to shows that NO OTHER NETWORK would even consider giving the green light to. But yeah, you go and boycott the network, because there's ANY possible good that can come from that, right?



And to address your last line, nycdmc70, you can always dream? FX IS giving you those shows you wish for, and what do you do? You boycott them.



Very intelligent thing to do.
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Do any shows I like survive?
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It is a good show, but why is it always boxing!
hell, there are a million hockey stories out there that deserve to be told but no one does.
or baseball or football. i love it but the boxing storyline is very closed in, how many people actually participate or can even relate to it?
But i like this show a lot and hope it does well.
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Since when is taking a stand on something childish and ridiculous? People are getting fed up with shows that they love being cancelled so quickly. All I'm saying is that they could've given "Terriers" one more chance. I admit I don't know much about the business. but I'd imagine as far as TV shows go, "Terriers" probably was on the lower end of the spectrum costwise. No special effects, no exotic locations, and as much as I love the actors, they weren't "big names" . JJreilly also makes an excellent point. Just because the people with Nielsen boxes weren't watching, dosn't mean NOBODY watched. Apparently all those people like to watch are reality shows. I don't think any "Nielsen families" give a damn about quality TV. The rating system is outdated and unfair to the intelligent people still out here looking for a well written, well acted, quality show. I guess we can always dream...
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I stopped watching new shows until the season is over and a rewnewal in place just dvr and store and wait and see don't trust networks anymore to stick with quality shows and low rating even though ratings are not always right in exact viewership anymore and someday maybe networks will adapt
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Considering how much tv.com is speaking about this show, I have to give it a try! Time to scoop the first 3 episodes...
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just goes to show you that critics don't know all that much. that's why they don't have real jobs.
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I certainly hope there aren't many childish people boycotting an entire network because they cancelled a show that NOBODY WATCHED.

That's just ridiculous. They're not going to keep shows around, or develop NEW great shows that take chances, if people don't watch any of their shows.

Would people prefer NO Freaks & Geeks, NO Arrested Development, NO Terriers rather than the short, AMAZING runs that we DID get?

Two new shows that I absolutely adored (Rubicon, Terriers) premiered this year and were canceled after a single season. Am I going to boycott AMC and FX because of this or am I going to make sure that EVERYONE I know watches the next great show that comes down the pike?

Boycotting is so childish and ridiculous.
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I love this show and I love FX, but their marketing is atrocious. Almost all of their hits have been easy sells. Nip/Tuck was sensationalistic, Damages had Glenn Close coming to TV, The Shield and Rescue Me were/are "shocking", Justified was based on a character created by a household name novelist and Sons of Anarchy was the first show of its kind really. When it comes to the hits, the only one that's a surprise is It's Always Sunny, but that show is dirt cheap, so they could afford to give it time to find its audience. Oh, and they pulled a great stunt casting of Danny DeVito in the second season.

When they have shows that aren't as easy to sell, they seem to fall flat. The League is great, but I guarantee you the reason does as well as it does is because of Sunny being the lead in.

Terriers was such a good show but it was so brutally mishandled and so poorly marketed that it died on the vine and it looks like the same is happening to Lights Out (though it's not as good as Terriers was. That show was AMAZING.)

Part of the problem is that FX refuses to establish a night for original dramas. They should've picked a night to have Rescue Me or Sons of Anarchy at 9 and Terriers at 10 so that people watching Rescue/Sons might hang around for the new show. Same deal with Lights Out. WHY wouldn't they put Justified as the lead-in? It's SUCH a simple idea, EVERYONE in TV does it. Why? Because it WORKS.

Instead, some new shows are on Tuesdays, some are on Wednesdays, some are on Thursdays and some, like Justified, premiere the first season on a Tuesday and then the second season moves to Wednesday.

As much as HBO's quality is really hit and miss they have a GREAT thing going with Sundays. With the exception of the Christmas season and some holiday weekends, if you turn on HBO on Sunday night there's at least one series that's playing its first run. AMC is heading that way too, they went months having at least one original series playing on Sundays.

Even Bravo has figured it out too. When was the last time they went more than one Wednesday in a row without having some iteration of Top Chef on? In the past year they've had Top Chef 7, Top Chef Masters 2, Top Chef: Just Desserts and now Top Chef 8 airing almost continuously.

Why can't FX figure out how to do this? FX has turned into a channel that has such quality that I will at least give a chance to ANY original series they bring out, but they have to learn how to market their shows, for crying out loud.
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I agree with everything you said and I'm rooting for the series!
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I won't call Lights Out a bad show but absolutely nothing about it interests me so I have no reason to make it part of my weekly schedule. Justified, on the other hand, had my interest from the first promo.
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Well this is just a guess, but my personal theory is that a lot of people swore they would no longer view programs on F/X after the cancellation of "Terriers" including myself. I know often times when a show is cancelled and it's loyal fans swear off the network, they usually eventually get over it and begin to tune in again, but with "Terriers", I think people actually meant it. I am one of the fans that signed every petition and wrote letters and swore off the network, and I can honestly say I have never done anything like that before. I am a self admitted TV junkie, and a lot of my favorite shows have been cancelled in the past, and as much as I complained about it, I never actually did anything about it, except to get over it. Then "Terriers" came along and I was so impressed with it and I am still so sore about it that I cannot get myself to watch anything on F/X anymore. I was actually looking forward to "Lights Out" and I am a fan of Holt McCallany, so it pains to me to miss it, but this is one time I'm sticking to my guns, and hopefully that's what all of the other former F/X fans are doing also.
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Sure, Lights Out may be the new Terriers, in that people seem to like the show but they're not getting much viewers. But as for my tastes, I loved Terriers (even from the beginning) -- I'm only content with Lights Out.
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good show
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