Lone Star's State of Mind

Just imagine the pitch that Lone Star's producers must have made when they first started shopping the show. "It's about this guy who lies to everyone, steals their money, and finds true love with two different women in order to destroy their families financially."

The network's response: "Interesting. So who is the good guy?"

"He is."

Silence.

It's not an easy task they have ahead of them, getting us—a network TV audience used to good guys in white and bad guys in black—to root for a man like Bob/Robert Allen.

But James Wolk (Bob/Robert) sure makes it easy, doesn't he? Bob's goofy smile, honest eyes, and just enough Clooney-isms instantly draw us in, even while he's tricking real people out of real cash and sleeping with two women who are none the wiser.

Last night's premiere episode was an impressive achievement and one of the best network pilots in recent memory. The challenge for Lone Star will be to keep this up for an entire season. How long can Bob maintain his deception? Who will be the first to discover he's not who he says he is? Will his "house of cards" crumble when the first lie is revealed?

As it stands, Lone Star could be an excellent miniseries. The problem is that it isn't one.

"Each [of Bob's relationships] has to have problems that don't relate to the deception," producer Amy Lippman told TV.com last week. "What goes on between the two [relationships] or the two father figures isn't related to the deception."

That is certainly true when it comes to giving the giving the series a sense of longevity (this is a business, remember), but isn't the fact that Bob is walking a tight-rope with his deception what made the pilot so compelling? The next few episodes (which I haven't seen) will be critical for Lone Star if the series is going to naturally expand beyond the simple premise of show about a man and his con game—and that is something it has to do if it wants to survive on network television. If Lone Star was on FX or Showtime, there wouldn't be a problem, because the cable standard of thirteen episodes allows for a tighter story, but when you scale up to 22 broadcast episodes, there's a lot more time to fill.

All told, the pilot was excellent. Wolk leads a strong cast, the shots are meticulous, and the dramatic conflict is thicker than the Texas Tea Bob dangles in front of his marks. But when the show inevitably turns to side stories that deviate from this strong con-game backbone, will we still be lured in?

Or is the con on us?

A few more notes:

... I can't say enough how perfect Wolk is for the role. Producers made a fantastic choice by going with a newcomer, and Wolk was a Godsend.

... What an amazing use of music, headlined by Mumford & Sons and The Antlers! I'm a sucker for the music montage, and Lone Star's are superb. Particularly the opening and closing installments.

... The unsung star of the show is Bob's leather suitcase. Not only is it a brilliant metaphor for its owner, but it's oh-so stylin'! Fox, where can I pick up one of those for myself?

... The drama had that "real" quality to it and reminded me a lot of another Texas-based drama, Friday Night Lights. Speaking of FNL, it's great to see the underrated Adrianne Palicki (Bob's wife, Cat) land a great role on another great show.

Homework question: Did the producers and James Wolk's performance succeed in getting you to root for the "bad guy"?


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

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I thought the premise of the pilot was quite intriguing. We've read "stranger things" in the newspapers. I noticed that one of the scenes in which James Wolk and the actor who played his father were looking out the fron of an abandoned office at the "Hanson Tract" was actually filmed on Garland Road in Garland, TX. The sign in the distance read "Garland Shopping Center". I think the scene was actually filmed an an abandoned Aaron's Rental of Salvation Army Store. I'll watch the series again. If the plot doesn't get overly complex and difficult to follow it may be around a while.
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By the way, the scams he did were awful but understandable given his father tutoring since his early childhood. However, we can see he's not entirely comfortable about it, unlike his father, who sees it as his right!
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James Wolk was fantastic (as were the rest of the cast). However, and I'm by no means a prude, I can't see a graceful out for the 2-wives issue. I'm extremely disgusted by the idea and couldn't stop thinking: how can such a nice guy set 2 girls he says he loves for getting hurt in the worst way? I think he needs a shrink ASAP... I'm conflicted about whether to keep on watching it... I liked most of the pilot and the one thing I didn't like (the 2-wives-issue) is too disturbing to overlook... I think...
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Wolk was horrible to me he was the worst part of the episode his performance was confusing he had the same dumb smile thought out the who episode and i couldn't tell if the character was doing it or if it was the actor I didn't love him at all i wished they had found someone else. Jon Voight was brilliant in the few scenes he was in he out shined the whole cast. David Keith was really good to but the show was good but I dont think it will last with James Wolk leading he horrible.
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Was not impressed. The premise doesn't grab me to begin with but other than James Wolk, whom I agree is a "find", it was entirely forgettable.
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I think James Wolk looks like a young Kyle Chandler & has the same head movements & ticks as George Clooney. with those characteristics he can't go wrong! Jon Voight as an old school oil man is a perfect fit.
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The show absolutely fails at getting us to root for the bad guy. This show is a Dexter wannabe - likable bad guy trying/pretending to be normal; psycho/sociopath with a father living or dead who trained and now tries to guide him. And it fails because a even though Dexter is a Killer we at least beleave that he is a killer who only kills truely bad people. He isn't dragging the innocent elderly into s back alley and just murdering them. But as good and attrCtve an actor as the Lone Star star may be you can't like him. He is stealing money from the innocent elderly and in an economy when A LOT OF PEOPLE ARE REALLY HURTING and no matter that he tells us he loves his fist wife he is cheating on her and about to marry a second. So he is a bad man and a liar and where as with Dexter you are screaming at the TV tring to warn and save Dex from capture I just hope this prick gets caught and caught fast. For me this show is already gone.
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The pilot was pretty good, hopefully the ratings pick up
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I liked the pilot and I thought James Wolk was perfect in the role, but based on the ratings I don't expect it to be around for very long. I'm a sucker for doomed shows so I will probably keep watching.
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What lone star needs is good ratings... 1.3 is awful...

The pilot was OK... it really isn't my kind of show, but I kinda liked it. I won't be watching tough...with those ratings the show won't get a season 2, and I don't like to put time in a doomed show.
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I really enjoyed the pilot, but with 4.06 million viewers and a 1.3/3 in the 18-49 demo, I don't expect this to stick around very long!
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I didn't like it as much as the reviews made me think I would. When I first heard the premise, that it was about a con-man who wants to go legit, it sounded cliche, and it wasn't until the reviews came in that I wanted to watch it. It's obviously a lot more than its premise, and it has phenomenal acting. I felt it had 1-2 too many musical cues/montages, and I say this as someone who loved Marc Webb's 500 Days of Summer. I liked it a lot, but I'm not completely sold yet.
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I thought the pilot was great too, but now that last night's ratings are out and Lone Star performed abysmally I wouldn't get too attached to it.
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I was really impressed with the pilot, it wasn't what I was expecting. I really hope they can keep it up because it seems like the show has a lot of potential.
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