[As I’ve already mentioned, and will continue to mention each and every one of these posts that I do: This is *not* a review. Pilots change. Sometimes a lot. Often for the better. Sometimes for the worse. But they change. Actual reviews will be coming in September and perhaps October (and maybe midseason in some cases). This is, however, a brief gut reaction to not-for-air pilots.]
Show: “Lonestar,” FOX
The Pitch: “It’s ‘Dallas’ meets ‘Big Love’ meets ‘The Grifters’ or something?”
Quick Response: You can expect “Lonestar” to be one of the best reviewed pilots of the fall and I’m definitely along for the ride. But I have some reservations. Written by Kyle Killen and directed by Marc Webb, “Lonestar” has the pacing and feel of a movie, but it also has the storytelling build of a movie. That means that after watching for one hour (or 44 minutes), I’m invested enough that I want to see how the story is going to play out, but I also have the sense that the story should be able to play out in two hours or three hours. Even if this were an FX or HBO show and I knew I was getting this con-man/oilman soap opera, I still wouldn’t have a sense of what the 13 episode arc of the show is, much less the 22 episode arc or the 100 episode arc. The stakes in the pilot are high, but they’re possibly even too high to be twiddled and diddled about, especially since the “Lonestar” pilot has zero procedural elements. This is pure, full-on serialized soap. That means I’m anxious to see Episode 2, but also a bit wary. “Lonestar” may be *that* ambitious. I’m similarly on-board but simultaneously wary about relatively unknown leading man James Wolk, who FOX is selling as The Greatest Thing Since… Somebody Equally Great. For one episode? He’s charismatic and charming. But the show is heading darker places and I have no idea if he can do that. Of course, nobody has any idea, FOX brass included. But the vibe he gives me is a bit like the vibe I got off of Matthew McConaughey the summer he had a different “Lone Star” and “A Time to Kill” and the media held an impromptu (slightly premature) coronation. With Wolk, we’re seduced by the unknown, which beats the pants off another network drama starring Christian Slater (FOX actually passed, at least initially, on their new Christian Slater pilot) or even, no offense to the guy and his myriad fans, Alex O’Loughlin (whose new pilot I really *like*). No matter how Wolk pans out, he’s surrounded by Adrianne Palicki, Eloise Mumford, Jon Voight, David Keith and a slew of other fine actors who should be capable of helping carry the show. “Lonestar” won’t lack for eye candy or substance or eye-candy-with-substance. I’m really intrigued here, as intrigued as I’ve been by a pilot in a while. Cautious. But intrigued.
Desire To Watch Again: Fairly high, obviously. I hope FOX sends out a second episode before I have to write my review, because I think many of my fears could either be allayed or compounded with another hour.
Take Me to the Pilots ’10: CBS’ “Hawaii Five-0”
Take Me to the Pilots ’10: NBC’s ‘Undercovers’
Take Me To the Pilots ’10: ABC’s “Better Together”
Take Me to the Pilots ’10: CBS’ “Feces My Dad Says”
Take Me to the Pilots ’10: The CW’s “Nikita”
Take Me to the Pilots ’10: ABC’s “No Ordinary Family”