TV Pilot Review: LONE STAR

FOX’s new drama, Lone Star (premiering Monday, September 20), is set in the world of Texas oil with a two-timing con man at its center. If you’re thinking, Isn’t that called Dallas and was done in the ’80s? I’d say, Nope. Dallas had a compelling (albeit sleazy) lead character and was entertaining camp.

Lone Star has newcomer James Wolk as a con man leading a double life with two different women in different Texas cities. As Robert in Midland, he has a sweet blonde girlfriend (Eloise Mumford) and scams locals, including her family, by selling them fake investments. As Bob in Houston, he’s married to Cat (Adrianne Palicki) and angling his way into the company owned by his father-in-law, oil tycoon Clint (Jon Voight). Perhaps Robert/Bob can’t be faulted for his actions since he’s been living a life of crime with his scam-artist father (David Keith) since he was a little boy.

After Bob gets a top position at Clint’s company, he decides he wants to go legit. Well, as legit as he can be when he’s juggling two different women, both of whom he claims to be in love with. He also doesn’t know jack about oil drilling and Clint has already made overt statements about how he deals with people who cross him—it’s mentioned several times that Clint’s brother Ray is dead because he tried something foolish with Clint. I assume the rest of the season will deal with how Robert/Bob will manage to keep the scams going and his hide from getting skinned by Clint.

Wolk is perfectly good-looking but there’s something too self-conscious about him to make Robert/Bob work for me. The best actors make it look like they don’t even know the camera’s in the room, that we’re somehow peeking into their private moments. Wolk always seems to be aware of the camera; in close-ups, I can see him acting. I’m not talking about the scenes when he’s pulling a con so he’s supposed to be putting on an act, but those in which he’s being open with his father. Perhaps this is because Wolk hasn’t worked in film for very long—I read in an interview he’s been in L.A. only three years. In You Again, the movie opening next week in which he plays Kristen Bell’s brother, he has this same I’m-not-quite-comfortable-in-front-of-the-camera-yet quality.

He also doesn’t make a convincing con man because he gives giant tells when he’s cornered. In a scene when he thinks Clint is onto him, Bob looks like he might pee his pants. He needs to be less obvious or Clint will squash him like a bug. Maybe Wolk will loosen up eventually and then Bob will be more of a match for his father-in-law.

Besides the intimidating Voight, only Mumford makes much of an impression. She has an open, trusting quality that makes it believable her Lindsay wouldn’t suspect anything. If Robert/Bob had to pick one woman and asked my advice, I’d tell him to choose Lindsay. Cat comes with a lot of baggage from her family, including her two bland brothers played by Mark Deklin and Bryce Johnson.

Marc Webb, who helmed the charming (500) Days of Summer and is rebooting the Spider-Man franchise, couldn’t add any sparks to this, though his work is competent enough. For a show that takes place under the hot Texas sun, Lone Star is oddly tepid.

Nerd verdict: Lackluster Star

Disclosure: I was given a screener because I’m a Klout influencer. I was under no obligation to receive it or talk about it. I get no monetary compensation for talking about it or mentioning the company.



  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Here in the D/FW area LONE STAR is being touted in a local commercial as being made in Texas by Texans to be watched by Texans – some drivel like that. After seeing the previews of this new series I am not impressed. Am tired of these cheesy good-ole-boy shows. And I live in a world of “bubbas” anyway. Lol! Wolk is mighty cute but the storyline + everything fall flat. I can head to the Ft Worth Stockyards for cheesy entertainment. At least it would be live. Lol!

  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 12:52 pm

    The thing that I have the most problem with was why I would want to root for someone who only seems to be in love with one of the two women (Eloise Mumford) and barely seems to care for the other (Adrianne Palicki) and scamming them both. What, as a viewer, are we supposed to relate to? Why is this on TV? It comes off like a bad Dear Abby or Ann Landers letter. Seriously, whoever greenlighted this show should get a bat up side the head.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 2:21 pm

    I’m with EIREGO. I’m not drawn at all to this. Is Jerry Springer producing? Thanks, Elyse.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    September 17, 2010 at 6:30 pm

    Hmm, nope, I can’t imagine watching this! Thanks for the handy review, PCN ~ I’ll know not to be excited if they start advertising it over here. Funny, con men on screen can be appealing in spite of their ethics {thinking Sawyer on LOST just for starters} but this one doesn’t sound like it’s going to have that charisma.

  • Reply
    September 17, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Not happening…not on my TV!

  • Reply
    Pop Culture Nerd
    September 18, 2010 at 2:06 pm

    Donna—Ha! I’d bet your local, live entertainment would be more fun than this show. And I don’t think this show is made by Texans. There are probably local hires on the crew but as far as I know the lead actors aren’t Texans.

    EIREGO & le0pard13—You guys are funny.

    Shell—I don’t have a problem with con artists in general, either. If a character or story is compelling enough, I’m in. I’ve even rooted for murderous characters if the actors playing them were brilliant enough (remember Nicole Kidman in To Die For?). None of the above applies to this show.

    Paulette—Tell me how you really feel!

  • Reply
    Naomi Johnson
    September 20, 2010 at 9:37 pm

    It does sound cheesy. Thanks for the heads-up.

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