Lights Out, from Executive Producer/Showrunner Warren Leight (In Treatment), stars Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami) as an aging former heavyweight boxing champion who struggles to find his identity and support his wife and three daughters after retiring from the ring. Financial problems leave him at a perilous crossroads – battling the urge to return to boxing or reluctantly accepting a job as a brutal and intimidating debt collector. Catherine McCormack (Braveheart) co-stars as “Theresa Leary,” Lights’ wife who is finishing her medical residency; Pablo Schreiber (Law & Order) as “Johnny Leary,” Lights’ brother and business manager whom Lights put through college; and Stacy Keach (Fat City) as “Pops,” Lights’ father and former trainer who runs the boxing gym owned by Lights. Clark Johnson (The Shield, The Wire) and Norberto Barba (In Treatment, CSI: NY) directed the pilot episode. Series Creator Justin Zackham (The Bucket List), Phillip Noyce (Salt) and Ross Fineman are also Executive Producers. Lights Out is produced by Fox Television Studios and FX Productions. – F/X
10 out of 10
All we can say is that we’re a little punchy after watching that pilot and the second episode of Lights Out. F/X, who we consider the HBO of basic cable, has done it again. Lights Out, without a doubt, is the best new show this spring on television (so far), be it network or cable.
There are so many things good with this show that it’s kind of hard to pin down exactly why we like it in 500 words or less. First, let us warn you that this isn’t the television version of The Fighter or Rocky Balboa and in fact, the boxing aspect of Lights Out, although certainly the foundation of the show, seems more incidental than anything else. Patrick “Lights” Leary could have been a famous baseball player, singer, movie star… whatever… and it wouldn’t really matter as this is a character driven story about the rise and fall of a public hero who’s only goal, now is to take care of his family.
Leary is a very likable and relatable character and reminds us of exactly how we would react if we were the father of three (God, help us) daughters. He would do absolutely anything he could to protect his family which in the pilot includes getting into a street-fight with a loud-mouth former football player behind a bar for cash and acting as an “collection agent” for the local Irish mob boss, Brennan, to deal with a “client” that owes Brennan $500,000. These two situations have very big twists in them and serve as exposition for the man that Leary is and the an he has to be.
Since we’re on the subject of HBO, Lights Out seems like it really would be more appropriate on that network as it feels more in the vein of The Sopranos or The Wire, but then again, this is the network that brought us the raw, hard-hitting epics The Shield and Damages so F/X has proven that it knows how to handle good drama.
If only Lone Star would have found a home on F/X instead of FOX but, we digress.
Lights out is a TKO and we highly recommend it. If you’re a fan of good serialized drama and complex characters, you will love this show.
ABC: No Ordinary Family – September 28, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)(Full Review Here!)
ABC Studios brings to life “The Incredibles”, the story of the Powells, an every day american family, who are too busy to spend time together. So they decide to take a trip as family as a way to reconnect, but on the way, their plane crashes. Now there’re back to their normal lives, but something seems to be happening to each one of them… they have superpowers. – ABC
Shawn: First, let’s give credit to ABC for not only acknowledging right off-the-bat the most obvious criticism of this show – that being that it looks like Disney-Pixar’s The Incredibles – but outright OWNING it. That’s the way to beat them at their own game! And why wouldn’t Disney try to capitalize on their property in a prime time, live-action drama (for those of you that are unaware, Disney owns ABC)? Screw the nay-sayers, this show looks like a lot of fun and is my choice for sleeper hit of the season. The concept is great and it’s not just a show for the family but it’s a show focused on the family as much as it is on their super powers. Casting always tells me a lot about a show and No Ordinary Family is no different. You’ve got Michael Chiklis as the dad (The Shield), Julie Benz as the mom (Dexter), Romany Malco (The 40 Year-Old Virgin) as the best friend and sidekick and lo and behold, Stephen Collins (7th Heaven) who appears to be our Lex Luthor-type. I don’t care if I sound like a 10 year-old fanboy, I can’t wait to watch No Ordinary Family and apparently based on the amount of merchandising I saw over at the official site, ABC is pretty confident that they have a hit on their hands as well.
CBS: NCIS – September 21, 2010
Shawn: NCIS enters its eighth season and is still one of the most watched shows on television and the highest rated drama. I’ve been there from the beginning since it was a spinoff of J.A.G. and the show has gotten increasingly better each season and I don’t see any signs of it jumping the shark any time soon. At first glance, NCIS would appear to be your standard fare, formulaic cop show that I regularly rail against and during the first couple of seasons, that’s exactly what it was. But, the cast and the characters were compelling enough to keep me around until season 4 when it really came into its own with multi-episode, cloak and dagger story arcs and complex character development. You simply can’t go wrong with NCIS.
(Sorry, but no video on this one. I was completely unable to find any trailers for season 8 on YouTube or anywhere else)
FOX: Glee – September 21, 2010
Shawn: Glee is great. Everyone should be watching this. It is funnier than any other sitcom on TV with the exception of Modern Family, has wonderfully heartwarming drama and the musical numbers are creative and fantastic. I challenge you not become moved during the musical numbers on Glee.
CBS: NCIS Los Angeles* – September 21, 2010
Shawn: The only reason I’m putting NCIS Los Angeles (now in its second season) in this preview is to clarify why I recommend NCIS but not its spinoff. Simply put: I just don’t like it. I was very excited last year about the possibility of an NCIS spinoff but I only lasted six episodes into the first season. The show makes no sense at all. The premise is unbelieveable, the plotlines are boring and formulaic, and the characters are clichéd and have absolutely zero chemistry. I like Chris O’Donnell a lot. He’s very talented and I appreciate the fact that he dropped out of the business to raise a family and be a father to his 103 children. There’s nothing more noble than being a father and a husband. Unfortunately, his talents are being wasted on this safe, simplistic and dry show. On principle, I don’t recommend this show, but I may watch the season premiere just to see if they’ve fixed any of the mess that is NCIS Los Angeles. I’m always willing to give a show a season to work out the bugs and if they do, I’ll report back with the good news.
(Again, no trailer for this show either… blame CBS)
FOX: Raising Hope – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
Raising Hope is a new single-camera family comedy from Emmy Award winner Greg Garcia that follows the Chance family as they find themselves adding an unexpected new member into their household. At 23 years old, JIMMY CHANCE (Lucas Neff) is going nowhere in life. He skims pools for a living, parties every night and still lives at home with his family, including his MAW MAW (Cloris Leachman); his mother, VIRGINIA (Martha Plimpton) and his father, BURT (Garret Dillahunt). Jimmy’s life takes a drastic turn when a chance romantic encounter with LUCY (guest star Bijou Phillips) goes awry once he discovers she is a wanted felon. Months later, when Jimmy pays a visit to the local prison, he learns Lucy is pregnant with their baby, and after she gives birth, he is charged with raising their daughter. – FOX
Shawn: I didn’t think it was possible but Rasing Hope has given me whole new reason to hate sitcoms. You see, what’s pissed me off thoroughly is the lie perpetuated on show’s Official Page that I posted above. It’s leaving out a crucial detail and the omission is by design. The little baby’s mother, isn’t just a wanted felon, she’s a serial killer and her big joke in the trailer is that they would never execute a mother of a seven month-old baby. Then, they cut to a scene with Jimmy sitting on the other side of the glass with the baby on his lap watching her get electrocuted and about halfway through the process he covers the baby’s eyes. I’m sorry, and you can call me old-fashioned, but a baby being separated from its mother and then forced to watch her get executed in an electric chair is not exactly what I would call charming or endearing. FOX has been doing a very good job of hiding that little piece of information on their website and their regular TV spots for this show. Gee, I wonder why? What I saw is not nearly as bad as the fact that they are trying to hide it.
The latest series for the Stargate franchise has Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) as part of a group that is transported to Destiny, a self-guided spaceship used to place stargates around the universe.
Shawn: SGU starts its second season and I am loathed to admit it, but I like this show and I really shouldn’t. It is a complete rip-off of Star Trek: Voyager and Battlestar Galactica with the quest to get home and the incessant, holy-crap-we’re all-going-to-die-by-the-end-of-the-episode-but-somehow-we-are-miraculously-saved-at-the-last-minute crisis of the week, but still, somehow, it manages to work. The characters are OK and are becoming more developed every episode and the special effects and action do work well. SGU also succeeds because you don’t get the feeling that you have to know the entire Stargate Anthology in order to get the show. If you like space-based Sci-Fi, this show is definitely for you, if it’s not your thing, you can pass on this and your life won’t be any less fulfilled.
FOX: Running Wilde – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
Will Arnett stars as a Beverly Hills jackass who ends up falling in love with Emmy Kadubic (played by Keri Russell), a charitable tree hugger, who hates his lifestyle and moral code.
Shawn: “What… the… fudge… was that?” You see, those are the words that came to mine when I watched the extended trailer for this show, except for the fact that just like Ralphie from a Christmas Story I didn’t use the word fudge. Unlike Ralphie, however, I didn’t have a bar of Palmolive handy to cleanse my soul from what I had just seen. Obviously, the geniuses at television development at FOX are the same people in charge of player development for the New York Mets. I have it on good authority that the roundtable discussion for filling the 9:30 hole on FOX went something like this:
Writer 1: OK, we want to go with something recycled along the lines of The Nanny and Dharma & Greg and every couple-based sitcom from the last twenty years that involves two people from extremely different worlds.
Writer 2: Well, I brought a hat full of a bunch of paper slips with different subjects on them. Let’s shake it up and pull out the first ten and apply it to your lame-o premise.
Writer 3: Um… I brought pot.
OK, so I completely made that up, but seriously, after watching the trailer below, does it not seem like that’s exactly how they came up with this show? It’s typical FOX suckitude for sit-coms. Running Wilde is a perfect bookend to Raising Hope. Both these shows look awful individually but together they qualify for “making-me-puke-in-my-mouth” status. But, fear not. TV-Tastic predicts that both of these shows will be cancelled before Thanksgiving replaced with re-runs of Bones or House.
ABC: Detroit 1-8-7 – September 21, 2010 (NEW SERIES!)
In this ABC crime drama project, a fictional documentary filmmaking crew goes inside Detroit’s homicide division. – ABC
Shawn: “Once in a generation, a cop show comes along that re-writes the rules.”
That is seriously said in the voice-over at the beginning of this trailer. It may be true, but that show was The Shield, not Detroit 1-8-7 (which sounds more like a the title of an N.W.A. album than it does a dramatic television series). Sorry, but this show re-writes nothing. It’s the epitome of why I don’t watch formulaic cop shows anymore. It’s all the same thing but this one is trying to be clever by combining the rawness and the grittiness of The Wire and to an extent Homicide: Life on the Street and the pseudo-documentary style of… The Office. That’s right, The Office. The difference is that The Office actually is consistently shot like a documentary. The style of this show is all over the place. I’m sorry, but if you want to convince us that the show is being shot by a documentary camera crew, your shots cannot include shots only possible if filmed while a cameraman is sitting on the hood of a moving car (that’s in the trailer).
Beyond, that, though Detroit 1-8-7 doesn’t look awful, it just looks ordinary and typical. I’ve seen this cop show before, and I can tell I’m not alone in thinking this way.
“The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow… There are relationships worth investing in.”
– Mekeisha Madden Toby, Detroit News
“…promises to be a mighty fine ride…smartly cast urban crime drama’s gutsy, gritty allure.”
– Matt Roush, TV Guide
First, notice the ellipses that permeate both quotes like bullet-holes, indicating that ABC cut a lot out. Second, knowing that, this is really the best ABC could come up with to promote critical acclaim for the show? Seriously, that Matt Roush quote is just embarrassing, but honestly, I really don’t expect much from him anymore. I think he just has too much on his plate so unless he really likes something a lot, he just whips out the TV reviewer’s thesaurus and gives us “mighty fine ride,” “smartly cast (which is kind of like sensible shoes),” “gutsy” and “gritty.” As far as Makeisha Madden Toby is concerned, I think she got the memo that if you write for a Detroit Newspaper and live in L.A., it’s in your better interest to be pleasant when discussing a drama set in the city you don’t live in but is responsible for your paychecks. I’m sorry, but, “The detectives are well-developed and easy to follow…” and “There are relationships worth investing in,” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement.
I’m sorry but there’s just too much good TV this Fall for me to waste my time with this. I may catch the pilot or an occasional episode, but this isn’t appointment television by an 8-mile.