Fox will unveil its new con artist melodrama Lonestar on September 20th but Examiner has an advance review for those of you who just can’t wait any longer!
Lonestar follows the antics and exploits of Robert/Bob Allen (James Wolk), a con man by nurture who is leading two lives, in two separate cities, with two separate women. Born and bred into the life by his father (David Keith), Robert/Bob is infiltrating himself inside the family-run corporation of his wife (Adrianne Palicki) while also convincing hard working, more blue collar guys to “invest” in a new venture. But he very quickly realizes he is sick of the double-life and wants out.
The complication is that Robert/Bob is in love with both women, and he is getting in deeper with every minute. Married to Palicki’s character, he is about to join the family business, under the somewhat wary– and rightfully so in this case!– eye of her dad (Jon Voight). He is winning over her brother (Bryce Johnson) for actively listening to his business ideas and pulling the wool over everyone’s eyes. The family is rich and privileged, and there he can finally try to be the upstanding businessman he has for so long passed himself off to be. He appears eager to prove that all he talks about the business world is not just a game but that he actually has a head for it.
On the other side of things is his relationship with down-to-Earth Eloise Mumford. He is immersed just as deeply in her family, even taking money from her father as a partner in that investment. When things go south and his dad tells him to pack his things and get the hell out of dodge, so to speak, he does…but not as permanently as is advised. By the end of the pilot he realizes he misses her so much when they’re not together he doesn’t want to simply be living with her, he wants to marry her, too.
And so Robert/Bob Allen enters the series attempting to be a legitimate businessman– although acknowledging he has debts from his con job that he will pay off with his paychecks from corporate. But he is also about to be a polygamist.
Here’s the thing about Lonestar: the plot is slick and the characters need to be, too. And while a pilot is always a tough judge of character because it has to be filled with so much expository dialogue, the one thing that is clear in this series is that Robert or Bob or whatever he will choose to go by in the long run, is in over his head.
Producers of Lonestar say that initially the character was supposed to be significantly older so that they could play with the relationship with his father a little bit more. However, there is something to be said for a younger guy having the same issues with his dad: he came to the realization that his life is not normal faster, and there will be tension in the fact that he wants what he wants, and his dad wants something else for his son.
Wolk is extremely charming and endearing as Robert/Bob. When he is with his respective wife or girlfriend, the audience believes he cares about her, even when he wears his little half-smile/smirk on his face. Maybe it’s because he’s young and cute, but we want to believe him. And it’s easy to when we see the chemistry between him and his co-stars, though admittedly his chemistry with Mumford feels a bit more natural, and you might find yourself leaning toward “shipping” that relationship over his with seemingly cold and conservative Palicki. Where he lacks, though, is in commanding the non-soapy aspects of the show.
The audience needs to believe Wolk as a con man even more than a family man. The show hinges on the fact– not assumption but fact– that he has been successful at running these scams and is winning over men twice his age. And that is where the show falters. Because the thing is, Wolk’s boyish charm doesn’t fully translate…yet. So far, it’s hard to believe that these guys wouldn’t laugh at him and shut the door in his face.
But don’t shut your television off on Lonestar just yet! Like it’s lead character, it definitely exhibits the proper potential to go in the right direction. Give the series a shot when it airs on September 20th and then come back and tell Examiner what YOU thought.