Friday, September 24, 2010

TV Review: Lone Star

lonestar So we’ve got a new crop of television shows clangoring for my attention on Hulu and, just to be polite, I’ve started watching them. As a result, I’m going to review them to see what I thought of each one, and how I felt about them. Lone Star, a drama created by Kyle Killen, portrays the strange life of a con man and his father. Although the premise really strikes me as interesting—I certainly love con man shows and movies like Matchstick Men and White Collar—the pilot failed to hold my interest for very long.

The story sets itself up as the child of possibly the biggest con man in the industry, Robert Allen, works his way through the blue collar and white collar elite alike by bilking them of their hard earned money through selling them snake oil prospects (literally nonexistent energy prospects in oil rigging.) To produce additional drama, he’s running a split con that requires him to keep two separate lives—demonstrated by carrying two separate phones and address books with him. In one life he’s married to a billionaire energy tycoon’s daughter, and the other he has a lovely girlfriend. Both of them don’t know about the other.

Slowly but surely his oil-rig con begins to bleed out as he goes state-to-state seeking would-be investors into the project. Except that there’s no actual holding for them to invest in, so he’s going to have to vanish eventually. Of course, the ties that bind come into play pretty quickly as he happens to like his girlfriend from the oil-rig con and he will one day have to leave her in the dust when he had to quit his hunting grounds if he gets found out.

On the other angle, he seems to be attempting to get into his wife’s family business through her father by getting a job there and then swindling the company out of its vast finances—presumably through some sort of embezzlement. Except this is where things go sideways for his own family business (which happens to be the con) a he decides that he’d rather take this new 7-figure job instead of bleeding the company dry. A fact that his father doesn’t take too well as he’d rather not have his son quit the family con business to take up the mantle of a real energy financier and investment broker. A job that Robert is surprisingly talented at due to his many years tricking people into thinking that he owns a stake in oil and gas drilling.

The real heart cinch of the story that got me happened to be some of the characterization of his father and his own love life—especially how he juggles a girlfriend and a wife.

In one scene, he is propositioned for a one-night-stand by a girl in a hotel lobby who fancies him and invites him back to her room. She gives him a long, convincing argument as to why she should be able to take him to bed and his wife shouldn’t have to know about it. This after Robert first subtly hints, then directly promotes the fact that he is in fact married. At the end of the conversation the woman asks him if he could give one good reason why he couldn’t. And he tells her that he could give her two good reasons. The implied undercurrent here happens to be that those reasons happen to be his wife and girlfriend (between whom he’s cheating on each with the other.) An interesting fact for him as he chooses to keep his fidelity to them, even if they don’t know about each other.

The big spoiler for this episode lays here.

At the very end of the pilot, and near the point where I’d already lost interest, he had a final fight with his father. He’s been found out in his oil-rig scam and has to get out—a fact that means he has to leave his girlfriend behind. Something he doesn’t want to do. His father berates him viciously for forgetting to play his part, pretend to be a character, and not get personally involved in his con. As every con must end and there’s no reason for him to break his own heart while breaking the heart of the girl. However, he’s gotten too involved with his girlfriend. Instead, he finds a way that he can maintain his double life even with danger breathing down his neck.

“Because, Dad, I’m in love.”

“With which one, son?” his father asks. “The fake girlfriend or the fake wife.”


It’s cute, but in the end I’m not as interested in the direction that Robert’s life is taking. It’s keen enough that he has this con going on. His wife’s father is extremely scary and menacing but trusts him honestly. He does life this double life that could fall apart at any moment. But, I don’t know that I want to see where it goes.

I didn’t subscribe to it on Hulu, so I won’t likely be watching further episodes unless one catches my eye.

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