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TV Review: Lights Out – Pilot
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Lights Out
Season 1, Episode 1 – Pilot
Directed by: Norberto Barba and Clark Johnson
Starring: Holt McCallany, Stacy Keach, Catherine McCormack, Pablo Schreiber, Meredith Hagner, Ryann Shane, Lily Pilblad, Billy Brown, Christopher Shyer, Reg E. Cathey, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick, Pedro Pascal and Ben Shenkman
FX
Air date: January 11, 2011

When Lights Out begins, Patrick ‘Lights’ Leary (Holt McCallany) isn’t a man that is going to go through life with his hands tied behind his back. Five years after a career-ending fight, the former heavyweight champion is out of the game, but is content with living a life in suburbia with his wife (Catherine McCormack) and three daughters as he plays house dad in what seems to be the picture perfect post-career life.

However, as the series premiere progresses, we learn this is far from true. Lights has more problems than a simple boxing match. The poor economic situation has eroded away most of his fortune, his brother is getting into various debts, and his gym is a monetary sinkhole.

But one thing hasn’t changed throughout all this: Lights isn’t going to quit. He’s a fighter and he’ll do what needs to be done.

The pilot does a great job of making a boxing story work within the context of a TV show, with the fights inside the ring being just as important as those outside of it. Whether it’s the fight that starts out the episode or the fights that culminate at the end of it, there are plenty of interesting bits that make Lights interesting and different. For example, while going to collect a debt from a local dentist, Lights is unashamed to walk into the home of this man, sit and eat dinner with him and then ask him for the half a million dollars he owes. When the dentist grabs a bat to defend himself and his house, Lights is impressed that this man will rise up to protect the things he loves, but that doesn’t stop him from beating the tar out of the man.

Maybe that’s because Lights is doing the same exact thing. I don’t want to give away tons of spoilers for those that haven’t seen it (and you really should, the pilot is free on iTunes) there’s something that happens during the middle of the pilot that causes Lights to change his tune on his five year hiatus from hitting people. That reason, combined with the surprise ending, really looks to be an interesting driving force for the rest of the season and I’m eager to see how it all plays out.

Quick Thoughts:

— Lights is masterfully brought to life by Holt McCallany, who grounds this character in an incredible fashion. Often shelved to supporting roles, McCallany has plenty of opportunity to shine throughout the course of the episode and is easily one of the best parts of the show.

— Nice to see some alums from The Wire show up including Nick Sobotka himself, Pablo Schreiber, who plays Lights’ brother. Also, Reg E. Cathey (Norman from ‘The Wire’) shows up at the end of the episode.

— The pacing and the overall progression of the pilot was done in an extremely satisfying fashion.

— There are a lot of aspects in Lights Out that remind me of Breaking Bad and that excites me.

I’ll be sticking with Lights Out throughout the rest of the season, but what do you all think?

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