I’m sure Lights Out, FX’s newest drama premiering tonight at 10pm, will bring out the inner punster in most TV critics. Since the show is about a former boxer, I can already imagine headlines about KO’ing the competition if they like it or calling it a featherweight if they don’t. I’d try to come up with my own puns, but I really don’t think the show is worth too much thought.
Lights Out centers on a former boxer named Patrick “Lights” Leary (Holt McCallany) who is dealing with the mental beatdown of too many rounds in the ring and the financial hardship of raising three daughters, leading him to the dangerous world of debt collecting.
There’s nothing terribly wrong with the show, but it feels safe and familiar. It’s a bit like a TV version of the Mickey Rourke film The Wrestler, only with boxing. McCallany does an adequate job, but he’s a bit bland and uninteresting for a TV lead. Watching Lights Out reminds me of how I feel when I watch an actual boxing match: Once you’ve seen one jab, you’ve seen them all.
The biggest problem with Lights Out is that FX has set expectations way too high. The network’s new shows are almost always great, and 2010 brought us three great ones: Justified, Louie and Terriers. It doesn’t have the offbeat originality of Terriers or the raw genius of Louie C.K., and McCallany lacks the charisma and range of Timothy Olyphant.
Instead, Lights Out feels like a watered down FX drama. It has all the pieces, but none of them shine. My only hope is that FX turns the lights out on this show after one season, because if it succeeds while Terriers failed, I may have to throw in the towel.
(Image courtesy of FX)