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Television review: ‘Lone Star’

Americans are currently confused a bit by the difference between intent and action. We want to be thin and healthy, but we eat junk and drive everywhere. We want to be financially secure, but we willingly go into debt.

On television, this contradiction has produced a new role: the charming, troubled antihero/heroine (Bryan Cranston’s Walter White, Mary-Louise Parker’s Nancy Botwin, Jon Hamm’s Don Draper) who seeks love and respect in ways that are utterly contrary to those goals.

Add to the list Bob Allen (played by newcomer James Wolk) on Fox’s new drama “Lone Star.” A young Texas con man raised by an old Texas con man ( David Keith), Bob may be the best in the business, but what he wants is a normal life in which he mows the lawn and works a job, not a scam. So, caught between his down-home girlfriend in Midland and his oil company scion wife-mark in Houston, he decides (spoiler alert) to marry … both. He will set straight the sins of his past by leading a double life.

Everyone loves a con man, but a bigamist? Bill Paxton is pulling off multiple spouses on HBO’s " Big Love,” but on “Lone Star” neither the oilman’s daughter ( Adrianne Palicki) nor the Midland gal (Eloise Mumford) has a clue what’s going on.

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And what is going on? Well, creator Kyle Killen and executive producers Amy Lippman and Christopher Keyser (the latter two best known for “Party of Five”) are betting that the callow charm of their leading man, shored up by tailor-made roles for Keith and Jon Voight, who plays gimlet-eyed oil tycoon Clint Thatcher, will overcome the ridiculousness of the setup.

It’s a lot to put on the shoulders of a 25-year-old with virtually no television experience. Certainly, Wolk is not hard to look at, so like a young George Clooney, down to the self-deprecating smirk and sideways twinkle, copyright infringement may be involved. The pilot plays to the viewers’ emotions hard and fast, showing the young Bob as he is yanked out of yet another set of temporary living quarters while some victim of his father’s con bangs at the door. Of course, this young man is damaged, torn between his dream of stability and his desire to please his father.

It’s clear that Bob honestly does not understand the difference between desire and reality. The question becomes whether the folks behind “Lone Star” are making a fairly dramatic statement about modern self-indulgence — Bob loves them both, so he marries them both — or whether they just figure that the television audience has grown so accustomed to watching their heroes make reprehensible choices that they’ll love bigamist Bob anyway.

mary.mcnamara@latimes.com


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