Review: Lights Out – Pilot

Patrick “Lights” Leary is a retired boxer who has been out of the game for five years since his last fight ended in the stolen loss of his championship. Now he’s a devoted family man who would do anything for the people in his life. But that life is about to come crashing down harder than the final blow of Forman vs Ali at The Rumble in the Jungle in 1974.

Between his daughters and the IRS, Lights will come face to face with a decision that could damage his perfect life, forever.

Review: The first thing that really strikes me about Patrick “Lights” Leary is how much of a family man he is, especially when you compare him to many other characters in the FX line up. Tommy Gavin, Jax Teller, Louie C.K., all these characters have similar family values to Lights, but unlike the rest, Lights’ family is still intact.

I think this family dynamic is what will define the series when people look back on it. Brother/brother, father/son, husband/wife, father/daughter, so many relationships are being introduced and explored in the pilot alone, and I can only image how they’ll shape the series as it progresses.

As I said in my preview piece, one of the biggest things people should realize is that this isn’t a show about boxing. The sport is merely a back drop to a much deeper character study of success, failure, and sticking around for just a little too long. Watching Lights struggle with retirement, even five years after leaving the sport, is very compelling. I’m constantly sitting in front of my TV wondering if he’s really telling the truth about wanting out or if he’s just the greatest liar known to man.

But if you really want to look at this show from the boxing angle, I do think there were some great moments brought up. Things like the scene of Lights with his doctor for example. It’s common knowledge that many athletes retire early because of injuries sustained over years of physical abuse, but we never really get to see how they feel when they get the news. Lights Out is clearly trying to take us behind the scenes and into the life of a man who is being killed by the one thing that gave him true happiness. If that isn’t Shakespearean, I don’t know what is.

This show is also filled with some amazing character actors, the top dog of which is Stacy Keach. It’s unfortunate that he gets so little play in this episode because his character is going to have a major role in the upcoming episodes, I can promise you that.

I’m also really loving the non-linear technique that was utilized in this pilot. It’s a real bait and switch moment, because after a while you forget about the bar guy, the dentist and the ice cream conversation. But throughout the show there are subtle clues that something went down. And when everything comes crashing down at once, you feel like you’re right there with the brain damaged Lights.

Final thoughts: This pilot really sets the tone for what will hopefully be another hit show for FX.

Episode: “Pilot” (Season 1, Episode 1)

Airs: FX, Tuesdays, 10pm

What’s next: When Leary is threatened with criminal charges, he must do the bidding of loan shark, Hal Brennan, to make them go away.

To listen to the latest episode of Merrill’s TV Podcast, The Idiot Boxers with Kevin Carr, head over to Fat Guys at the Movies.

From a young age, TV guru Merrill Barr has been obsessed with the small screen. And one day he decided to put that obsession to good use.

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