Lights Out follows one-time boxing phenom Patrick “Lights” Leary who, after losing a decision to “Death Row” Reynolds (Billy Brown) in a championship match, decided to retire from the sport he loved, in order to spend time with his family.
Five years into his self-decided retirement, we find Leary living what appears to be the perfect life. With three beautiful daughters, a loving wife and a gym of his own, life couldn’t be better for this knockout king. Of course, things aren’t always what they appear to be, as the pragmatic pugilist’s life slowly begins to unravel.
After a string of poor financial decisions by his brother/business manager Johnny (Pablo Schreiber), Leary finds himself nearly penniless with the IRS knocking on his door and freezing his bank accounts. On top of that, Leary has also been diagnosed with Dementia – a disease that’s unfortunately common amongst boxers of his caliber.
Leary is determined to persevere however, and not let these multiple set-backs impact his daily life in any way. With a few well-placed lies to his family and a diagnosis known only to himself, Leary is forced to take any job available in order to pay for his family’s extravagant lifestyle and maintain the appearance that everything if fine.
After calling out numbers for Bingo and doing other meaningless jobs, Leary finally gets the opportunity to make some real money – although, it comes at a price. When a major bookie named Hal Brennan (Bill Irwin) – one of the city’s most powerful men – wants to hire Leary as his proverbial muscle to help collect outstanding debts, he has no other choice but to take the job.
In his second career role as a boxing professional, Holt McCallany perfectly personifies the former world champion Patrick “Lights” Leary – something that one can attribute to McCallany’s impressive acting prowess and the fact that he is the sibling of Golden Gloves champion Michael McCallany, who passed away in 1989.
Even though McCallany delivers a flawless performance and is very much the heart and soul of the series, Leary’s conceptualized form – as it currently stands – both helps and hurts the potential of this series to continuously deliver captivating storylines with acceptable pacing.
Since Leary’s characterization is that of a former boxer with bouts of memory loss, his movements – while most certainly methodical – are also slowly executed. Despite the fact that this character aspect provides for some wonderfully suspenseful scenes, it mostly serves to slow down the series’ already sluggish plot progression.
The concept of a man that is willing to do anything to provide for his family is one that many can not only get behind, but can also identify with. To its credit, Lights Out perfectly executes this integral aspect of Leary’s story. Unfortunately, it’s when the series begins adding layer upon layer of subplots that everything begins to fall apart.
With a story that feels similar to previous shows – even if it’s not – many of the additional story elements that have been implemented to make this series unique only serve to convolute the core premise and distract viewers from the elements of the series that actually work.
Leary’s unreliable brother, oblivious father (Stacy Keach) and new-found profession as a bookie’s leg-breaker all provide much fodder for the Lights Out’s premiere. Unfortunately, these story-arcs detract from the obvious storyline that this series is working towards – getting “Lights Out” Leary back in the ring for one final match.
For all the many faults that Lights Out may have, underneath lies an endearing story of one man’s continuous struggle to survive in a world that has all but passed him by. It is this element – and this element alone – that may cause viewers to tune in week after week.
Although, considering the vast array of great programming already on television, I wouldn’t bet on it.
Despite Lights Out delivering an intriguing plot with a wonderful main character, the numerous sub-plots and one-dimensional supporting characters fail to provide a conceptually rich enough world to progress his story. While subsequent episodes might paint a clearer picture of the series’ ultimate intentions, the propensity for convoluted storytelling and slow pacing may prevent viewers from tuning in past the premiere.
Lights Out airs Tuesdays @10pm, on FX
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