Pin It
Favorite

Lights Out 

An old-boxer story with a couple of new twists.

click to enlarge art16060.jpg

A boxing match presents the classic heroic arc in miniature: Our protagonist enters the ring, draped in confidence. Then later, with his lips split and swollen, eyes blackened, nose crooked and gushing, he falls to his knees. The count: 7… 8… 9… The hero rises — shakily, impossibly — to his feet. His eyes burn and fists fly with renewed fury.

A television series, on the other hand, spreads those blows of hope and failure and redemption across an entire season.

Lights Out begins with the protagonist, Patrick “Lights” Leary, nearing a figurative knockout. Leary is a once-beloved once-champion in a once-beloved sport. It’s been five years since he left the ring after losing the heavyweight title. He’s flirting with bankruptcy, and his battered brain is sliding toward dementia. It’s that classic cable-TV-character crucible, in which desperate circumstances call for unthinkable, horrific measures.

But while there have been countless old-boxer comeback stories, and while Lights Out hits many of the same points (the fretting family members, say), it becomes interesting when it diverges from formula. 

Leary didn’t lose his title in a knockout, for instance. It was a controversial split-decision on points, a consequence of fighting too conservatively.

Also, a majority of the fight scenes are only shown in flashbacks — brief, harsh glimpses of Leary’s memory. It’s a daring choice, but it’s perfect for a show more about psychological blows than physical ones. In Lights Out, the past leaves dark bruises, while the present provides fresh wounds.

Leary sacrificed his boxing career for his family. “Was it worth it?” always looms.

“I don’t know what good it does to second-guess the past,” Leary lies in a television interview.
But Lights Out is all about second-guessing the past, all about how hindsight looks through a pair of blackened eyes.

The one weak point is Leary himself. His actions are interesting, but the actor (Holt McCallany) hasn’t yet imbued the role with personality. He lacks the brutal machismo of Vic Mackey in The Shield, the smirking swagger of Jimmy McNulty in The Wire, or the insecure bluster of Walter White in Breaking Bad.

But the plot of Lights Out — crackling with twists and tragedy and backroom deals — quickly takes up the slack. Soon, Leary isn’t throwing punches for his pride. He’s fighting, in every sense, with every method, for survival.

Lights Out, FX, Tuesdays, 10 pm


TIVO-WORTHY

Shameless
Lately, character actors from movies have flocked to TV. (See: Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire.) Shameless gives us William H. Macy as a drunk, working-class patriarch with six dysfunctional kids. It’s a fun premise, but the show could either get overshadowed by its British progenitor or swamped by Showtime smarm. (Showtime, Monday, 10:30 pm)

Skins
Since we’re on a British remake kick, apparently, MTV is remaking Skins, a critically acclaimed, slightly raunchy BBC drama about the tumultuous lives of adolescents. Expect the characters to talk a lot about sex and drugs, just like real teenagers. (Replace the phrase “sex and drugs” with “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones” for a more accurate depiction of my teenage years.) (MTV, Monday, 10 pm)

The Cape
There are two types of shows on NBC: critically beloved gems that are commercial failures, and critically reviled disasters that are commercial failures. The buzz surrounding The Cape, in which a man becomes his son’s favorite superhero, indicates it will be a hilarious example of the latter. (NBC, Sunday, 9 pm)

Tags: , ,

  • Pin It

Speaking of Tv, television

Latest in Film

  • Happily Ever After?
  • Happily Ever After?

    Tomorrowland's fantastical vision of the future may leave you wanting more — or less
    • May 20, 2015
  • Wiiging Out
  • Wiiging Out

    Kristen Wiig's performance in Welcome to Me is funny, but squeamishly so
    • May 13, 2015
  • Desert Rage
  • Desert Rage

    Mad Max: Fury Road will restore your faith in action movies
    • May 13, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
SFCC International Film Festival

SFCC International Film Festival @ Garland Theater

Tuesdays. Continues through May 26

All of today's events | Staff Picks

or

Most Commented On

  • Band to Watch 2015: LOOMER

    How two children of the nineties embraced the decade
    • May 20, 2015
  • Desert Rage

    Mad Max: Fury Road will restore your faith in action movies
    • May 13, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation