'Lone Star' creator writes an open letter to fans: 'We're going to have to pull off a minor miracle'

LONESTARImage Credit: Bill Matlock/FoxLone Star is fast, funny, ambitious television. Comparisons abound when you’re trying to describe the show — it’s a little bit Mad Men, a little bit Dallas, a sprinkling of Profit, plus a lot of Sopranos, because the oil industry is just the mafia with fried food and southern accents. Our own Michael Slezak compared it to The Great Gatsby. It’s the best kind of network TV: Smart as a cable show, but with a mass-appeal hook. (Bored of the oil industry stuff? Here, have some sex!) It’s hard to sum up Lone Star in just a couple sentences, which might explain why it got so few viewers when it debuted on Monday.

The death clock is already ticking. Gordon Ramsay is probably readying another reality show to fill the Monday-at-9 p.m. time slot. But the show’s creator/exec producer isn’t admitting defeat yet. On his blog, Kyle Killen has written an open letter to fans: “For [Lone Star] to survive we’re going to have to pull off a minor miracle. Statistically, new shows tend to lose viewers in their second week. We’re aiming to gain them. In fact, screw it, let’s just double our audience.”He’s asking Lone Star fans to appeal to everyone they know to watch the show. It’s a bold move — he uses lots of football metaphors — but by all that’s holy, people, he’s inspired me. “I’m not going to beg,” says Killen. Well, I WILL BEG! Maybe the second episode won’t be perfect. Maybe this is another Kings — a show that never really lived up to its near-perfect pilot. Maybe Lone Star is too ambitious. But doesn’t it deserve a chance to explode like a supernova, instead of collapsing in on itself like a white dwarf star?

People, we can’t let Gordon Ramsay win. We’ll fight him on Twitter and on Facebook. We’ll fight him in the beaches, we’ll fight in the fields and in the streets. Because Great Television…is a game of inches. You have to be willing to fight, and die for that inch. Because that’s what LIVING is! The six inches! In front of your face! #SaveLoneStar, my friends. It’s what George Washington would do, if he weren’t totally dead.

For more inspiration, consult Winston and Al.

@EWDarrenFranich

Read more:
‘Lone Star’: Already time to call it quits?
Fall 2010 ratings: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ kills, but ‘Lone Star’ is D.O.A.
‘Lone Star’ recap: Texan Holds ‘Em

Comments (140 total) Add your comment
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  • charmuse

    Loved, loved the pilot. Fantastic. It’s a shame it’s tanking. I will watch anyway…and hope for the best.

    • Henry

      I love the show. They should do what V did last year. Bring it back during a slower part of the season with a lot more fanfare. Make people notice it.

  • Abby

    Meh.

    • Rumplestiltskin

      Love John Voight, but YAWN.

      • Lyn

        Ditto.

      • Lois

        Meh and Yawn, and I’ll add a ho-hum.

  • JP

    I think they should’ve come up with a better title. I’m sure it’s a quality show, but the title might be holding it back. When I think, ‘Lone Star’, I think of Spaceballs, the Mel Brooks movie. Really can’t take this seriously.

    • Lindsay

      Right. Or the classic 1996 John Sayles movie. Same diff.

      • Stormy

        To me, the title suggests a Danielle Steele movie of the week in a western state.

      • Steven

        I hated that movie! I watched the pilot and it was ok, but with the ratings tanking I don’t think I’ll watch again.

    • Katja

      I have a hard time with the title too, because the first thing I think of is the steakhouse, and I’ve only ever eaten there once in my life.

    • LOL

      The title makes me think of Texas, which is pretty much a cesspool. Who wants to watch that?

      • Jess

        LOL, you’re an idiot. There are good people and bad people everwhere you go and believe me, Texas has many good people. Apparently your negative attitude just repels them!

      • Gabby

        You’re a moron.

    • kahuna

      Or the, “Lone Star State,” even?

      • Marie

        You’ve obviously never been here have you?

      • LOL

        Actually, I have – hence my comment.

      • Jessica

        Ahh, LOL, then you must simply be a gibbering idiot.

    • tbrown17

      How about show title: ‘Dallas’ or ‘Houston’?

  • lone star

    I LOVE LONE STAR

  • Robert Taylor

    I saw the pilot and thought it was very underwhelming, and I loathe that this article’s writer is touting it as great television after one episode (really? what show can say that?). Of the five people I’ve spoken to who have seen the show, four aren’t coming back for another episode so…yeah.

    • Mole

      Feel free to loathe every other TV critic, too, while you’re at it. PS, he also acknowledges throughout the article that it’s the PILOT that’s near perfect and may very well underwhelm in episode 2. Reading comprehension is tough, I know, but in your pursuit of snarkily stating the opinion you have every right to have, you didn’t actually get the point of the article, thereby rendering your anger misdirected and your attitude obnoxious.

      • Robert Taylor

        I didn’t say that I loathed the article’s writer, I said that I loathed what he was doing in this article. There’s a difference. I would not say that I hate a guy just for an opinion.

        And he actually says that it might underwhelm ONCE, but who is counting. And I still have a problem with an article touting a show’s excellence after a single episode. My personal opinion.

        Thanks for making it personal though and intimating that I have trouble comprehending reading.

    • veronica

      Personally, I’m thrilled that EW covered this ‘Lone Star’ creator’s blog and even happier with the way this writer’s picking up that ball (*that* metaphor again!) and running with it. Bravo.

      And it’s a kick-ass show that *does* deserve a chance.

      • Heidi

        I enjoyed it and commented that in my opinion it was the show that held my interest moreso than its competetor, The Event. Shows tlike this have alot to commend for it if they are given a chance. I personally think every show should be given at least half a season before executives decide to pull the plug. Gives the chance to gain viewers and gain its own momentum.

        Oh, and I loved Kings as well. I thought I was the only one!

    • PMD

      Robert, I too, feel annoyed when a show gets undeserved credit. But this is not the case for Lone Star. I really thought that the pilot was amazing. The majority of new shows that have come up this season have had mediocre pilots at best (I am still giving those shows a chance because a pilot is hard too pull off successfully), but Lone Star was pretty amazing and it just sucks that after only one airing people are being resorted to beg via Twitter and ew.com critics. That to me is what is the most annoying of this whole situation.

      • Lois

        Lone Star was the opposite of amazing.

  • Deb

    Mr Killen, Here’s the problem with your show. Americans are hurting. No one wants to see con men conning people out of money, especially when you add a scene where the con father/son con a hard working man probably out of the last of his savings. No matter who people are in the earnings sphere, in these tough economic times no one wants to see people loose their life savings and/or retirement. THe second reason, women really don’t want to see a man with two wives. Tacky, and hurtful to women. THis is why your show doesn’t work. Wrong time, wrong country.

    • lorraine

      Completely agree with you on that. Took the words right out of my mouth

      • cheese

        oh yeah…and the various crime dramas where people are always getting murdered. Nobody likes getting murdered and yet NCIS, The Mentalist, and the various CSIs and Law and Orders are constantly ratings giants.

        Oh and that new TLC show about polygamists and the rise in Polygamy TV movies really shows that a man with multiple wives are things that we don’t want to see…

      • Holly

        Cheese, those shows that you mentioned don’t have the bad guys as the main characters. We are following the life of the main character, who is a con man. Yet we are supposed to be sympathetic to him? Not going to happen.

      • cheese

        Fine…then what about Dexter? Or Weeds?

      • cheese

        Fine…then what about Dexter…or Weeds?

      • ShotgunShogun

        And yet shows like Leverage and Hustle feature all of their main characters as con artists. They seem to do fine.

      • B

        Leverage is about conning rich bad guys/corporations so that the average person gets justice. Not the same.

      • tt

        agree

      • Nicole

        @Cheese – I loved the comment “nobody likes getting murdered”. Classic.

        I agree that we don’t have *like* the characters we find interesting. There is a lot of room for bad behavior in a compelling character, especially one as charming and appealing as Bob Allen. Besides – for all of you saying that Bob is a terrible person and therefore people don’t want to watch him, please explain the success of such reality stars as Heidi and what’s his name, Kate Gosselin, and the myriad other dispicable people that get millions of viewers every week. And those are ACTUAL people (probably) being ACTUALLY terrible!!! Doesn’t seem to stop them from having success. I will never understand the motivations of people who watch that dreck while genuinely good shows come and go for lack of an audience. It’s really f@#$ing depressing actually.

    • Anna

      Well said. This is not someone you want to root for. BTW, begging people to watch is just plain pitiful.

    • Jaded

      I completely agree–I have a hard time rooting for a main character that’s so vile…even if he is totally hot!

    • veronica

      Wow – I don’t look to TV for any of the reasons you do, apparently. And does anyone remember ‘The Sopranos’? Or J.R. Ewing? We don’t have to identify with *or* root for a show’s leading character in order to find him – and the narrative world in which he lives – fascinating. Come on, people…

      • Nix

        This is a fascinating POV, Veronica. So milieu can be more important than protagonist? That’s an encouraging thought.

      • maggie

        You don’t have to identify with a lead character, but you should at least buy what he’s doing and why. I didn’t get enough of a feel for the motives of the main character in Lone Star. OK, so he was raised by a conman father, but it seems like Bob had too much going for him to still be doing cons. You also need a strong, charismatic actor to pull off having a bad guy as your lead. James Wolk is OK as an actor, but isn’t charismatic.

    • PMD

      Ok the last time I checked Americans liked to be entertained. There is obviously more than vile, cheating behind the con-artist – if you watched the show you would have seen the look on ‘Bob’s’ face as he realised the effect the con would have on the people he desperately wanted to be friends with because it would mean he was normal. The fact that you (and myself) were so disgusted by his conning of the elderly couple showed that the actors and writers were doing an excellent job.

      • Tarc

        But it doesn’t mean I want to continue to watch the show, or it’s off-putting premise.

    • Summer

      This is exactly why I had no desire to watch this. I do not want to see a TV show where the “protagonist” is married to two women and running a con. Especially not when that is the theme the show is built around. Meaning it will probably be a long running plot, not just six weeks or so. As to the point that polygamy shows or shows with a lead who is morally questionable, I would say that the shows mentioned are on HBO, Showtime or other cable networks and saying something is a “hit” on Showtime, does not mean those numbers would translate to a major network.

    • Tarc

      Frankly, the premise of the show is pretty distasteful on several levels, and the writers are asking a network audience to not only follow, but empathize with a main character that is pretty much a scumbag. TV that interests me is smart, interesting, fascinating, well-written, and escapist (or some combination of those). Lonestar doesn’t cut it.

      • Nicole

        Interesting – I would have no problem using any or all of those words to describe the pilot.

    • b

      Yeah, this was the main reason I didn’t tune in. I didn’t even know about the “conning people out of money” angle, but from the promos I saw all I could think was “Yay, a slimy protagonist with two wives. Why would I want to watch that?” I just could never find that sympathetic, and even if you have a protagonist doing bad things they have to be sympathetic or no one will want to watch them. Also, it doesn’t seem like a plot line that could be stretched beyond a season without getting incredibly thin and overdone.

    • Scytherius

      Excellent point.

      And again I say … why did they schedule this opposite The Event? That was just stupid.

    • LadyJNewYork

      ^5 to your comment, I’m with you!!

  • kevin

    Deb and Lorraine, its a tv show and one of the main attractions for tv (and movies) is for escapist entertainment. There are so many cops and law shows where murder is a prevalent factor, and i think murder is a little more permanent than losing money. So your argument doesn’t make sense. And i think it has to do with you both being female: you can’t handle a tv show showing a man who has two wives and loves them both. Again ITS A TV SHOW – NOT REALITY!

    • veronica

      kevin – I’m female and I agree with everything you said (well, except for the gender-dependent explanation for these myopic perspectivies!).

    • b

      Most cop shows with murders aren’t asking you to sympathize with the murderer. The few who do that (Dexter, Sopranos) have to carefully craft a protagonist who is interesting and sympathetic enough that they can overcome the audience’s initial revulsion toward such a person. That’s a really big challenge, and most shows that try to do it fail big time. Which is why those rare shows that do it successfully are almost always considered excellent. Maybe you think that Lone Star manages that, but it’s definitely not as simple a feat as “oh hey cop shows show murders!”

  • Sam Steffen

    Replace it with flashfoward.

    • Norma

      Just replace it please!!! My DVR is off this one for sure.

  • Nicole

    I watched Lone Star and thought it was ok. Not great, just ok. I will watch it again next week because pilots are always a hard sell. Especially with a show like this. I think it was basically a set up for what’s to come next story wise. I look forward to when his two wives will find out about eachother. That would be normal tv drama.

  • doug

    I don’t thing the numbers will improve. The competition is too great and the viewing habits of most people is very much set. Usually, the audience drops off in the second week for most new shows. I think they should put this show on hiatus and bring it back at the beginning of the year.
    Put it on another night (preferably after American Idol) and promote the heck out of it between now and then. idol is already being promoted. They also used to do this with 24.

  • MiaS

    Come on! Keep the good Lone Star and dump the crap. Really enjoyed this show. For the love of god, why am I not a Nielsen rating box household? If I was, there were be a lot less crap and reality shows on.
    People/networks need to remember that CHEERS and Seinfeld both started out to low ratings.
    Give this show a chance to catch on.

    • Ryan O’Brien

      Cheers was DEAD LAST its first season. Networks are crazy now. The longer a show runs, the more people catch on. To get a good show, you need to be willing to gamble for a couple years

      • Tarc

        It’s too bad – they should have chopped Cheers. And Seinfeld… ugh.

      • Merrydan

        This is FOX we’re talking about, sadly. This network tosses better shows on a regular basis. Probably why no viewer wants to commit to a new show there anymore.

  • Rebecca

    Critics watch tv for a living, and therefore see subtle things the rest of us don’t. There may be plenty of those in Lone Star. But I watched the premiere and frankly just don’t see what’s so special. Sorry.

    • Stormy

      That’s why the words “critically acclaimed” generally signal “pile of crap” to the public.

    • Lois

      I think critics watch so much tv that their mind goes numb.

      The main thing to remember is that a review from a critic is just their opinion. There is no right or wrong opinion.

    • Summer

      I think that Killen, the creator, nailed it in his interview this morning on The Beast. He said his show has a different style and pacing than other shows out there. So when critics are looking at the 40 new premieres for a season over the course of a day or two then something that is different, stylistically will stand out and be given favor.

  • ES

    its problem is it comes on at a bad time. the event has already sucked me in a little. but I will try to watch lonestar online, if that counts!

  • Rob

    I’ll watch, I didn’t watch the Pilot as I didn’t know it was on that day. Here’s to saving the show! : )

    • veronica

      Rob, the pilot repeats tomorrow (Saturday) night, so you can catch it then (on Fox). Cheers.

  • lori

    I LIKED LONE STAR!!! I dvr’d the show- but couldn’t help but watch while it was recording. Great leads, a mix of old and new ideas- and wait for it… a plot, characters to both root for and those to despise, heroes and villians, love, sex and money! Give Lone Star a chance!

    • Eliza

      It reminded me of the first few years of Dallas. I’m tired of ‘reality’ we all work hard each day, it’s nice to come home to something that is not flood,famine, bankruptsy or violent crime. Lone Star isn’t meant to replace 60 Minutes or 20/20. Just give it a chance.

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