TV Review: “Lights Out”

FX’s new drama, Lights Out, has all of the elements of a sports comeback story. Patrick ‘Lights’ Leary (Holt McCallany), the heavyweight champion five years ago, has turned in his boxing gloves after his wife, Theresa (Catherine McCormack), gave him an ultimatum of his family or the fight. Now devoted to his three daughters, and running a gym with his brother and manager, Johnny (The Wire’s Pablo Schreiber), he appears to have assimilated into normal, suburban life. Except that he trades taking his youngest daughter to school for the treadmill. His brother has been running their finances into the ground. And he might have lasting brain damage from his fighting years.

All of this, and his unhappiness being out of the ring, have brought Lights to rock bottom. Refusing to let Theresa, who’s in her fourth year of medical school, find out about their financial woes, Lights ends up in some questionable scenarios. He uses his size, muscle, and manners to his advantage as a collection agent. His pathetic attempts at grasping onto his past fame lead him to call bingo. And his offers of signed gloves and pictures for his mistakes no longer hold the cache they seemingly once did. In a moment of weakness, Lights can’t resist a bar fight, because sometimes he just misses hitting things.

Through flashbacks, we see some of the horror that brought Lights to the end of his career. His loss of the title was a result of a split-decision loss, one that has haunted him ever since. In the opening shot alone we see Lights lying on a table, possibly left for dead. But resurrection is the theme of any good underdog story, and Lights Out plans to deliver. Lights is offered a deal he most likely can’t refuse—ten million dollars for facing his nemesis in the ring once again. While this may piss off his wife to no end, it’s the only way he can see saving his family, and potentially his legacy.

The pilot shows all sides of Lights: the father, the husband, and the unapologetic fighter. It’s a combination with a lot of potential. Lights Out may have a bit to go to really find its footing and longevity on the air, but it certainly has a good few moves up its sleeves.

Lights Out airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

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