A veteran TV programmer, who blogs under the name Masked Scheduler, has this to say about why Fox’s “Lone Star” was yanked off the air after two weeks of seriously disappointing ratings, despite tons of network promotion:
We have just suffered through an horrific economic crisis brought on by excess and illusions, we saw the devastating environmental impact of an oil spill and the resulting lack of response and indifference on the part of a large corporation as well as the government. The last thing that every day Americans want to see right now is a good looking con man who is f**king over two innocent young women who have done nothing wrong other than to love him. A con man who eventually will leave these two women and their families in ruins.
This is where it has to go….anything else is bullshit and, had we kept it on, would have led to some major eye rolling by the very people bemoaning its demise. You can’t redeem this guy and everyone around him has to suffer….just ask Rita, Carmela or Betty. Dexter, Don and Tony were family men and that informed their actions…but they never looked for redemption.
If we want to do a cable show than do a f**king cable show but anticipate cable ratings. Sorry critics, LONE STAR was never going to be a hit. We took the gamble and we moved on. So it goes. There’s a big country between the coasts. There was no way that enough viewers were going to condone bigamy even if the lead is the offspring of what would happen if George Clooney married George Clooney and they had a kid. The audience was not conned.
I watched both episodes of “Lone Star” and was trying to give it a chance, but the bigamy and innocent wives weren’t what bothered me. It was that they didn’t explain the big con — the one with Jon Voight’s oil company, the wind farm, and whatever the hell David Keith was always yelling about.
If you’re doing a movie or TV show about con men, we have to know what they’re trying to pull. In “Ocean’s Eleven,” they’re gonna rob a casino. In “The Sting,” they’re gonna fool a mob boss with a rigged horse racing bet. In “Confidence,” they’re gonna take millions from an evil bank boss and get back at Dustin Hoffman’s mob guy at the same time. In “Dirty Rotten Scoundrels,” they’re trying to screw (in more ways than one) a beautiful young heiress. In “Criminal,” they’re gonna sell a phony bank note to a rich collector.
Show me the con. Give me details and show the con man in action, ripping someone or something off. Even if you’re working your way up to a big con, show me some small cons along the way — and make me feel like the victims deserved it (see “Leverage” or “Hustle“). Then you can show me who he’s sleeping with, how messed up his relationship with his father is, and why he likes hard-boiled eggs so much.
Without that plot exposition, you’re just ripping off the viewer, who doesn’t like to be conned.