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FX's 'Lights Out' has more than punches to throw at viewers


With great reviews and a heavy marketing blitz, FX's new drama "Lights Out" seemed like a safe bet to score well in the ratings.

Instead the show, which stars Holt McCallany as Patrick "Lights" Leary, a former heavyweight champ who retired after losing his title in a controversial decision and now finds himself weighing a return to the ring, drew only 1.5 million viewers in its premiere Tuesday in the 10 p.m. slot.

The numbers have a lot of people scratching their heads.

But trying to figure out why some shows work and some don't is a fool's game. FX usually does very well with its original programming and has been very successful in that Tuesday night spot. However, its last two dramatic efforts -- "Terriers" and now "Lights Out" -- have stumbled.

In the case of "Lights Out," it had unexpectedly strong competition. This week Comedy Central moved its cult hit "Tosh.0" to 10 p.m., and BET premiered "The Game" to surprisingly big ratings.

There may also be confusion about the show's plot. On the surface, "Lights Out" is about an aging prize fighter. In reality, there is actually a lot more going on than just punching. Like Tony Soprano, Leary is caught between two northern New Jersey worlds. He has his nice suburban home with his wife and three daughters and then there is the Bayonne neighborhood of his youth where he hangs out at his old gym with his shady brother whose antics are driving Leary into financial ruin.

"Lights Out" has a a wealth of colorful characters including Leary, Reg Cathey's sleazy boxing promoter Barry Word, and boxing reporter Mike Fumosa, played by Ben Shenkman. It may seem like a show aimed primarily at men, but there are no shortage of strong female characters either, including Leary's wife and three daughters.

While the billboards around around town touting the drama may have been one-dimensional, the network's campaign around the country tried to focus on more than just boxing in promoting the show.

This week, FX is hyping the strong reviews in an effort to get people to at least sample "Lights Out."

Hopefully, word-of-mouth on "Lights Out" will boost ratings in the weeks ahead. It'd be a shame if this fight got called before the 15th round.

-- Joe Flint

Photo: Holt McCallany as Patrick "Lights" Leary. Credit: Craig Blankenhorn / Associated Press


Comments () | Archives (6)

Sorry...the main character is not likable and the action or lack of is not realistic!

I grew up in the fight game. Ex-fighters even the "ham and eggers" are likable...this guy is horrible!

As for the plot?...I grew up on the streets of NYC in the 60's and 70's...the MOB's hey day!...The idea of a loan shark reaching out to a "celebrity" to collect for him is so ridiculous is not even laughable

IF you want to read a good story..."Johnny Bad Ass" written by yours truly

This show absolutely kicks ass - it's the Sopranos of boxing. Please give this show a chance to earn an audience.
Just say the first episode and it's really really good.

This show is as good as canceled. Show's rarely get drastically higher ratings after the publicity and marketing buzz wares off from the pilot. You can't accuse FX of not marketing the show like "Terriers" that premiered to slightly bigger and got canceled. What I can see as a problem is it is not original territory, most shows that become hits have a twist. We have seen this theme in many films even in the current season i.e. "The Fighter". They pitched it to men and they pitched the boxing. It is not going to get women watching. McCallany in addition isn't a household name where other shows have more recognizable stars that get ppl viewing. I wish this show luck, but I don't think it has enough new territory and draw to stay on the air.

I recorded "Lights Out" on Tuesday and finally watched it Thursday night. As a female 20-something, probably considered well outside of the standard demo for FX, I was blown away by the premiere. The minute it was over I had to see extended previews, and those made me wish for a second episode immediately.
The strong female characters aside (and Leary's wife may prove to be the anchor of this show), "Lights Out" is instantly relatable to the majority of the American public -- a struggling family hit by financial woes, and a man trying to be the best father he can be, possibly providing for his wife and children by any means necessary.
I hope FX doesn't get too down on the ratings -- the competition is already fierce and will only be moreso with USA returning with "White Collar" this Tuesday. One thing is for certain: my DVR will be working overtime, but "Lights" is one show already on my season pass.

Not interested in this thing. However I am THRILLED that "The Game" open with such a big audience!! Well deserved.

This show rocks. When it comes on the juke box is turned off and everybody in our club does not even talk untill addvertising comes on. We are hooked! We hate the older daughter,the wife,the brother we want to see get thrown into the river with blocks tied around his head,and we turned on the sister and the father,we hate them all! We are cheering for LIGHTS! We went from the good guy/bad guy motor cycle group on tuesday night to LIGHTS OUT! FX rocks I never seen a show that makes soo many people hate the caractures like this one. I hope his brother gets the crap beat out off him WE HATE HIM>


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