BY JOHNNY WALKER
In a move that surprised no one, the FX network today announced that it has cancelled its boxing drama, Lights Out.
The show had been launched with high hopes by the network, and it garnered massive critical acclaim out of the gate, but that acclaim never translated into audience numbers.
FX President Jon Landgraf offered his spin on the demise of Lights Out thusly:
“It seems vaguely familiar if you’ve seen Rocky or The Fighter. But then you get into it and you find out it’s got richness and texture and it’s quite different. But if your fundamental point of view is ‘I don’t want to see something that I’ve seen before,’ it’s easy to dismiss both those shows on their face, because in a conceptual way, they’re not radically different than other movies and TV shows you’ve seen.”
Nice spin from Landgraf.
Lights Out, however, did have some problems that it is hard to believe the TV critics didn’t notice, such as a terribly uneven portrayal of “Lights” Leary’s wife Theresa by Catherine McCormack that in itself probably caused some viewers to mutiny. Whether the fault was more with how the character was written or with McCormack’s acting (probably it was a bit of both) ultimately is of little consequence.
McCormack was no Edie Falco (Sopranos) or Katie Sagal (Sons of Anarchy), and the show was poorer for it.
Overall, the casting of Lights Out wasn’t as strong as it needed to be, and this was borne out when Eamonn Walker of Oz fame did a guest stint for two episodes as boxing trainer Ed Romeo and stole every scene he was in. The episode following his departure seemed much poorer for him not being in it.
Holt McCallany, who played the lead character Lights, is to be commended for giving it his all in a very demanding part. I feel badly for him today, as it was obvious from his performances just how much he loved boxing and how much he relished playing a heavyweight champion.
McCallany truly became Lights Leary, and that’s all a viewer can ask for.
Let’s just hope that critics don’t now use the failure of Lights Out to bemoan boxing’s supposed lack of popularity in America.
The truth is that it was a flawed show that nevertheless had a lot of promise, and had it been given another season, Lights Out may have found the audience it needed