You can’t go so far as to say that Patrick “Lights” Leary is washed-up. He bowed out of the sport after losing the heavyweight title, and has spent the five years since then doing interviews, running a failing gym, and letting his brother shuffle around all the money he made so that it doesn’t look like he’s hurting as much as he is. Leary isn’t begging for interviews (although he’s not above hosting the odd bingo tournament here and there) or appearing on ‘Dancing with the Stars.’ He’s not a drunk. He loves his wife and his three daughters and does his best to do right with them. So early in the pilot episode I wondered if maybe the show wasn’t as complex as I was hoping for. Leary’s hurting for money — he’s got the IRS on his back — so there are definitely things he’s hiding from his family, but all things considered, he seems to float pretty close to the surface.
It turns out I was wrong, and what I mistook for being shallow was more akin to a snake, coiled and ready to strike. Leary doesn’t like doing bad things, but his desire to provide for his family overrides all that, and the pilot gives us a small, yet very satisfying, glimpse of that.
I guess I’d be wrong in saying that the desire to be a good husband and father is the only driving force behind Leary. The fight that lost him the heavyweight title five years before was controversial, and the fighter to whom he lost is on TV, asking for a rematch. He left the sport mainly due to his wife, who after the fight told him that if he couldn’t leave the boxing world behind, their marriage was over. Since then, Leary’s had something to prove, although who he has to prove it to is a question Leary himself may not have the answer to.
You may recognize Leary, actor Holt McCallany, as that guy from Fight Club. He also did a stint on ‘CSI’ and a few other shows, but yeah, he’s that guy from Fight Club. And he really brings a sort of childlike fascination to the people and events happening around him. I guess being famous for beating the hell out of people will do that to a person. The ensemble the show surrounds him with does a pretty good job, too. What I like most about Leary’s family is that none of them are boozers, hooked on drugs, or out until all hours of the night fornicating. Well, his oldest daughter is out until all hours of the night. The fornicating thing, we’ll just have to wait and see. All of that could come out in later episodes, it just hasn’t in what I’ve seen so far.
FX hasn’t been doing much in the way of bad TV lately, and judging from its first episode, ‘Lights Out’ looks to be another notch in their belt. Unlike the ill-fated ‘Terriers,’ the show’s commercials are pretty clear on what the show is, so here’s hoping it’ll have that much more staying power. Still, you have to ask what the sell-by date for a show like this is. From what I’ve seen so far, the first season deals with Leary’s comeback into the boxing world. So, he either makes it or he doesn’t… and then what? I definitely don’t see Leary as a saint, but I also don’t see him sinking as deep as Walter White. But wherever the show goes, I can’t wait to see it. Showrunner Warren Leight’s already done such a great job right out of the gate that I’m more than willing to see where he takes us. I guess you could say, ‘Lights Out’ delivers a knock out punch!**
**One. One boxing metaphor.