As former heavyweight champ Patrick ”Lights” Leary, Holt McCallany (CSI: Miami) keeps his head down and his eyes up, wary and alert as he shuffles through life as though he were still in the boxing ring. Lights tries to live a suburban middle-class existence with his wife (a sultry Catherine McCormack) and three daughters, but his primary sources of income — personal appearances based on his former fame and the gym he co-owns with his brother (The Wire‘s Pablo Schreiber) — keep pulling him back into the fight.
Showrunner Warren Leight (Law & Order: Criminal Intent) wants to tell the tale of a good man who succumbs to pride and temptation for decent reasons. Lights agrees to a rematch with the fighter who beat him, because the prize money is just too good. He works with his trainer/father (Stacy Keach, who starred in one of the best boxing movies ever, 1972’s Fat City) and attempts to balance the violence of his trade with the domesticity he prefers.
The boxing genre is rife with familiar tropes — the bragging challenger, the constant threat of cranial damage, the comeback saga — and Lights Out doesn’t avoid them. At its strongest, it freshens those themes without melodrama, opting instead for slow-boil tension. The challenge for this artful series is whether that boiling point is too slow for viewers raised on WWE Raw and mixed martial arts. B+