Lights Out, the 2011 winner of the Karen Sisco Award, is now available on Netflix, where it joins the 2010 winner, Terriers. One of the reasons for giving the Karen Sisco Award is to highlight shows you missed. The best way you can honor these fine television series is by watching them on demand or Netflix or wherever.
I wrote about Terriers:
So why has Terriers flown so far beneath the radar? Everyone points to the title (even after a full season, I have no idea what it means), and Tim Goodman makes a persuasive case that the problem was that Terriers, good as it was, didn’t match up with the identity of its network, FX, so a show with a title that already confused potential viewers ended up on a network whose signature shows (The Shield, Damages, Rescue Me) are edgy and unnerving, which is fine except Terriers is more like a shaggy dog that occasionally bites … it is an engrossing show, a fine character study, an interesting take on buddy movies, but, as Goodman notes, “it’s about as edgy as Murder, She Wrote.” …
The acting was strong across the board, and the chemistry between leads Donal Logue and Michael Raymond-James was perfect. … Though it was a buddy show, the female characters had depth … they were more than just time-killers, and the show didn’t just take the guy’s side, the buddies were flawed and the show didn’t try to apologize for their behaviors. There was a nice blend of case-of-the-week and season-long arc. The ending was very satisfying …
Terriers not only deserved a larger audience, it would reward that audience.
And Lights Out:
Lights Out featured many well-known people in the supporting cast, along with plenty of “hey, it’s that guys”. Stacy Keach and Catherine McCormick were the former, and the latter included The Guy Who Played Nick Sobotka on The Wire, Reg E. Cathey (also from The Wire), The Guy Who Played Minister Said on Oz, and a clown from the Pickle Family Circus. David Morse, who has done it all (from St. Elsewhere to Lars von Trier to House to George Washington to Treme), did a one-episode guest shot that was Emmy-worthy in itself.
Lights Out tells the story of a retired boxer, Patrick “Lights” Leary, who gets into financial trouble and returns to the ring, even though he has the beginnings of pugilistic dementia. It’s a very clichéd plot, and Lights Out didn’t always rise above those clichés. But it had a secret weapon, an actor named Holt McCallany, as “Lights”, and he was a revelation. McCallany was in a lot of things I had seen and liked, but I can’t say I recognized him. He was so obscure to me that I wouldn’t even have said “hey, it’s that guy!” McCallany was the best thing about a very good show. He was likably low-key, like an Irish Gary Cooper, and his understated style played well off of the more flamboyant work by Cathey, Eamonn Walker, and others. “Lights” Leary was a complex character … if that wasn’t true, I probably wouldn’t have liked the show, given my taste preferences. While he returned to the ring to make money, he also loved to hit people, and McCallany did a good job of playing that aspect of “Lights”’ personality as if it was a revelation to the man himself.
I want to give away the ending. … It is one of the greatest, most heart-rending endings to any series, ever. But since part of the purpose of the Karen Sisco Award is to convince you to watch the show on DVD or Blu-ray or Netflix, I won’t tell you how that final scene goes. You’ll just have to trust me, and then go watch Lights Out when it becomes available.