First of all, let me suggest, with all due respect, that someone find out if George Clooney and James Wolk's mother were ever in the same town 26 years ago. Wolk is the star of the new Fox drama "Lone Star," debuting Monday night, and his resemblence to Clooney borders on distracting. It's not so much in his outright looks but in his mannerisms, which are Clooney up and down. And that is not a bad thing.
But back to the very promising "Lone Star."
Wolk plays the uber-charismatic Bob Allen, a born and bred con artist deeply involved with different women in different parts of Texas. We first see Bob with Lindsay (Eloise Mumford) in Midland, Texas. She's a sweet, downhome girl with a simple life, in love with her attentive, ever-traveling boyfriend. This is Bob in Jeans-and-Tshirt Land. Next we see Bob board a plane for Houston, where he greets his wife Cat (Adrianne Palicki from "Friday Night Lights") in their sprawling mansion. Cat is a rich and sophisticated Daddy's Girl (Jon Voight plays daddy), and she's also very much in love with Bob. This is Bob in Suit-and-Tie Land.
Which woman is Bob really conning? Both of them, and neither of them. Both of them for obvious reasons, but neither of them beacuse he seems to really love each woman.
A role like this in the hands of just any actor would not work, because on paper, Bob Allen is extremely detestable. But Wolk is so honestly charming that he wins the audience even while two-timing two great women and while liberating honest, hardworking folks from their retirement funds.
There's also a bit of sympathy involved, because to understand Bob is to understand his relationship with his shady father John, played by David Keith. John has an almost Jim Jones-like hold over Bob, turning the confident, capable, and occasionally principled young man into a chagrined and obedient 9-year-old boy with a stern gaze and a few well-chosen words. It's a sad and uncomfortable relationship to watch.
In the end, "Lone Star" promises to be as much about Bob's relationship with his father as his relationships with the two women he adores. Inspired by love and some innate decentness, Bob wants to go straight. Instead of working for the next con, he works for redemption.
But first he'll have to convince his puppetmaster father to play a straight game, and that will be the hardest sell of his life.
"Lone Star" debuts Monday night on Fox at 9pm.