I really want to like 9-1-1: Lone Star, the new FOX spin-off of 9-1-1, but it’s making it really hard.
In 3 episodes the following has all happened:
- Captain Owen Strand (Rob Lowe) grappling with newly diagnosed lung cancer, possibly losing his hair and the attendant existential crisis therein, taking over the 126 after rebuilding his house in NYC after 9/11, line dancing, worrying about his son TK’s (Ronen Rubenstein) sobriety, giving a very long PSA about skincare, and shoving himself into another story by assaulting a man and vomiting on him
- TK getting dumped while trying to propose, ODing, and starting a hookup relationship with the only cop in Austin Carlos (Rafael Silva), starting a bar brawl in an attempt to “feel something” using Carlos to get out of trouble, nearly killing himself and Marjan (Natacha Karam) while disobeying orders.
- Medic Captain Michelle Blake (Liv Tyler) investigating her sister’s disappearance by stalking her ex and getting arrested for it (again, by Carlos), giving off the record medical care to an undocumented child, seeing a psychic regarding her sister, and line dancing
- Judd Ryder (Jim Parrack) watching the whole of the original 126 die in an explosion in the cold open, yelling a lot, suffering through PTSD and beginning therapy for it after wife Grace (Sierra Aylina McClain) tells him to
- Marjan, whose backstory is that she went viral with a flashy rescue in Miami, going viral again after her hijab was pulled off in the aforementioned near-death experience causing her new mosque to ask her to leave for not being “modest enough”
There’s also the trans character (Brian Michael Smith) and the new guy (Julian Works) who haven’t yet done much and I assume Michelle’s crew (Brianna Baker and Mark Elias) will get folded into something at some point.
The original took a bit until they tried to get the audience to care about the lives of these characters versus the lives they were saving and instead focused on the increasingly insane cases they worked. Remember, the original premise of the show was to shed light on all first responders, particularly dispatchers (on the original the dispatcher character was how they introduced the outside lives story to begin with), and what they do to save people. The real lives stuff was part of the show evolving into a soap as all hour-long dramas tend to do. Here though I can tell you about maybe 3 cases across 3 episodes because nothing memorable has happened. And it is sucking the fun out of the show.
Look, part of what kept people tuning into 9-1-1 was how crazy it was. It was fun and weird and insane and through that, the audience started to care about not only the cases but also the characters. This is why the season 3 tidal wave premiere was so effective, they earned imperiling their characters and knowing the audience would not only care but sustain that care over 3 weeks. Lone Star, on the other hand, has beat us over the head with who and what these characters are about and next week will be throwing them into a tornado. In episode 4. On a show that hasn’t even earned the right to use the real Austin Fire nor Austin PD patches.