Lights, camera, action, y'all
It's Texas TV Monday, but Houston isn't being allowed to play Houston
Shows about life in New York or Los Angeles are a dime a dozen — full of Housewives, police procedurals and gossip girls both real and imagined.
So it's great to see our vast, infinitely interesting home state make waves in primetime. Four years after Friday Night Lights brought the Lone Star state back to the airwaves to great critical acclaim (if not a massive audience), no less than five shows will be set in Texas this fall.
And that's great. Unfortunately, none of them are filmed in Houston.
Lone Star, a drama about a con man leading a double life in Houston and Midland, premieres on Fox Monday at 8 p.m. Starring James Wolk, Jon Voight and Friday Night Lights alum Adrianne Palicki, the series films for both locations in Dallas.
Also shot and set in Dallas was Fox's summer cop comedy The Good Guys, with Bradley Whitford and (Tom's son) Colin Hanks. Fox has been familiar with the Dallas television capability since shooting two seasons of Prison Break there starting in 2006, citing the plot need for characters to spread all across the country and Dallas's ability to look like many different places in a relatively small area.
Another on-screen depiction on Houston is in NBC's Chase, premiering Monday at 9 p.m. and starring Kelli Giddish as a fugitive-hunting U.S. Marshal based in Houston. Based on the pilot, the show may be shot in Fort Worth because Houston just didn't have enough of the stereotypically "Texas" vibe for producer Michael Bay.
After all, in the opening scene, Giddish's pursuit of the bad guy includes her interrupting a ceremonial cattle drive. That might be the kind of thing that flies in Fort Worth (where the historic cattle yards are a tourist destination), but that's nothing like the Houston I know, thank you very much.
ABC twenty-something drama My Generation (premiering Thursday at 7 p.m.) is shot and set in Austin, following the intertwined lives of nine people a decade after their high school graduation. By filming in Austin, it joins West Texas-set Friday Night Lights, whose fifth and final season premieres on DirectTV on Oct. 27.
With Texas invading the small screen, we have to ask why Houston is missing out on the action.
Those in the business say that Austin and Dallas have more proven film crews and production infrastructure, a perception that the Houston Film Commission is working to undo.
"It's the networks that we have to convince that we can facilitate those projects," Houston Film Commission director Rick Ferguson told KHOU.
This isn't just about showing up Dallas or Austin, or giving Americans a better picture of Houston onscreen. According to Dallas Film Commission director Janis Burklund, the 35 episodes of Prison Break shot in Dallas cost about $50 million, employed 600 locals and had a total economic impact to the area of $122.5 million.
That's not exactly pocket change, even to J.R. Ewing.