“Friday Night Lights”: Can’t lose


Much has been said by the cognizati about the greatness of NBC’s “Friday Night Lights,” how it has managed to capture the simple majesty of everyday folks living through everyday trials and triumphs.

All the superlatives that have been hurled at the show during the past year are true, and justly earned. In primetime’s sea of cops, docs, lawyers and supernaturals, “Friday Night Lights” is the bravest show on TV, and it trumped the odds against shows with anemic Nielsen numbers to secure a renewal for a second season, which begins Oct. 5 at 9 p.m. (Get plenty of vid clips and full episodes for streaming by clicking here.)

“Friday Night Lights” stood apart in its freshman year because its only storytelling fulcrum in the traditional sense (i.e. a built-in plot engine like the case of the week, disease of the week, etc.) a small-town high school football team’s quest to reach the summit of the Texas state high school football championship. The Dillon Panthers’ bid for “State” is greatly complicated after the team’s star quarterback is injured paralyzed in the first game (and episode) of the season.

But to tag “FNL” as a “football show” is like saying John Ford’s “Stagecoach” is about bandits and Indians running amok in the old West. The vast majority of “FNL” hinges on the writers’ ability to find compelling stories within the stuff of life in a small Texas town. Like everything else about the show, even the town of Dillon was finely drawn as a vibrant, complex character — neither dirt poor nor oil flush, neither a redneck wasteland nor an enlightened utopia.

Dillon has many classes, many races and many nuances that were slowly drawn out through the course of 22 segs last season in such a way that made it come alive to people who’ve never been anywhere near the Lone Star state.

For all that there is to gush about over “FNL” (The writing! The ensemble! The directing! The production touches!), what stands out most to me after two weeks of marathon viewing of the season one DVD set is how so much of the drama is rooted in a subject rarely tackled in such a significant way on the small screen: Parenting.

Pictured above: “Friday Night Lights” cast and producers Jason Katims and Jeffrey Reiner (first row far left) soaked up the kudos during the show’s NBC’s Television Critics Assn. press tour sesh in July.

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  1. Never argue with an idiot. They drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.

  2. kelsey says:

    i watch this show every wedensday.
    i never miss and episode
    it makes me cry every show,
    it has such a great story behind it all.
    ” its my favorit show every made.”

  3. Nancy says:

    My husband and I love this show!!! In a TV world filled with cops, detectives, doctors and weird supernatural creepies, it’s refreshing. We wait for Friday night to come, and then DARN!! Another Dateline…another special…another whatever. WE WANT TO SEE FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS EVERY WEEK!!! The football part is good, but the characters and the way they interact is awesome!!! From a couple in their 60’s.

  4. Ran Cansley says:

    I’ve been hooked from the beginning, for all the reasons you mention. I’m sending a link to your article to those last few holdouts who haven’t had time to watch the DVDs!

  5. muze says:

    Hooked me after watching one episode over the summer. I’d heard so much about the show. But when I finally tuned in I was immediately blown away by the complexity and realistic portrayal of the characters and town. from the title of the show I presumed it would be a tacky, rah-rah football show…When in reality it is very much like the book from which it takes its name.

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