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.