Friday Night Lights: The Review Nobody is Clamoring For
UPDATE: The fourth season of Friday Night Lights is set to premiere October 28th on DirecTV’s 101 Channel so I decided to dust off this review and post here on WOTM. I know I’m probably the only person here outside of Barfydog that watches FNL and since most of you poor bastards are stuck on a cold, rainy island in the north Atlantic that plays the inferior kickball version of football, I’m doing this FOR you. I’m a giver.
“So how did last season end Xiphos?” you ask. Well, the sainted Coach of the vaunted Dillon Panthers football team got sacked by a cabal of evil doers and took a job as coach at the inferior East Dillon High School. The Coach’s insanely milfilicious wife is still principal at Dillon and that should make for some interesting TV.
Smash, Street, both of my future exwives Lyla and Tyra, Riggins and #7 have all graduated although some of them are still around for various reasons apparently. The coach’s minxy jail bait daughter (relax, the actress is 18) will be attending East Dillon.
There! Everybody caught up? Good! Now here’s my review of the best show on TV that nobody watches.
Friday Night Lights. I unabashedly love this show and this will not be an even-handed review. It will in fact be a sloppy wet kiss, uncomfortable to read love letter to this fine show nobody watches. Yes I’m looking at you ya’ bunch of silly bitches.
What amazes me is that a finely crafted, incredibly acted, emotionally reverberating, lovingly shot, entertaining as all hell television show languishes in the ratings behind dung heaps like Fringe and Heroes.
Why people WHY do you accept unfiltered shit as good? Is it that you enjoy the taste of undigested corn and peanuts covered in digestive fluid? Please let me know why because for the life of me, I can’t figure it out.
Is it because of the high school football angle? Are you all bitter because you spent high school getting stuffed in lockers, not banging (if that’s your deal that is) any girls and getting swirlies everyday by athletes? Get over it and watch FNL, the best show on TV.
Here’s the gist of the show for anybody that has missed it and judging by the ratings that’s everybody. This show is a fictionalized version of the non-fiction best-selling book Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bessinger (excellent book btw). It should be noted that this is the third version of the book to be made into a movie/TV show.
The first version was the dopey but highly enjoyable Varsity Blues starring “The Dawson” from Dawson’s Creek. The next time FNL was on screen was Peter Berg’s take on the book. Berg is the executive producer of the TV show, director of the movie, did an episode as an actor and is Buzz Bessinger’s cousin. The third version is, of course, the fictionalized TV show, Friday Night Lights.
The TV show is set in the fake town of Dillon, Texas. The story follows the lives of the coaches, players, families and friends of the Dillon High School Panthers, a formidable football program in west Texas.
The football angle of the show, while important, is actually in the background mostly. When the show kicks into football mode, either games or practice, the scenes are well shot and the action is easy to follow. Somebody should contact Mikey Bay and show him this is how you shoot action so the viewer can follow what the hell’s happening.
There are several main characters in FNL but I’ve decided to focus on the ones I think are the main story drivers and my favorites. All the actors in FNL are top notch but I believe all the story lines spin-off of these four characters so I’m going to focus on them.
The heart and soul of FNL is Coach Eric Taylor played by Kyle Chandler and his absolutely torrid wife Tami played by uber-hottie Connie Britton. The skill these two actors showcase in their ability to inhabit these characters is nothing short of breathtaking. I feel like the creators of FNL aren’t employing actors but are following around a real life couple. There is a palpable bond between these actors. The dynamic between these them seems real, immediate and intense.
I am not kidding here when I say this, this the most incredible representation of a marriage and two people in love that I have ever seen in television or movies. It’s that good. Throw in their teen aged and infant daughters and you have the most real family on TV. Throughout the ups, downs and sideways they survive as family and it’s a family I wish I had.
The next main character I’m going to focus on is fullback/running back Tim Riggins played by Taylor Kitsch, soon to be seen in the Wolverine movie playing Gambit. There is no other way to put it except like this, this kid is fucking fantastic as Tim Riggins. He hits every note right as “Rig”.
The physicality, the false arrogance hiding the fundamental decency and hidden vulnerability all shine through in Kitsch’s acting. Let me put it this way. Even if Taylor Kitsch sucks in everything he does from now on I will still think he’s a great actor because of Tim Riggins. Kitsch lights up the screen anytime he’s on it.
For me this is the character I can most identify with because in many ways I was Tim Riggins in high school. I had the same less then best living arrangements and I was a damn good ball player and athlete. I played on two different state high school football championship teams, one a rural powerhouse the other an urban one. So for me, Kitsch’s performance is as spot on as spot on as can be.
The last character I’m going to focus on is QB Matt Saracen played by Zach Gilford. He’s another fantastic actor because in some ways he has the toughest role on the show. His character starts off as the back up QB to the wunderkind QB who gets hurt in the very first episode of the series. Saracen is short, undersized and nobody believes in him. Add in the fact that he’s into art, has a slight stutter, one of the geekiest best friends ever and only wanted to be a back up to the famous Jason Street, he’s suspect beyond belief in the eyes of the town and the team.
His home life isn’t any better. He’s dad’s a jerk and off in Iraq, his mother split years ago and he’s left in the care of his grandmother who is slipping into dementia. Did I mention that he works a job, goes to school, pays all the bills, cooks, cleans and has to be adult way beyond his years? Gilford manages to pull it off and make Saracen a nice kid you can’t help but like and root for.
It was during a scene between Coach Taylor and Saracen, about 19 minutes into the second episode, that I fell in love in FNL. The way Taylor realized what he had in Saracen and how he brought it out in him is some of the greatest acting in this well acted show.
I would also like to make one other observation about FNL. It has the HOTTEST female cast on TV. It starts at the top with Connie Britton. Man oh man, is she the MILF’S MILF. Then there’s the competing hotness of Minka Kelly and Adrianne Palicki. Take your pick but the line forms behind me. Kelly plays Lyla Garrity the sweet raven haired cheerleader rich girl and Palicki is the tall (5’10”) blondish bad girl Tyra Collette. Man does this show cast the women well. They’re all accomplished actresses and all are atomic hot but believable hot.
A quick side note. I know that there several readers of MyMavra’s that happen to be English: Mr. Z, IAmMrMonkey, ThereWolf. I’m not sure if this show is for you guys. It a particularly American show in it’s outlook. Over the years I’ve watched many an English show and while I liked a lot of them there were some that, while technically proficient, I could not relate to because of their “Englishness”.
The same might go for FNL because of it “Americaness.” I’m not implying that one country is better than the other but there are differences in outlook and experiences that sometimes don’t translate well on a TV screen.
As a matter of fact, about a year or so ago, MrMonkey asked for suggestions for American TV shows to watch and I suggested FNL. He gave it try but it wasn’t for him because of the reasons I outlined above. I firmly believe MrMonkey gave the show an honest try and it wasn’t for him.
I would still recommend FNL to the other guys that have not yet seen it. Give it a go see if it’s for you and any questions you might have about Football or small town America feel free to ask.
One other point, the show is shot in Austin, TX so you can get a sense of what the AICN home town is like.
So to wrap up this pipe job of a review let me restate that FNL is, in fact, the best show on TV that nobody is watching. So why do you people waste time on crap like Fringe and reality TV? I will leave you all with little saying from FNL, enjoy.
CLEAR EYES! FULL HEARTS! CAN’T LOSE!”