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October 9, 2015

Friday Night Lights: Homecoming

by Brett Love, posted Nov 15th 2006 11:34AM
gaius charles(S01E07) First and foremost, thank you to NBC for giving this show a full season order. This was almost a hectic episode. Where other episodes have pushed some of the characters to the side to focus on certain stories, everybody got some time tonight. While it did jam a whole lot of story into one episode, I don't think that is what held the episode back. It just seemed like there were a lot of little things that didn't really ring true this week. The best part of it was that we finally got some development for some of the characters that have been hanging around the fringes of the show.

Most notably among those is Smash. We did have the brief introduction of Mrs. Williams earlier, but this week Smash finally got a story all his own. I liked all of it right up until the end. I'm still undecided on the steroid angle. Given the quality of the show to this point, I'll give the writers the benefit of the doubt and wait to see where they go with it. There is a story to be told about high school steroid use. Possible future gripes aside, Gaius Charles was really good tonight. We've seen hyper-confidant Smash before, and he plays that well, but watching him self destruct as the pressure mounted and he saw the opportunity of the scout watching him slip away was fantastic.

The Tyra/Billy Party Inc. story had a couple problems. It's one thing for a group of high school kids to get together a keg and throw a party. But something the size of this party, full of high school kids, strippers, cover charge, how is that not busted by the cops? The good that did come out of the forced story angle was a little fleshing out of Billy, and along with it, some background on why Tim lives with him. I did like the line about Tim's failed golf career, "So what? It's the terrorists fault?"

Speaking of Tim, I like where the story is going. Finally getting some direction, despite all the distractions and troubles he faces has potential for a good story. He did get another of those just doesn't ring true story bits though. I can roll with Tim having a drinking problem, the bad home life, the screwed up Lyla/Tyra relationships. But him walking around the pep rally drinking beer? Isn't that pushing it a little far? Nitpicky I suppose, but it stood out. His speech after the game was good just as a standalone thing, but even better when put in the context of what is coming between him and Street.

It almost feels like the Street story is taking place on a different time line than the rest of the show. I don't know a lot about spinal injuries, paralysis, and recovery times, but doesn't he seem to be bouncing back awfully quick? Of course, Street stuck in bed wearing a halo for six months wouldn't make for the best story, so I guess we let that slide. It was good to see Mr. and Mrs. Street again. That was something I thought had been lacking. Both the scene before the game, and the one in the locker room after were great moments for Street.

I'm curious about the Lucas character. Was he brought in just to show how isolated the kids are by being the heroes in the small town? Or will he be coming back to cause more headaches for coach Taylor? There wasn't a lot of time for Eric this week, but what we did get was really good. I liked both of his scenes with Smash. Kyle Chandler just owns the screen. "You don't play for UT! You play Dillon Panther High School football and you play for me!" The homecoming game itself was done just right. It looked great, and took just enough time to tell the story. Bonus points for using Nazareth's "Hair of the dog" as the soundtrack for Riggins leading the comeback. Good stuff.

And finally, Saracen and Julie. They teased in the previously on clips that they would be getting back to that, and given that it was homecoming, it seemed likely. Although, another nitpick, wouldn't the homecoming dance be more of a big deal for the kids? I think an opportunity might have been missed to have Saracen take Julie to the dance, all nervous in his suit picking her up from the coach's house. The scene we did get was good though, even if it did leave us hanging. Saracen is just so nervous, "Will you go on a date with me? Maybe. Or not. I just thought I'd throw that out there." Great stuff with Landry and Saracen this week as well, although I hoped we would see something of the reconciliation.

All in all, this wasn't my favorite episode. There were just too many little things that didn't quite work. In the bigger picture of the series though, it did deliver a lot of pieces that will figure in, so it certainly wasn't a bad episode. The Panthers have a bye week coming up, so look for another new episode in two weeks.

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Wow, your review could have been written by me (er, the sentiments expressed, not the actual writing part). I finally convinced some friends to tune in to the show and naturally it was the weakest episode of the season. *groan* Now it will be hard to get them back. Hated the 5 different storylines going on with no depth to any of them. Of the good, loved the potential breakout of Riggins into the land of sobriety and potential football greatness. Hated the steroid storyline with the heat of a thousand crackpipes.

Partying in the field, disdaining the homecoming dance, the drunk football player...all of this was spot on from my own high school years.

November 16 2006 at 8:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave T.

I'm pretty sure they had an off week right? and I think the mom said 6 weeks since the injury being game one. What's the team's record? you'd think they'd throw that around once in awhile right?

November 15 2006 at 5:49 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm pretty sure they said last night that this was only the 4th game of the season.

November 15 2006 at 4:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I didn't catch the comment by Street's parents about how long ago the accident was though 2 months does seem more reasonable if he is a few weeks into rehab and becoming more mobile. Yes there are games every week...but I think for purposes of the show they are only highlighting the significant games (i.e. season opener, rivalry games, homecoming, and probably 1 or 2 more regular season games). The reason for doing this would be that in the course of 20 or so episodes...the season would be over by no more than the 16th episode as that is the highest number of games a team in Texas can play to win the state championship. Since the announcers said that they needed to win this game to keep playoff hopes alive, I'm figuring it's probably into week 8 or 9 of the 10 game regular season and we'll see 1 or 2 more games as they make a push for the playoffs. This is also how the FNL movie that Peter Berg did progressed. Though it was a bit more football oriented and included quick shots of them rolling over opponents in district and even in their first few playoff games.

And I'm still laughing this afternoon about the Abilene reference. I was telling one of my best friends about it and she is going to start watching the show now just because of their humor regarding Abilene. To anybody in West Texas that knows of Abilene this comment was absolutely priceless.

November 15 2006 at 3:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Didn't Street's dad (or mom) say that his accident had occurred 2 months earlier? Yet this is only the third or fourth game of the season? I assumed they played every Friday night. Am I getting this wrong, or is the timeline really messed up?

November 15 2006 at 1:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Love

Thanks for the explanation Forrest. DaveT and I must have had very different homecomings. When Tyra's sister mentioned that everybody would be at the dance, I thought it would be a much bigger deal. It seemed like that should have been a major thing for someone liky Lyla.

Riggins drinking at the pep rally just seemed over the top. They've done a good job showing that everyone knows he's drinking a lot, but they turn a blind eye so long as it doesn't cause any problems. But walking around drinking openly in front of the whole town, the crazy mayor was even there, seemed a little much.

They are all minor quibbles though. The show is still moving along very well.

November 15 2006 at 1:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

To explain a few of the questions you had on the episode:

1. The Tyra/Billy Party Inc. story had a couple problems. It's one thing for a group of high school kids to get together a keg and throw a party. But something the size of this party, full of high school kids, strippers, cover charge, how is that not busted by the cops? - Welcome to any town in Texas not in Dallas, Austin, Houston, or San Antonio. Though Dillon is portrayed as a 5A school (which would be a town of 50-75k if it's a 1 school town)...a lot of the small town traits still exist here. Being from Texas, I can assure you that parties such as this happen quite regularly in high school and college and very rarely do the cops bust them. As long as the kids are waking up the neighbors and are well behaved, then you typically won't find any law enforcement involved. The location they chose was almost spot on with a few exceptions. Usually the party takes place on somebody's land in the middle of the field as far away from the gates as possible. Also, there would be somebody at the gate to make sure people are getting in and paying to keep long lines of cars from building up. Miniscule things...but they stick out to me.

2. But him walking around the pep rally drinking beer? Isn't that pushing it a little far? - Yes...for today's society that is probably pushing it a bit too far. Then again, that wasn't your typical pep rally in the school gym. It was the homecoming pep rally that was off campus and taking place later in the day. Thus, you're more likely to see something like this occur. Unlikely? Yes. Unrealistic...sad to say but no it's not.

3. Although, another nitpick, wouldn't the homecoming dance be more of a big deal for the kids? - Homecoming dances at a lot of schools in Texas are not what you might be thinking. They typically aren't your formal dances like a prom, winter formal, etc. They tend to be casual, after the game things in the school gym or cafeteria...if they even happen at all. A lot of schools don't have them or will instead have some sort of 5th quarter party set up after the game. Once the games are over on Fridays the students will go their seperate ways...wherever that might be.

The funniest moment of the show IMO was when Billy was referring to Abilene, TX as the "land of opportunity." I grew up in Abilene (a town of about 125k) and went to college there. It is definitely not some big party town as the portray it to be. Abilene has the highest # of churches per capita of any city over 100,000 people in the United States. It has three private, christian universities with a combined enrollment of about 10,000 people. There are 4 or 5 regular bars spread out over town that kids will flock to...and the bars close at 12AM every day of the week except Saturdays, when they close at 1AM. The fact that the writers chose Abilene just cracked me up. I had to pause my DVR so that I could calm down enough to call my friends so that I could laugh some more.

It was funny because at the beginning of the episode, I was telling a friend how I really like Smash's character. Yes he initially came across as your typical cocky, ignorant football type. However, once he was placed alongside Voodoo Tatum you realized that he was a good hardworking kid that knew he had a gift and was proud of what he could accomplish. To choose him for the steroids angle...wow that really disappointed me. I sure hope it's just a one-time thing in the next episode and doesn't continue to surface and cause problems for him in the future.

November 15 2006 at 12:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dave T.

I think the former QB storyline was just to show how these guys could get washed up. my wife and I were wondering what coach wouldn't follow the career of one of his stars though?

smash and steroids also upset me because it seems like a cheap "drama" type storyline. but everyday you read more and more high schoolers are doing it and he certainly has motivation to.

no homecoming dance! really? that was beyond strange. the party in the middle of nowhere is believable that is how raves used to operate.

November 15 2006 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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