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October 6, 2015

Friday Night Lights: Mud Bowl

by Brett Love, posted Mar 29th 2007 9:21AM
Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler(S01E20) As the season winds down for the Panthers, the focus turns more to football. As has been the case for the show all season though, there is much more going on than just another football game. It's an interesting line that the show walks. Things like last minute comebacks and a semi-final game in a renovated cow pasture run the risk of seeming contrived. Fortunately, they managed to pull it off in an interesting way.

Let's start with the game. I liked that the rains came and the game turned into a big sloppy mess where neither team could score. More points for how they handled Saracen's performance as well. The tutoring he received from Street over the past couple weeks provided some technique, but more importantly it also brought a needed confidence boost. That, combined with a game ending bootleg was a good way for the Panthers to win. Watching him stumble his way through the mud and puddles fit right in with both the conditions and how he has grown as a player. He is now that guy that can seize the moment.

As to the cow pasture, I liked it for what it represented in Eric. Through all of the ups and downs in the Panther season Eric has always been a little uncomfortable with all of the stuff that gets glommed on to the side of the football. Most notably, Buddy Garrity, but it goes deeper than that. This certainly was him making a statement, and it's one worth making. I think it is also something that could come back and effect his decision about where to coach next year as well. If he thinks Buddy Garrity and little Dillon, Texas are a handful, wait 'til he gets a load of a college booster program. It's also worth mentioning the scene with Tami and Eric in the pasture. Honestly, I just can't get enough of these two on my television.

As for Street, as the season for the show winds down, it's time to start wrapping up some of the loose ends left from earlier. That brought us a couple answers where Street's story is concerned. I think everyone was expecting the inquiry from Eric about whether Street had ever considered coaching. It was still nice to hear it. On the other hand, I was somewhat surprised by the result of the lawsuit. I was operating under the assumption that at some point Street would take control of the affair, like he did, but I thought he would just call the whole thing off.

It was nice to see him stand up to everyone and bring it all to an end. And I really liked that little exchange between Street and Eric as the meeting came to an end. Just a look, but it carried a lot of information. Eric was thanking Street for what he just did, but underneath that you could once again see his admiration for the man Street is becoming. Of course, he's not all grown up yet, as his ongoing issues with Lyla demonstrate. At this point I think it is just a matter of both of them accepting that it isn't right and moving on, to the benefit of both of them.

Also finding some answers, or at least on the path to those answers, was Waverly. Lyla's advice for her to go talk to Tami was sound, and would have made for a good scene I'm sure. As much as I like Tami though, I like that she is going to Mrs. Williams for help. She's not one of the major characters, so we haven't seen as much of her as some of the other Dillonites, but every time she's been on the screen she's been terrific. That was a nice scene for Smash as he struggled to do the right thing. He's completely out of his element, but trying.

The romance between Tim Riggins and Jackie continues to grow, but to what end? Billy spoke for more than a few of us, I'm sure, when he said that this can't end well. I don't know. He's probably right, but stranger things have happened. No matter which way it goes, I'm looking forward to watching it unfold. Taylor Kitsch and Brooke Langton are good together, and even goofy little Bo is starting to grow on me.

Finally, we get to the Tyra and Landry story. I have mixed feelings about this one. I really liked the way it started. The determined Landry once again makes a completely ignored attempt to get Tyra's attention. Not to be deterred, he makes his way to the library to 'bump into' her. His little speech about why he would be a good tutor was great. I especially liked the line about the catch 22 of needing the algebra to build the time machine, and his reference to his adventure with Riggins, "Did your tutor teach Tim Riggins to read in a day and a half?" It was all very cute and fun.

What happened later was both terrifying and heart breaking. Terrifying because of the way they shot the attack. It was so up close and personal it brought the audience right into Tyra's trauma. It didn't come as a surprise that she was able to protect herself though. She's a tough girl. And it was heart breaking because of the journey we have been on with Tyra. It's hard not to root for her. To see her hurt like that is crushing. And to see all of Landry's hopes dashed in an instant just adds to it. But all of that was good. Big drama is one of the things we watch for. The problem though, it just didn't fit.

To me, the whole thing felt like it was shoehorned into the episode. They had this great idea for moving these two characters together with this dramatic moment, but where to put it? This wasn't the place. To start, I like that Tami got through to Tyra and she is taking her studies seriously now, but do I really buy that it includes skipping the biggest game of the year, so far, to study? Not really. You could sell me on Landry giving up on watching the game because of his infatuation with Tyra. The whole thing just felt a little off though. It would have been better served taking place earlier in the episode, or being pushed to the next one. Maybe I'm being too critical, but this show has set the bar very high, and I expect a lot from it now.

After all of that, and with that one negative in mind, I'd still call this a very good episode. Another win for the Panthers and all the dominoes lined up for the big push to the end of the season.

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I missed the first 15 minutes or so can anyone tell me what happened?

April 05 2007 at 12:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I watch as many shows on Tuesday/Wednesday as the rest of the week combined, so a lot of those shows get recorded and I wait to watch them later. I always watch other stuff before FNL cause I know if something happens to my recording I can check it out on the NBC website, but every week I find myself enjoying this show more than pretty much everything else I watch earlier.

I'm with Rick (#20) about the attempted rape being perfectly timed. In addition to the game providing a reason for emptiness of the place, I thought it worked well with the pacing of the show. As it was about to happen, I was thinking "no, no, go back to the game," and then when they finally did go back to the game I was thinking "no, go back to Tyra!" And not only did it keep the tension high all through those scenes, the contrast between the team's elation and her trauma was nice, I thought.

I keep reading that NBC is going back to the old Grant Tinker mantra of "first be best, then be first." Tinker was the president of NBC when they kept Cheers around after it was one of the lowest rated shows on television in its first season, and turned the network into the moneymaking machine it was in the 80s by staying committed to shows they thought were good. And apparently a lot of NBC execs are FNL fans (and 30 Rock fans), which is making people fairly optimistic for both shows.


March 30 2007 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That was by far the absolute perfect place and time in the episode for the Tyra Landry story to unfold. The fact that the entire town was at the game helped to set up that she was completely alone and foreshadowed with Landry not being able to get his car started added to the tension.

If they did that at any other point in time there are very few places for her to have been that vulnerable. No forcing at all GREAT placement

March 30 2007 at 9:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I really don't think I could ever love a TV show more than I love this one. It's just amazingly well done, but makes me FORGET that it's well done. I get totally sucked in every single time. Love love love it.

March 29 2007 at 10:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The scene with Tyra, while may have seemed out of place, would not have worked in another episode. The usually bustling diner was empty because everyone was at the game. This left Tyra exposed and vulnerable to the creepy guy just looking for someone like her on a night like that.

I LOVE this show. I did not start watching it until February, but was able to catch up on reruns during a FNL marathon on BRAVO. I think that the chemistry between Kyle and Connie is some of the best on TV right now. I find myself really invested in so many different characters on this show. The writers do a great job of giving you reasons to care about even the most damaged of souls.

Thanks for the review. I hope this show stays.

March 29 2007 at 7:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Did anyone notice that Landry was carry a copy of "Our Bodies, Ourselves" when he was in the library "bumping" into Tyra? "Our Bodies, Ourselves" is a book on women's health. Usually there isn't much of a reason for a guy to be carrying around that book. I just thought it was funny.

March 29 2007 at 4:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That was a great episode. I agree the attempted rape scene seemed crowded into the hour, but that was such a twist to the story. It's a good chance for the Landry character to realize how women need to be valued for more than their looks.

March 29 2007 at 3:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"do I really buy that it includes skipping the biggest game of the year, so far, to study?"

I really do. As Jupiter-2 said, we've seen Tyra attend games before but that was because she was with Tim.
When she met the guy from LA with whom she had a one night stand, she gave him a "I hate football" rant.

Tyra not attending a game is quite normal imo.

I loathe the Tim/neighbour storyline with the fire of a billion supernovas. I've hated the teen/adult story in every other show and FNL is not doing it any better.
I don't care about the age difference, I don't care they're fuck buddies of sorts or if they fall madly in love , just get it off my screen.
No amount of shirtless Tim can make me stomach that crap and I am the shallow kind. That's a shit load of hate right there, I tell ya.

I loved Lyla unleashing at Jason. I like the kid and he's entitled to have a pity party but it felt extremely good to have Lyla finally dish back as bad as she got.

Tami and Eric make my screen melt.

I still cannot stand Saracen. *pets fast forward button*

Smash finally grew on me last week and he was great this week too.

All in all great episode.

March 29 2007 at 2:36 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've thought that all along- how are they going to do this show for a second season when a good portion of the cast graduates? I assume Smash/Waverly/Matt/Julie/Landry will all be around, and I suspect the graduating seniors probably won't get out of their small town because it's a Texas small town, but what the heck will the show do with those people? Plus, what happens in the inevitable time jump that'll have to go on to bring us back to the next football season?

Course, given the previews for next week, who the hell knows what'll go on there.

Yeah, Tyra's unexpected near-rape freaked me the hell out. I'm proud she got away without needing male assistance, and I was proud of Landry for being there. Maybe that's supposed to bring them together, I dunno. But I hated that it happened to the tough girl. It also seemed out of place, it's happening too late in the season to really have that much impact plotwise.

I enjoyed Waverly and Lyla with guns. That was awesome. Then Smash's reaction to Waverly with guns, and ending with her talking to his mother.

March 29 2007 at 1:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This is my first post, but I have been a fan of the show since Day 1. I grew up in South Texas, and a lot of the show brings back memories for me. However, the thing that has endeared me most to this show is the quality of the relationships. I love the coach and his wife and how they relate to each other, and I like the innocence of Julie and Matt (especially when set alongside the sordid trials of Riggins, Lyla, Tyra, and even Street).

As for the ages, I think the poster above is almost exactly right. I seem to recall from Episodes 1 and 2 that Street, Riggins, Lyla, and Tyra are all Seniors. Smash is a junior (remember when he was trying to impress the guy who puts out a list of the "hot prospects", and he wanted to make sure he did enough this year to be on the list next year, when he will be looking for a college). Saracen and Landry are sophomores (the announcer said Saracen was a soph when he came off the bench when Street got injured). I thought they said that Julie was a freshman in a very early episode. Cycling in compelling new characters will definitely be a challenge if the show goes on long term, but right now let's just get a renewal from NBC for next year.

On to a matter of trivia -- has anyone paid attention to the number of uniform combinations the Panthers have used? For a small town, they sure went all out. I know there have been at least 2 different blue jerseys (one with block "PANTHERS", the other with script "Panthers"), and there may have been 2 different white jerseys. Seeing them in all white for the mud bowl was pure Hollywood (since their home kit is usually blue tops with white pants), but it was fun anyway. With all of those jerseys in play, you would think that Under Armour and NBC would figure out a way to make at least one of them available for purchase. I have written to NBC on that one, but have received no response. Hard to believe those 2 companies would let a merchandising (and profitable) opportunity slip by.

March 29 2007 at 12:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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