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Friday Night Lights: The season so far, part 2

by Allison Waldman, posted Nov 24th 2008 1:13PM
Kyle C FridayThe best NBC drama currently in production hasn't been doing much to help the Nielsen ratings. That's because the show, Friday Night Lights, isn't being shown on NBC right now. Season three has been unspooling on DirecTV and after eight episodes, the award-winning series is in the midst of a top-notch season.

In fact, after somewhat coming off the rails last season with Landry and Tyra's murder plot, Riggins and Street in Mexico, and Matt's involvement with Grandma's nurse, this year's shows are focused, complex and definitely back on track.

That starts with Tami and Eric. Coach Taylor remains as coiled as ever, only now the pressure to succeed seems even more intense because of the emergence of J.D. McCoy, the phenom freshman quarterback. J.D.'s pushy father and personal quarterback coach tick Eric off, but he likes the kid and has demoted Matt in order to give the more talented player a chance.

On the homefront (not to be confused with Kyle Chandler's previous show, which I loved!), Tami's got a bad case of "keeping up with the Joneses," and she's been urging Eric to look at an expensive new house for the Taylor family.

In a scene that typifies their relationship, after seeing the house twice and sharing a moment to dream about what life would be like if they could live in the place, Eric tells her that they just can't swing it. Tami doesn't yell, she doesn't groan, she hugs her husband and accepts reality.

Two important characters have graduated in these episodes; Smash Williams and Jason Street. I especially liked the latter storyline with Jason finally coming to terms with his future. He has been searching for a purpose since he was paralyzed in season one.

Now that he's a father, Jason has been determined to find a way to be a part of his son's life. After organizing the flip of the Gerrity house -- no mean feat when the Riggins brothers and Herc are your knucklehead business partners -- Jason has a chance meeting with sports agent and it gives him the idea to use his love for football and his ability with people to become an agent. The sight of Riggins and Street in Times Square -- where Jason goes to get a job with the guy -- was something else. But the argument about whether they should or shouldn't go to see Gypsy, topped it. Riggins makes me laugh.

In both the Crash and Street case, friendship was the key. Coach Taylor made it his mission to get Smash rehabbed and back to football, even though their was nothing in it for him beyond doing the right thing by the young man. Riggins, in his own direct way, gave Jason the key to convincing the agent to give him a chance. When Riggins and Street said goodbye, it was the essence of a true TV bromance.

Julie and Matt have come back together, to the point that she's even helped him to move forward with a shift from QB to receiver. Matt's buddy, Landry, meanwhile thought he was getting over Tyra with Devon. But Dev's not the girl Landry thinks she is and there's nothing wrong with that.

My one complaint is Tyra. Her whirlwind romance with Cash, the rodeo guy, feels like a step in the wrong direction. She's quickly frustrated after a single college interview and seems to be abandoning her dreams for a better life than her mom and sister.

Overall, though, Friday Night Lights would be my bet for a certain nomination as Outstanding Drama Series in next year's Emmys. NBC would be wise to air the series in early 2009 and, I hope, find a spot on the schedule where it can thrive. This show is too good to be ignored by the majority of TV watchers. Oh, did you notice that I didn't once talk about the Panthers winning or losing? It's not that I didn't notice, it's just that football is not the most important thing in this show.

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This is one of the best dramas on TV. I look forward to the next season. I especially like Santiago, his character has a lot of depth and he is a really good actor.

November 28 2008 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Allison, I think your line "But Dev's not the girl Landry thinks she is and there's nothing wrong with that." meant to be "But Dev's not the girl Landry thinks she is, NOT that there's anything wrong with that." ;-)

YouFace, I pretty much agree with everything you said but most of that was covered in part 1. I've just accepted this was where the writers wanted to go and live with it regarding the ages. What's more funny is if it weren't for the college's recruitment of Smash in S2 I would have thought him and Matt were both in the same year.

I've enjoyed the later eps more so then the 1st few. The writers are definitely getting some of the S1 greatness back, but not to the consistency that it had.

November 25 2008 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John Stewart

I haven't seen Friday Night Lights, but I miss seeing Kyle Chandler in Early Edition. I love that show.

November 25 2008 at 4:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Things that suck about Season 3:

1. Principal Tami = lame. A guidance counselor doesn't become principal.
2. Riggins is supposed to be a senior now? Why the f^ck would Streets be best friends with a sophomore with Tim in season 1? He's supposed to be a sophomore star FB who drinks hard and parties all the time? Silly, silly, silly.
3. Lila is suddenly back in HS? What is that about. She supposedly had been with Streets for YEARS. Did he start dating a 7th grader when he was a sophomore? Was Streets developmentally disabled - he hung out, if we believe Season 3, with kids and only kids.
4. Tyra is a senior just now? Again, Season 1 you could almost believe she was a Jr. and Riggins too but not sophomores. They had too much history.
5. Lack of Eric Taylor. Flat out not enough with him. Too much focus on Tyra and the cowboy.
6. Landry has disappeared for much of the season and so has Matt.
7. JD as a frosh and his stereotypical dad.
8. Riggns and Lila = lame
9. Lila ditching her born again nonsense and there's no mention of it.
10. Buddy's humanizing through Santiago.

Good things in Season 3:
Some conflict with Tami/Eric. Landry and the cute bandmate are fun to watch. Matt losing his QB1 position. Riggins and his brother struggling.

I love FNL and the characters but honestly, this season lacks the heart, conflict, fun, heart-ache and all around greatness of season 1. Even season 2 - murder and all - was far better than all the craptastic stuff in Season 3.

November 24 2008 at 11:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

His name is Smash Williams, not Crash.

November 24 2008 at 6:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who's Debbie? Landry's brief flirtation was with Devon.

November 24 2008 at 5:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

yes, i love how they are finishing some of the story lines. the best was when smash asked coach taylor why he's he wants him to succeed, he said, "I want something good to happen", thinking about street's tragedy and the future of these kids after HS football. great stuff!

How can the show continue since Street and Williams are gone, Riggins should be gone next year? The show will have to intro new players (JD isn't that interesting), and eric and tami will have to carry more of the show.

November 24 2008 at 3:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Steve Young

It's been a great season and the show is clearly still one of the best on TV - it's a shame it's so under-appreciated.

November 24 2008 at 2:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I can't wait to watch season 3!

November 24 2008 at 2:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Oh and I totally agree with Doug, JD's dad is a stereotypical football dad. I remember when I was watching the newer Friday Night Lights (http://www.hollywood.com/tv/Friday_Night_Lights/5206052) I remember thinking the same thing. Working for Hollywood.com exposes to me to a lot of shows, but this one was close to home for me. I remember going through a lot of those issues with coaches and my parents too. if you're not familiar with it, check out the homepage on the site. It's a great show.

November 24 2008 at 2:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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