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August 28, 2015

'Friday Night Lights' Season 4 Preview: It's a Whole New Ball Game

by Allyssa Lee, posted May 6th 2010 12:50PM

Football season may still be a long way off, but 'Friday Night Lights' is just getting ready for kick-off. And in order to prepare you for the NBC premiere of the critically-acclaimed series' fourth season (which already aired on DirecTV in the fall), here's a little recap of where the show left off, and what to expect when the Texas drama bows May 7.

Season 3, as you may recall, ended with a game-changer. Despite leading the Dillon Panthers to the Texas high school state championship game, Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) was left to fight for his job when Joe McCoy (controlling father to Dillon's star quarterback J.D.) made a brazen power move to get his puppet coach Wade Aikman into the head slot.

As impassioned as Coach Taylor's plea was, the school board voted for Wade, then offered Taylor the head football coach position at the newly-reinstated East Dillon High School.

Meanwhile, Tyra (Adrianne Palitic) got accepted into college in Austin, and Lyla (Minka Kelly) was off to Vanderbilt. Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) gave up art school in Chicago to stay with his grandmother in Dillon. Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) also wanted to stick around Dillon, but was talked into going to college by his just-married brother, Billy.

This new season presents a whole new ball game, as the town is now divided. Coach Taylor has traded in his Panther blue for East Dillon red, and he has to build a whole new team from scratch.

The journey he faces is not only steep and rocky, but one that he'll have to tackle largely on his own -- his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), remains principal of Dillon, and eldest daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) still attends school there. He soon discovers that the doors won't open as easily for him in this less-privileged part of town.

With Tyra, Lyla and Tim Riggins graduated, there's a new crop of fresh faces to fill the student-athlete void. Joining Jordan on the roster this season are Matt Lauria ('Lipstick Jungle') as a football star with some boundary issues and Jurnee Smollett ('The Great Debaters') as a student who befriends a re-zoned Landry (Jesse Plemons) at East Dillon.

Matt Saracen has to adjust to life after high school in his small hometown, while Tim Riggins discovers that higher education may not be his calling, after all.

After Coach Taylor has gotten the locker room into sporting shape, he has to do the same with his motley crew of players, which more resemble the 'Bad News Bears' than a pride of Lions. Coach quickly cottons on to the fact that gems like would-be quarterback Vince (Michael B. Jordan from 'The Wire') can be found in even the unlikeliest of places.

Watch two preview clips from NBC.

Are you ready for 'Friday Night Lights'?

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I think the problem is your taste my friend, not the show. Who in their right mind would think one of the greatest seasons in television history (season 3) is awful? And for those of you who have waited til now, you're in for a treat in season 4.

May 07 2010 at 4:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Brett's comment

Possible spoilers about season 4 (it already aired)

Season 3 was painful. Just ridiculously painful. You would say Season 3 was better than Season 1? What transpired in Season 1 was like no other TV drama on Network TV. Yeah, there are things like The Wire which transcend the medium but really Season 1 was uncanny. The struggles, the pain, the realism. Season 1 had moments of insane tug-at-the-heart.

By Season 3 we had a whole batch of stupid:

Tim Riggins is a senior. That made no sense as he and Streets were best friends growing up and believed they would always play together. We're to believe a FB from Season 1 who essentially bossed around just about everyone was a Sophomore? No.

That feeds into the Lyla is suddenly a Sr. too. In Season 1 she'd been dating streets for years. Well hold on, when did they start dating? He's a senior in Season 1 and the series starts in September of that year. So Lyla started dating streets in junior high? Star football player is dating 6th or 7th grader?

Tyra - again, made a senior and it's totally out of whack with what her character was doing in Seasons 1 and 2.

Tammy as principal. Flat out going from counselor to head chief is silly. This was an offensive liberty taken by the writers and an insult to viewer's intelligence.

So all that aside, Season 4 steps up with new players:

Vince - common street thug on probation (thankfully that story begins to disappear), crackhead mom, friends who are a bad influence. Yeah, yeah, we've seen it all before. The actor who plays Vince actually had a much better role in The Wire as Wallace and that role could have been cliche but the writers handled it better.

Luke Cafferty - just the whole pious farmboy, do it because I love the game thing is really annoying. But add in the whole subplot with Becky and his family and it all goes movie-of-the-week. Just very heavy-handed and it makes so many people look like caricatures.

Becky - loathe her. Her story - bad mother, absent father, has been done to death and everything the character does is predictable. Unlike Season 1, there are no shocking behaviours or choices. Just the by-the-numbers.

Jess - just a snooze of a character. History with vince, dad is a former star but now bitter, takes a shine to Landry. Nothing the least bit remarkable or new in this character type - works hard for daddy, takes care of brothers, is a cheerleader (when would she practice?).

Season 4 had a few bright spots. Saracen's arc was nicely done. Riggins was decent (and disappointing as it should have been). The new coach from Sears was hilarious and had the potential for being interesting. Buddy continued to be an enigma.

May 08 2010 at 7:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Better than season 3 (which was awful) but not even close to season 1 in quality. So many characters need to be removed and the new cast members overwhelmingly sucks (their stories are cliche-riddled).

The creativity behind Saracen, Riggins, Streets is gone and in its place is a kid from the hood with a crackhead mom, a dumb Tara wannabe (without Tara's charm or pain), a really dorky cowboy RB and the still ludicrous notion of Tammy as principle.

May 07 2010 at 4:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Shhhh. Lets pretend that these episodes are brand new and didn't air on some other channel six months ago.

May 06 2010 at 1:27 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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