Friday Night Lights
I was skeptical of the DirecTV arrangement before they did it this season, because I was afraid it would ruin the season for people like me, who don't subscribe to the satellite service. However, I have been able, with minimal effort, to avoid even small spoilers for season 3.
While I agree with Hemal that FNL has an uphill battle with several of its key characters graduating this year, I disagree with her assertion that it shouldn't be renewed because of it. What makes Friday Night Lights so great is the cast, but even more than that, it's the way the writers have crafted the characters and storylines. Sure, JD McCoy is no Tim Riggins, but I have faith that the show will find its way. I only hope that more viewers will find their way to it.
To be precise, they're two 13-episode seasons. But that's a lot better than what the news was looking like just a few weeks ago. Michael Ausiello reports that the news will be announced "any day now." It confirms news that he broke a couple of weeks ago.
Look, I love the show as much as a die-hard fan can. I've gone so far as to inquire about getting my own Dillon Panther t-shirt. I think Tami and Coach Taylor are the best couple on television. I live by the edict WWCTD (What Would Coach Taylor Do). Yet, despite my need to have"I-heart-Tim-Riggins" tattooed onto my forearm, they still shouldn't bring this show back for another two seasons.
Before fans start the dog-pile, let me make my case after the jump.
Update: For folks (like me) who haven't seen the season already on Direct TV, tread carefully in the comments. They contain spoilers.
I talked to Stacey while she was out in LA (her first time there, she said) and asked her what all FNL fans really want to know. After the jump, Stacey talks about her hopes for another season, the backstage antics of the cast, and why Taylor Kitsch can't keep his pants on.
(S03E02) That episode title gets right to the heart of one of the main stories this week. Although, perhaps it should have been followed by a question mark. The backlash from Tami's decision to nix the jumbotron, which we all knew was coming, started this week, and things don't look so good for our favorite principal. Meanwhile, Brian continued to search for Smash, Tyra went back to basics for her campaign, Tim and Lyla continued the vicious cycle, and we got a little peek into Matt Saracen's past. It all made for a very good hour of television.
(S03E01) And so begins phase two of NBC's grand Friday Night Lights experiment. The show kicked off it's third season on NBC Friday night, but all of these episodes have already been shown on DirecTV. Allison reviewed the premiere back in October, but we thought we'd run it up the flagpole again and see who salutes.
Despite the delay for those of us without DirecTV, the season premiere made it so easy to slip right back into the series. Most of our favorite Dillonites are back, and we were quickly brought up to speed with what each of them has been up to. We also got a good look at where a lot of these stories will be heading.
1. Netflix Watch Instantly
I've had Netflix basically since its inception, but with all of the TV that I watch, my Netflix movies have had a bad habit of collecting dust for months (I finally sent No Country for Old Men back after about six months on top of my DVD player). Even though I've known about the Watch Instantly feature for a while, I've never actually tried it out. I just watched Friday Night Lights Season 2, and let me tell you. it's so nice to just hit "Next" and have all of the episodes right there without having to change disks. Does that make me ridiculously lazy? Probably. I don't care.
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.
What makes Friday Night Lights work so well is that the conflicts are real and more often than not relevant and relatable. The questions are good vs. bad, right vs. wrong...the questions are posed as choices. Nothing is black and white. Buddy Garrity wants all the best for Dillon High. He's not a bad guy. His goal for the school this year is a big, beautiful Jumbotron scoreboard. That's a good thing, right?
That said, NBC will be back with these same Friday Night Light episodes -- season three -- at mid-season. Therefore, for people like me with the DirecTV dish, we're getting the shows in advance. TV Squad has decided to review the season premiere -- including spoilers -- so please, if you want to wait and be surprised, be forewarned. On the other hand, if you want to know what's happened since the end of last season, follow me after the jump.
(And if you're a true Colts fan, you'd better watch too -- especially if you're a Nielsen viewer. Or else, um, you might jinx him and cause the team to lose the Super Bowl.)
As you may have heard, FNL will air exclusively on DirecTV this fall (and repeat on NBC in early 2009. Yeah, it's a pain if you don't get DirecTV (like me), but subscribers will be happy to learn they'll be able to watch commercial-free.
NBC and its various cable stations are making their presentations today and tomorrow. Since it is Sunday, the critics got a little bit of a break and didn't have to start until noon, when a lunch session was held for Friday Night Lights. This session had a little bit of added juice, due to the unique deal NBC struck to have DirecTV shoulder the cost of producing the series in exchange for the rights to air new episodes on the satellite service first, before they air on NBC. Thirteen episodes will be produced and will air in October on DirecTV's 101 Network, and they'll air in February on the Peacock network.
Not surprisingly, there were as many questions about the new arrangement as there were about the creative aspects of the show. Show-runner Jason Katims and DirecTV entertainment head Eric Shanks fielded most of those questions, and the cast of the show fielded the rest.
I've said it before, I'm a sucker for a series that casts actors from my favorite shows. It's really all it takes to get me to watch something at least once. I suppose that means I'm going to have to give Leverage at least a three episode run. Look at that cast photo. Christian Kane from Angel, Gina Bellman from Coupling, and Aldis Hodge from Friday Night Lights. And as a bonus, Timothy Hutton. That's a pretty good start.
If that's not enough, one of the executive producers is John Rogers. TNT lists him as being from Cosby, but I remember him for writing and producing one of the best pilots that didn't go to series that I've ever seen, Global Frequency.
It's a question that popped up even before our pals in Dillon had their premiere. What are they going to do when these kids start graduating? Well, we have an answer now, and I'm not sure it's going to be embraced by everyone. EW's Michael Ausiello reports that Gaius Charles (Smash) and Scott Porter (Street) have been moved to recurring status.
Producer Jason Katims released a statement that says both characters will get four episode arcs to move them into the next chapter of their lives. Presumably, those would be chapters that won't be captured by the handheld Friday Night Lights cams. The cynic in me can't help thinking that this has as much to do with the shaky nature of the FNL renewal as it does with being able to work these characters into the show. After all, the idea of budget cuts after the strange Direct TV deal isn't an outlandish one. That being said, the explanation is reasonable. They were going to have to address the graduation dilemma eventually.
This recurring character is said to be introduced in a scene set at a museum. Hiro meets the woman at the museum and asks her if she has powers and is using them to steal art. As expected, Joy will lie to our beloved hero Hiro and leave the scene with a few paintings. Is she part of the villains or is she one of the good guys and somehow lost her way? Only time will tell!
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