Thursday, October 26, 2006

TGI Friday Night Lights

A couple of people have written to find out why I hadn't followed up on my purported interest in Kyle Chandler's new high school football drama, "Friday Night Lights." A few things conspired to keep me from watching it the past few weeks, but as of last night I'm all caught up on the four episodes that have aired to date.

Despite my enormously high expectations and the hype surrounding it, I was not disappointed one bit. In fact, it somehow managed to be better than I expected. (For those who aren't familiar with the book or movie of the same name, it's about the trials and tribulations of a new coach coming to work in a small West Texas town that lives and dies by its high school football). I immediately fell in love with Coach's wife, Tami. She brings a much-needed balance to the show's hypermasculine storyline For the life of me couldn't figure out where I knew the actress who plays her from then I finally figured out that she's Connie Britton, who was wonderful as the wife wronged Molly in Ed Burns first film, "The Brothers McMullen." The girl who plays their daughter is great too.

Taylor Kitsch (on sofa) as bad boy Tim Riggins is about the hottest guy on primetime television, and the gal who plays good girl cheerleader Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly) is a very impressive young actress with incredible range. Zach Gilford as backup QB Matt Saracen -- the kid with way too much on his plate -- is also a standout (as well as a cutie, below).

Zach Gilford, above.

Kyle Chandler and Taylor Kitsch have a heart-to-heart in the rain.

Having gotten a semi-late start watching the show you can only imagine my horror when I read in The Washington Post that it's already "ratings starved" and in danger of being canceled (has this ever not happened with a show I've watched? (See "The Comeback" and "Sons & Daughters" and so on.) I spoke to a couple of people who have watched it and they all agree that it's "very well-done," yet many of them said they weren't completely "into it" yet. Despite America's obsession with sports (particularly football) it was ironic to me that many of them -- straight men at work, no less -- cited a lack of interest in the football aspect of the show. Go figure -- I've read that NBC is "standing by" the show for now and even giving it a special airing on Monday night after one of their bigger hits. Check it out and let me know what you think. (WP)


Erik said...

I really like your blog, I think this might be my first comment. Anyway, I've been telling my friends to watch this Friday Night Lights too. I love it. It's the only show on TV right now that makes me laugh and cry every episode.

I wasn't expecting to love this show--because I hate sports, or if I don't really hate them, then I'm usually pretty disinterested. But this show is about so much more than just football and when it's about football it's still really compelling and dammit I'm hooked.

How great is Saracen? And his grandmother kills me. And I totally agree with you about the Coach's wife, she's awesome. Now I'm just babbling. Anyway, YES--watch this show people.

Anonymous said...

I watche dthe first two episodes and it's a good show but my freinds and I can;t get into it and we were having problems coming up with why..until one friend hit it on the nose. It's a sad show. Despite the highs, there's a thread of heaviness and melancholy that runs through the show that probably turns off viewers.

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

Yes, I can totally see why people would feel that way. Kind of like "My So-Called Life" was almost too real from the female point of view.

I agree with Erik, though. I'm all for a show that can make me laugh and cry -- and maybe even think.

Erik said...

I see the point about the show being sad, too, but maybe I'm just INTO shows that hurt. My So-Called Life is one of my favorite shows ever. But I don't think of either MSCL or FNL as shows that are just down, down, down. There's a lot of oomph there too. Hell, rallying around a football team (even for someone who's not into football) can get pretty exciting.

Anonymous said...

AHH... with such a strong TV season this year (Hereos, Ugly Betty, The Nine), I still find Friday Night Lights (surprisingly) the strongest new show that is heartbreakingly real. Which is probably the exact reason it fails to capture viewers, but I hope people can get over that and realise what they have now (instead of 3 years later like My So Called Life).

I mean, the show has hot guys (and girls), great stories, and is beautifully shot, so what's not to love? WATCH FNL PEOPLE.

Anonymous said...

I too feel it is one of the best shows on TV. The role of the Coach was perfectly cast with Kyle Chandler. The story lines are rich, and bring storylines that go outside the usual. Sad, yes, to some extent, but it just makes those moments of joy more noticable and poignant - the unexpected movement of a hand, the return of a loss grandmother or just watching your daughter's dance perfromance. Maybe the lackluster ratings reflect our addiction to the absurd, the ridiculus and the easy - Wife Swap, 1 versus 100, CSI:(Fill in city) and Deal or No deal. FNL is the real deal. Watch it before good actors in great dramatic parts are a thing of the past.

Anonymous said...

There is no question about it-this is the best show of the three big networks and equally, there is no question that it won't last-always the way-seems the only things that last are the so-called reality shows-that which appeals to the LCD (lowest common denominator)and BTW Connie Britton was also in that sitcom of Michael J. Fox's a few years ago

Anonymous said...

Any TV show which brings any kind of originality, integrity or quality to the main-line tube will not last. It is however to the credit of those networks that once in a while they trot out a brilliant program like FNL to show that they have it in them.