TV Roundup: Friday Night Lights, #7
It's a daunting task, and one I am still not sure I should have undertaken. But hey, screw the sunk cost fallacy - I'm in! Here's the list thus far:
21. Kids In The Hall
19. How I Met Your Mother
17. The Simpsons
16. The Daily Show
15. Mad Men
14. Arrested Development
12. The Office (UK & US)
9. Six Feet Under
8. The West Wing
Of the fourteen shows listed above, only four of them are still on-air (and one suspects/hopes that The Office (US) is in its last season or so). The next choice is also on air, but about to begin its final season - and it's the last show on this list that still has unaired episodes to show.
The show is Friday Night Lights, and even before its fifth season it's my eighth favorite show of all-time.
|Yes, he's in high school.|
As you may know, the TV series evolved out of the movie, which was based on the book - which was, of course, based on a real high-school football team in rural Texas. And like both of these, the series starts with a horrific, paralyzing injury to the star quarterback, in this case Jason Street (Scott Porter). The way he, his girlfriend Lila Garrity (Minka Kelly), best friend and fullback Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and the community react are at the core of the first season. Equally important is Coach Taylor and his wife Tami (Connie Britton), daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) adjusting to their first year in Dillon, which includes Julie's evolving relationship with new starting quarterback Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford).
There is, of course, much more and many other great characters and moments. But what makes FNL so special is the stunning talent level in every facet -- the writing is incredibly honest, and the actors all make it sound fluid, natural and passionate. The direction and score echo that of the movie, and every episode feels like a story unto itself.
|Cheer up, Matt. PLEASE.|
I want to be coached by Coach Taylor. I do not want to buy a car from Buddy Garrity. I want every relationship to be as fun and functional as that as between Eric and Tami Taylor. I want, so badly, for some of these doomed kids to right the ship and escape what seems to be their fate.
The relationship between Eric and Tami Taylor is astounding; the chemistry Chandler and Britton have with each other is insane, they seem truly like a couple who has been together for 20 years. And while I already credited the entire cast (if anyone has some weak moments, I'll begrudgingly admit it's Lila (Minka Kelly) in the first season), it's worth calling out Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen for creating an indelible, heart-breaking character. Saracen is not the stud athlete he's replacing, and he comes from a broken home (he takes care of his infirm grandmother while his father fights in Iraq, and his mother is nowhere to be found), and he always, always tries to do the right thing. He's not pathetic, he's valiant, and he's truly believable. The way he evolves (especially his relationship with the Taylors) is one of the truly best things I've seen on television, ever.
|Every small town has folks like this, yes?|
But hey, it is television. And damn good television at that.
I also recognize that this final season could be a huge letdown - in truth, the fourth season was my least favorite thus far, though I loved the huge changes and the intelligent way the show dealt with them honestly. But another show with an even higher ranking (spoiler alert!) had a bad final season and I had no issues with that, so FNL gets the benefit of the doubt.
If you haven't taken the time, you owe it to yourself to rent the first season from Netflix or wherever you do such things -- I am proud to have turned a number of friends onto this show, and I'd love to know I helped others discover what is still a horribly under viewed program. Do yourself the favor and jump on in.
It's my seventh favorite show of all-time, after all.