RECAP: Friday Night Lights, Expectations

When I moved into my apartment in August, it took forever and a half to figure out the DirecTV box. I was perfectly content with the basic cable I received in the dorms last year and it was way less confusing to navigate. However, I know get to watch the final season of Friday Night Lights live on DirecTV aaaaaaand with no commercials! Score.

Like with most shows that shuffle cast members in and out for different seasons, I haven’t been digging the new characters that replaced Matt, Lyla, Tyra and Jason. The show has remained strong, don’t get me wrong, but the first three seasons will always be my favorites. I’m so glad that many of them are returning for a few episodes this season. With all of the original high school characters [minus Tim] out of the picture, the new crew is responsible to carry the show during it’s swan song.

On that note, why hasn’t Tim made his exit yet? Taylor Kitsch does absolutely nothing for me. I have never liked his character and his slick locks remind me of Professor Snape. I would be more than happy for him to make long-overdue exit from the show. Tim still has three months left in his prison sentence. As the show’s “bad boy”, the probability of punches being thrown in the slammer is quite high. His prison sentence could easily be extended, his face could get beaten to a pulp…he could even be killed in a fight. Just throwing out ideas here…

The final season opens with the beginning of a new school year. Julie and Landry are off to college, Tami’s now the guidance counselor at East Dillon and Coach Taylor is already hard at work practicing with the Lions. Rebecca is having problems with her dysfunctional family as per usual and she eventually flees to the Riggins household. Jess and Vince are officially a couple. Luke is still the lone good-looking person on the show. And there’s the new guy, Hastings Ruckle, a basketball player recruited to the football team. Let’s all take a moment to laugh at the absurdity of his name…okay. Billy Riggins joins the Lions as and gives them the encouraging words that make up the title of this post, “If you can believe it, your mind can achieve it.”

Watching Landry and Julie prepare for leaving Dillon for college was strangely nostalgic. It’s been two years since I became an official Drake Bulldog and it still seems like yesterday that the football team was carrying all of my crap into my new dorm. Landry wants an epic last night in Dillon, so Julie gets him drunk and leaves him at a strip club. His last words to her? “You stay golden, Julie Taylor.” Hers? “See you at Christmas, keep some money for cab fare.” I am going to miss these two…well maybe Landry not-so-much.

As much as I would love for the show to garner a larger fanbase (because, yes, it’s that good), part of me is happy that Friday Night Lights remains a hidden television gem. When television shows make it big, they change. There’s pressure to please all of the fans in order to keep their status. As a result, storylines are rushed, relationships change every 2.5 seconds and the show loses it’s magic. I’m looking at you, Glee… However, with it being the final season of Friday Night Lights, I am confident that the show will go out with a bang and ultimately be rewarding for its small but loyal fanbase.

REVIEW: Friday Night Lights

When I think of great television three words come to mind: Friday. Night. Lights.

For those of you unfortunate enough to have never experienced this little gem of a television show, I’ll give some background: Friday Night Lights is set in the fictional Texan town of Dillon, a football-loving community where its inhabitants pack the stadium of the Dillon Panthers each and every Friday night. Coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is brought to Dillon to be the new head coach of the Panthers, uprooting his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), and daughter, Julie (Aimee Teegarden). Coach Taylor leads the Panthers to a state championship his first year, then things go downhill from there. Injuries happen on and off the field. Simply put, FNL is not just a “sports show.” Football definitely takes precedent, but it creates lessons to be learned even after the stadium lights dim. FNL is simplistic, gritty and real. A perfect combination.

I can only think of a few reasons why FNL isn’t a television phenomenon like Glee or Gossip Girl. Many television shows claim to mimic lives teenagers lead today and a vast majority of them absolutely do not. The football team at my high school never busted out Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” on the field mid-play. But we did go 13-0 and won state my junior year despite having low pre-season rankings. Stars emerged from that team and went on to become staples in many college teams. FNL gets it right. High school is not glamorous in any way.

Second, the majority of the FNL cast is average looking at best. It’s sad but inevitable that a teenage girl would rather gawk at a Chace Crawford look-a-like than a Zach Gilford any day. But when was the last time Chace pulled off an Emmy-worthy performance like Zach does every episode? I love me some eye-candy, but FNL has a way of keeping me interested without six-packs and floppy hair.

Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton were among this year’s Emmy nominees for Best Performance in a Drama. To say that the nominations are well-deserved and a long-time coming is an understatement. The acting on FNL has always been consistently awesome. FNL has been overlooked for Emmy noms since the show’s inception, which is a shame. The show has handled issues such as abortion / teen pregnancy in such powerful ways that are brilliantly acted and not overly-preachy.

The fifth and final season of FNL is being filmed and will begin airing on DirecTV this fall and on NBC in 2011. ABC Family is also planning to start reruns of FNL from the beginning this fall. Former series regulars Scott Porter, Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki and Zach Gilford are already set to make appearances during FNL’s swan song. If you haven’t experienced the most underrated show currently on air,  I highly recommend joining the team. Documentary-like filming and improvisations of the actors only add to the genuineness of this show. Why does this work, you may ask? I will leave you with the mantra of the Dillon Panthers: clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.

best of 09. part I

So here we are, another year is coming to a close. I have compiled lists of the best in television and film in 2009. And because I enjoyed making the list, I also have the worst films of 2009. Here’s how it goes: yes, my choices are biased, which is pretty easily identifiable. I know what I like, and I like what I know. For criteria it’s pretty basic: actual acting talent, the actors, and originality in storylines.


3. One Tree Hill : Compared to the epicness that was Seasons One-Six, this season of One Tree Hill has been a bit downgrade. No Lucas aka Chad Michael Murray. No Peyton, which at first I thought was a plus, but it seems she brought more to the program than I thought. That pains me to say. Season Seven got to a somewhat rocky start but now that we have been fully introduced to the new characters, its been steadily improving. What the series has always has going for it is spontaneity in storylines. From a psycho nanny on a killing spree to a medic-dog eating Dan Scott’s heart for transplant, One Tree Hill has never let me down in that department. I have always thought the acting level on OTH is great and Sophia Bush has become one of my favorite actresses.

2. So You Think You Can Dance : As a reality program, So You Think You Can Dance obviously has different criteria, but this ranking is honestly because of bias. I’m a dancer, I like watching dance. Season Five (5Alive) which aired during the summer, easily trumped the fall season, Season Six (Season Sick). Season Five had much better choreography, more memorable routines, and in my opinion, a higher caliber of dancers. The best thing about SYTYCD is that at the end of the season, it’s amazing to see how much the final dancers have grown, for a fellow dancer, it’s pretty inspiring. And because I need to reiterate this, in terms of the winners of the two seasons, Jeanine > Russell. Auditions for Season Seven begin in January 2010 and Season Six also goes on tour sometime in 2010.

1. Lost : I think I should get major props here for choosing Lost as my number 1, as it is not my absolute favorite program on television. But taking in account all of the criteria and actual quality of the programs, it really was no contest. Lost owns. I can think of no other series that has me so utterly confused that I need to scour Lostpedia after each episode to make sure I fully understand what was going on, and yet completely enjoy the episode at the same time. Usually large ensemble casts annoy me because I feel like we never get to connect enough with each character, but because of Lost’s clever flashback/flashforward/time continuum episode style, we are constantly being given more information about the characters, plus the acting is superb. Lost begins its sixth and final season on February 2, 2010, and more than anything, I am hoping that it gets the proper send-off the show deserves…and Jack/Kate to be endgame. Thanks.

Runner Up:

  • Friday Night Lights : Seriously one of the most underrated shows ever. Check it out, it’s awesome.

>> part II : films of 2009. coming soon.