Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Is she really going out with him?

Today's column looks at today's "Friday Night Lights" DVD release through the prism of the Tyra/Landry story arc that began late in the season:

A great TV drama, like a great football team, is often defined by its depth. You need stars to succeed, but you also need players further down the roster who can perform when their number gets called.

I wrote reams and reams of praise about the first season of NBC's "Friday Night Lights": how it's the best show on network TV right now, how it's a drama about high school football that's of equal appeal to sports fans and sports haters alike, how it's so obviously great that NBC actually set up a Web site (fnlguarantee.com) offering a full refund to any unlikely soul who buys today's season one DVD release and doesn't like it.

Most of my talk about the cast, though, focused on the fantastic lead performances by Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor and Connie "The Emmys Are Irrelevant" Britton as his wife, Tami. One of the best pleasures of today's "FNL" DVD release is the development of a great top-to-bottom cast. In particular, two actors who began the season chained to the end of the bench -- Adrianne Palicki as outcast sexpot Tyra and Jesse Plemons as outcast motormouth Landry -- were playing like MVPs by the time the finale rolled around, both separately and in a beauty-and-the-geek romantic arc.

To read the full thing (including interview stuff from Palicki, Plemons and Jason Katims), click here.

13 comments:

Abbie said...

I assume that the platonic-peck scene from the last episode will be on the DVDs, because it wasn't part of the actual show that aired. The viewing audience didn't really get any closure on Landry/Tyra.

Yay! The TV-to-DVD release season is here, which just paves the way for the new season of these shows.

Siddhartha said...

This is one of those rare instances where I don't agree with a show hooking two people up. As much as a part of me would love to see Landry and Tyra together (it's probably that same part that craves Big Macs and KFC), it doesn't feel true to the nature of these characters and this show. I just hope the creative team isn't "playing this to the hilt" due to either desperation for survival or interference from Silverman and his crew. Cindy Sanders & Sam Weir made a certain amount of sense since they both came from good, stable (though strict) homes. Girls like Tyra, the way that the writers set her up, with her home life, who not only went out with Riggins but (early 1st ssn ep spoiler) also randomly slept with Smash, may toy with Landry but will revert to guys like Riggins (as they showed before Landry's impassioned speech mentioned in the column). This show is supposed to be a small-town tragedy with sporadic moments of pure joy. These characters (except for Landry, Lila, and Julie who may escape when they get to college) are "doomed" to a life of quiet desperation like Buddy's - the writers shouldn't stray from that for ratings. Hopefully the FNL crew will stay true to its story; otherwise, it would be too much like Achilles making it through all the way to the end of Trojan War or Hester and Dimmesdale getting away at the end.

I'd love to hear anyone's disagreement with me on the above.

Thanks for reading.

Alan Sepinwall said...

No, the kiss isn't on the DVDs, either. I believe that all the deleted scenes on the DVDs are just what was available on NBC.com (it's a real bare-bones collection, designed so they could sell it as cheaply as possible to potential new viewers), and the scene was cut so last-minute that it didn't make it to the web. Plus, as Katims suggested to me, that scene (and another one that got cut that I haven't even seen) will play out in some new way in the fall.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Siddhartha, I see what you're saying, but I trust Katims. If the two of them ever become a couple -- which remains a big "if," I think -- I don't think they'd be treated the same way (by either the writers or the other characters) as, say, Julie and Matt or Smash and Waverly (who won't be coming back, by the way). They're such opposites, from such different circles, and on top of all that, their bond comes from such a tragic place that I don't think we'd ever just see them being schmoopy with each other at the Alamo Freeze or something.

Anonymous said...

I have no problems with the Landry/Tyra romance. As Alan pointed out in his article, the two characters evolved significantly from the beginning of the season to the end of it. Any other show and I would have the same doubts Siddhartha has about their relationship. However, this show has built up so much goodwill with me that I have no doubt the writers will handle this correctly.

Anonymous said...

I have no problems with the Landry/Tyra romance. As Alan pointed out in his article, the two characters evolved significantly from the beginning of the season to the end of it. Any other show and I would have the same doubts Siddhartha has about their relationship. However, this show has built up so much goodwill with me that I have no doubt the writers will handle this correctly.

Beckylooo said...

I'm working on a spec FNL and got my hands on a bunch of scripts. They're incredible, as one would expect but I have to say, I'm nervous about next season. There's a scene in the script for "State" which I assume is what Katims is referencing in your article. I said out loud as I was reading, "Thank god they cut this." FNL is hands down my favorite show on network TV. I have a lot of faith in the writers and even if they zig when I hope for a zag, it's still gonna be better than almost anything else on TV. But I hope they've retooled what I read as it was shocking how unlike the show it felt.

Beckylooo said...

And for the record, Landry is hands down my favorite character on the show. He had me at Crucifictorious. He wanted to name it Stigmatalingus, but he got out-voted.

Anonymous said...

I am reserving judgement on Tyra and Landry. Both actors are terrific, so I think they'll pull it off. I wish I could have as much faith in Katims as you do,though,because I've heard from some fans of his other shows that he doesn't always handle couples as well as they might like. Matt and Julie are my favorite couple on my favorite show....I have my fingers crossed that Katims won't ruin them.

J said...

Alan, did you find out why Waverly isn't returning? She wasn't in the finale whatsoever, which I found really odd since they put so much weight on her earlier on. I suspected it might have been a conflict with the actress since it was such an gaping absence.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Alan, did you find out why Waverly isn't returning?

Katims basically said they want to take Smash back to the cocky, outgoing guy he was earlier in season one -- his big early storyline will be that his success in the championship game has gone to his head -- and that it was hard to do that if he was dealing with this girlfriend with a major mental health issue.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of lower-tier players: I have to say, that at the end of the first season, despite the funny that was Landry and Herc, and the overall awesomeness that is The Taylors, (and the hotness of both Tyra and Lyla) somehow Billy Riggins became my favorite character. Just him standing there in the bleachers in the finale, shoulders hunched, still there for his brother, wanting more for him than he ever had and willing to work for it, is fantastic. Billy Riggins, all the way.
-Lance

Marsha said...

Well, Alan, you got me. Watched the DVDs in four days (maternity leave was made for TV-on-DVD). So now I'm hooked with the rest of you. At least the show gets a lousy time slot this year so I know it won't conflict with anything else I Tivo!