Saturday, November 03, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Lance headstrong

Spoilers for the "Friday Night Lights" episode "Let's Get It On" coming up just as soon as I get in the pool for some upper body exercises...

For the last few weeks, I've tried to hold my tongue (or typing finger, or whatever) with regards to the murder storyline. Kinda hard to do that this week, not just because it was so prominent, but because of how it affected -- or failed to affect -- the other Landry storyline.

Simply put, I have a hard time reconciling the football-playing Landry with the rapist-murdering Landry. The two subplots seemed to be taking place on different shows, or at least with a different central character. Until the final scene at the victory party, nothing that Landry did or said in one storyline in any way influenced or was influenced by what was going on in the other. The guy giving the allegedly stirring halftime speech in the locker room didn’t seem like the same guy being forced to lie to his dad about the murder he committed, just as the guy counseling Tyra to stay calm about the investigation didn’t seem like the same guy mocking Saracen for even thinking about getting back with Julie. They look like the same guy, but they exist on two different planes of reality, only occasionally touching one another.

Beyond that, I’m having a hard time buying into any part of the Landry, football hero story, even if it gave Kyle Chandler repeated opportunities to say “Lance” with as much contempt as he could muster. The Landry of season one had nothing but contempt for the football team, barely tolerating its existence only because of his buddy Matt. Maybe I go with him trying out as a misguided attempt to impress Tyra and/or his dad, but we needed more set-up than we got by having the season begin with pre-season practice already underway. And even if I accept Landry’s willingness to go out for the team, it becomes harder and harder to accept that a defending state champion Texas football factory like Dillon would have room for an inexperienced outcast like Landry to make the varsity as a junior, then that he might be able to catch Coach’s eye with a single play in the middle of an intentionally goofy scrimmage, and then that he would have been indulged by the real players during his halftime speech. (Which, by the way, was pretty cliché-filled and not that inspiring.) Yes, some guys griped when he opened his mouth and Coach forced everybody to listen, but Landry’s a tackling dummy at worst, QB-1’s manservant at best, in this hierarchy. I appreciate that he didn’t turn into Jeremy Shockey once he finally got onto the field, that his two big moments in the game were a hustle play and then being the victim of a pass interference penalty, but there were way too many plausibility problems up to that point.

The thing is, I think the football story could have worked if so much of Landry’s time as a character wasn’t being taken up with this silly, overwrought murder plot. Take all the script pages spent on the cover-up and reassign them to Landry’s motivations for going out for the team, the other player’s reactions to him, Saracen’s reaction to having his unpopular sidekick cross into his football world, etc., and this could have been a great storyline. The writers wouldn’t have even needed to tweak Landry’s speech to Tyra from episode two about being a man all that much; done properly, and played with the conviction and power that Jesse Plemons and Adrianne Palicki are bringing to a subplot that doesn’t deserve it, I think everyone absolutely would have bought Tyra falling for Landry the football player just as easily as her doing it with Landry the avenging angel.

And yet the non-Landry portions of the episode were terrific. The show seems to finally be finding its season two footing, but there’s this millstone of a storyline that keeps tripping it up.

Start with Saracen finally growing a pair and telling off anyone and everyone within earshot. Last week’s episode too quickly glossed over the resentment that the Dillon players would no doubt feel about Coach having abandoned them and then returned only after MacGregor was allowed to make a mess of things. Somebody needed to make their displeasure known to Eric, and Saracen -- who matured in so many ways last season and yet was still the stammering pushover at the start of this one -- was just the guy to do it. I hope that one outburst isn’t the end of any post-TMU discomfort between Eric and the team, though I have a feeling it is. I also liked the complete awkwardness of him asking Tami for advice on how to deal with her daughter, and Tami rightly pointing this out to him. In an episode in which Connie Britton had a lot of funny moments – including pretty much every second of the storyline with Eric trying to get lucky and Tami seeing through his every move -- her attempt to get the hell out of the Alamo Freeze before that boy could say another word may have been my favorite.

The Mexico trip came to an interesting end. That Street wasn’t going to have the surgery seemed a given, but the final scene in the bar where Lyla was affectionate with Street, then Riggins, in full view of each guy -- and with neither of them seeming that troubled by it -- demonstrated a moral and sexual complexity that I didn’t think the show would be willing to approach. I actually thought, for the 5 seconds before Lyla had a retreat-to-Jesus moment, that a threesome was in the offing, and I wonder where all this is going once they get north of the border next week.

What did everybody else think?

51 comments:

Alap said...

holy shit a threesome.

Scott Tobias said...

I've already written about it at length, but I thought this episode was wall-to-wall brilliant, easily the best of the season to date. I've been less resistant than you to the Tyra/Landry thing, and here I thought it paid off to heartbreaking effect, from the scene where Landry lies to his father to the big break-up, where Tyra was forced to be cruel to Landry in order to protect him. (It was, to use a cheesy metaphor, her emotional tire iron.) And while Landry's on-field heroics do stretch credulity, I'm inclined to give them a pass simply for making his scene with Tyra that much more bittersweet.

And can you say enough about Coach and Mrs. Coach? I'm embarrassed to admit how much those scenes rang true, especially with our first baby on the way in a few months. Nice to have him home, anyway. To my mind, it feels like the show is finally starting to hit its stride.

Anonymous said...

Ellen:

While I totally agree that the Landry dichotomy's a problem -- and I've hated the let's-hide-the-body thing from Minute 1, it might help if we stopped calling it a murder, since I don't think it really qualifies as more than some degree of manslaughter (which makes their refusal to go to the police in the first place all the more frustrating).

On the other hand, we ARE in Texas.

In any case, there were great moments in the episode, but like the others this season, it felt almost as if different storylines were assigned to different writers (of perhaps different abilities) and then stitched together...

BigTed said...

I agree with everything you said about "The Landry Show"... and would add that Tyra cruelly breaking up with him as a way of protecting him, though she secretly didn't want to, was a total soap-opera move. (Although Adrianne Palicki just keeps getting better.) I wonder if they put Landry on the team because they decided that every plot on the show has to revolve around football in some way, and they couldn't do a murder story with a guy who's just the quarterback's funny sidekick. (Which actually might have been more interesting.)

As for Lyla, Street and Riggins turning into a modern-day version of "Jules and Jim," I kind of liked it. I think they timed her religious conversion so that we don't have to worry about sex coming into the picture at this point. (And if she was being literal about the boys visiting whorehouses when they were in Mexico, she probably wouldn't want to go there anyway.)

Coach and Mrs. Coach were fantastic, as always. And it was nice not to see much of either Julie or the baby, both of whom have turned into annoyances who simply get in the way of the other characters having any fun.

Alan Sepinwall said...

A couple of additional points I neglected to make in the rush to post before I went to bed:

-Scott Porter has always done his homework when it comes to depicting the physical realities of Street's condition, but I thought he was especially good during the swimming scene, where you could see what an athlete Street is to be able to swim that strongly without the use of his legs or hands.

-It occurs to me that the "Jules et Jim" (or, if you prefer, "Y Tu Mama Tambien") scene at the end of the Mexico story probably won't get followed up for a while, if ever, since we spent so much time last week establishing Santiago the ex-delinquent as Lyla's new love interest.

-The scene in Eric's office where Mac tried to talk about his own sex life while Eric looked on in horror was priceless.

-Speaking of Mac, at some point they need at least a throwaway line to deal with the fact that he's now been passed over for the head coaching job three times, twice by Eric.

-Lord, I would've loved to see the described scene of Grandma Saracen giving the birds and the bees lecture, but not if it would've meant us missing out on Grandma's funky victory dance when the game got tied.

-One more great facial expression in an episode full of them for Kyle Chandler: his amused, relived, "How the hell did we just win that game?" face.

WhoJackman said...

Cheers Alan for your great reviews. I am an Aussie who just purchased the FNL season 1 dvd set and fell deeply in love with the show and its characters. I guess I'll be waiting a year until I can see season 2 episodes but I appreciate greatly what you say about each episode so far. I will not remark at length about an episode I have yet to see but I share many of your concerns about the direction the series in progressing in, with the use of cliches.

What I would like to see:
* I actually would like to see Julie and Tim together, I would be in the smallest minority possible but can you imagine the snark?
* Contradictory I know - Matt and Julie, once he's made her suffer a hell of a lot more
* More Matt
* Less Lyla
* More Coach and Mrs Coach
* Emmy noms, Golden Globe noms, etc
* Give Adrianna something to do when she isn't a walking cliche. She's killing it (literally and figuratively) with the cliches, imagine what she can do with a storyline "outside the box"

Cheers

Carmichael Harold said...

Alan,

I generally cringe at every scene dealing with the Landry/Tyra revenge/defense killing, but I'm not sure I agree with you that the football stuff is unconnected to it.

I think Landry knew (well before Tyra told him) that he wouldn't be with Tyra where it not for the violent melodrama, and the football was his way of trying to make himself genuinely worthy in her eyes.

His speech, though awfully trite (and a little too close to Lost's tagline of "live together, die alone") worked for me because I see Landry as feeling scared and isolated and in desperate need of some companionship to help him deal with the killing. I thought this made the break-up itself much worse than the words Tyra used to express it.

By the way, I kind of loved (maybe because I missed the obviousness)the parallel, which Saracen pointed out, of Coach's treatment of Dillon and Julie's treatment of Matt.

Also, and I apologize if this has been said before, but am I the only one who thinks Jesse Plemons (in expression and mannerism) is a dead ringer for a less attractive Matt Damon?

Anonymous said...

On the other hand, we ARE in Texas.

What's that supposed to mean?

From Texas law:

Sec. 9.32. DEADLY FORCE IN DEFENSE OF PERSON. (a) A person is justified in using deadly force against another:
(1) if he would be justified in using force against the other under Section 9.31;
(2) if a reasonable person in the actor's situation would not have retreated; and
(3) when and to the degree he reasonably believes the deadly force is immediately necessary:
(A) to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force; or
(B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.
(b) The requirement imposed by Subsection (a)(2) does not apply to an actor who uses force against a person who is at the time of the use of force committing an offense of unlawful entry in the habitation of the actor.

Bobman said...

His speech, though awfully trite (and a little too close to Lost's tagline of "live together, die alone") worked for me because I see Landry as feeling scared and isolated and in desperate need of some companionship to help him deal with the killing. I thought this made the break-up itself much worse than the words Tyra used to express it.

Interesting point, but I still think the thing reeked of unrealism - this is still high school we're talking about, and I know Landry (Lance, ha!) is supposed to be a nerdy and more mature guy, but is he really going to stand up in a group of people, where he know he already is an outcast, and say something like that? Doubtful.

I'd also like to point out that there were some major similarities between that speech and the speech in "Any Given Sunday", again echoing the "live together, die alone" thought.

Bill said...

I’m having a hard time buying into any part of the Landry, football hero story

Honestly, it reads like Landry fan fiction.

KevinR said...

Is this the grounds you'd use to defend Landry?

(B) to prevent the other's imminent commission of aggravated kidnapping, murder, sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault, robbery, or aggravated robbery.

I think "imminent" would be a problem, since the guy was walking away. (and could be demonstrated by the wounds being to the back of the head)

If it's
(A) to protect himself against the other's use or attempted use of unlawful deadly force;

Well, maybe. I'd have to see what the precedent is on "protect himself against..". There's little imminence involved, so it'd seem to be a bit of a stretch.

I mean, really, he'd probably get a lot of consideration for the victim's record, history of threats and whatnot, and Landry's squeaky-clean history. Just sayin'.

NOW, about the speech -- as a total nerd, I'd have to say it'd take lots of guts to speak up in the locker room. So that's a good dramatic moment, but it's exceptionally hard to get that across.

Anonymous said...

As much as I like Landry, I have to agree with the previous poster who said this episode totally read like Landry fan fiction. I miss Landry of S1 who scoffed at the team. Now he is making trite speeches (although I do like his live together, die alone speech better than the Matthew Fox/Jack version on Lost).

I love the actor who plays Landry's dad, and loved his speech to Tyra.

I loved when Matt grew a pair and told Julie to find someone else to take to the concert. I just can't stand her and am glad they aren't getting back together right away.

I really, really loved Street's jump into the water scene, and how he saved himself. Moved me to tears... maybe because of the great music, but also I felt it was a very powerfully filmed and acted scene.

Still a fine show, but nowhere near the magic of the first season.

Anonymous said...

We're getting there. And Alan, I'm glad you realized I was right about the football plot being a doable way to do this whole storyline without the murder.

I'm glad the show's finally getting its momentum back. I'm glad Julie is getting hers for the bitch she's been all season. And I for one would much rather see Lyla have an open relationship with both Street and Riggins than the kindly ex-con.

Kristin said...

I loved it. Every single minute of it. I can believe that Matt convinced Landry to try out for the team over the summer. They're best friends. Landry had lots of reasons to try out. And sometimes those geeky, smart types like to prove that they can also be manly and athletic. I love that they have a smart kid like Landry being a jock, too.

I'm over arguing about the dead guy. Some will always hate it; others (like me) will have no problems with it.

My favorite part was Coach's constant confusion with Landry's name. He seemed convinced it was "Lance." And I laughed every time.

Oh, and the post-baby sex stuff. So true, so true. Mrs. Coach played it perfectly.

Anyone else happy to see Matt break the 'date' with Julie? I loved how he confronted her on her dishonesty. She treated him badly, and he deserves better. I'd love to see her mope around for a long time and go on a bunch of horrid dates with other high school idiots so that she realizes what a dummy she was. Don't make it easy for her to come back to you, Matt!

Tim said...

Coach calling Landry "Lance", although funny, was the most unrealistic thing that's happened all season. No one in Texas with an ounce of Football history knowledge would forget the name of someone named Landry.

Alex R said...

I actually clapped when Matt broke the date w/ Julie. I was uncomfortable earlier in the episode when he accepted the date.

But his reaction to Julie can be directly tied to the scene where he stood up to Coach Taylor at the dinner. I thimk when he got so incensed with Taylor trying to suddenly "solve the Saracen/Smash fight, I think Matt at that moment had an epiphany that he had a problem alltogether with the Taylor family (for now) and correctly recognized that he needed to first stand up to Eric and then to Julie.

And great performance over by Zack Gilford as saracen in all those scenes. Emmy nod.

As for your gripes seemingly about everything related to "Friday Night Lights" and particularly the murder/body dump storyline, ALAN - GET OVER IT.

Seriously.

I love your columns but I am thoroughly enjoying FNL season 2 (unlike the abomination that is S2 of "Heroes") despite the occassional hiccups. Serious, does this Blog simply exist to nitpick your favorite shows to death or what? My wife and I count to seconds every week to each new FNL episode and your complaining each week baffles me.

Alan Sepinwall said...

ALEX - THANK YOU FOR DISCOVERING THE CAPS LOCK KEY.

Seriously.

I think I need to write a macro to plug into the comments of each of these FNL posts, because every week it seems someone declares that they don't want to hear my opinion unless it's in lockstep with their own positive reaction.

The only opinion I can express here is my own, not what I think the readers want to see -- especially since reaction to the Landry storyline, as evidenced in these comments and every other post I've done this season, is divided between those who hate it and those who don't mind it.

If your enjoyment of the show is somehow damaged because I'm not as over the moon with it as you are, then you could always skip over these "FNL" reviews and only read the posts on the shows where you agree with me.

But personally, a world where everyone agrees with me would be an awfully boring one. Some of my favorite reviews are ones where I vehemently disagreed with the reviewer, because they forced me to focus my own opinion so I could mount a forceful rebuttal (even if it was only in my head). Simply telling people who disagree with you to stop disagreeing with you leads nowhere except to our current political process.

Tom G, ballssticksstuff.com said...

I agree with you Alan, it's almost as if there are two different Landrys/Lances. I think, maybe, possibly, I could learn to barely tolerate the murder/manslaughter storyline, but to have them act completely independent of each other is ludicrous. If Landry is so broken up about what he did, how is he wisecracking on Saracen in the cafeteria?

Coach and Mrs. Coach were great, yet again. I loved Eric's expression at the end of the game as well, good stuff.

Simon Crowe said...

The best episode of the season to date. OK, Landry's speech was a little trite but I'd argue his actions on the field were much more plausible than the fact that the Panthers (supposedly a championship caliber team) win an incredibly high number of games on the last play.

Yes, Landry did scorn the team....but any able bodied male student in that town who wasn't on the team would be on the outside looking in, right? The unspoken pressure to join must have been enormous, and we see now his father is clearly invested in his being on the squad.

Alex R said...

Alan,

I am not asking you to agree with me - geez! I am trying to wrap my head around why you keep savagely ripping a show that is clearly one of the most thoroughly entertaining and well written on Television, week after week?

Let me reiterate - I love your column and I read it regularly so your defensiveness over your FNL criticisms surprises me.

It just seems like you are complaining about everything. Sure, the Landry storylines may not be perfect but the performances by Adrianne Palicki and Jessie Plemmons is so off the charts good and heart wrenching, I guess I don't want to complain about this show.

Plus, you barely gave the same attention to how off the charts fantastic Zack Gilford's performance was in his 2 major scenes where he stands up to a different Taylor - first he stands up to Eric Taylor, and then causes me to break out into spontaneous clapping by standing up to annoying Julie Taylor.

For the record, I think your criticisms of "Heroes" are dead on, though I think you are still too harsh on "The Office".

BigTed said...

Alan, it always amuses me when commenters on other sites reply to a nuanced but at least partially negative review of something with, "Stop hating, you hater! I hate you!" Or, my favorite, "If you dislike this show so much, stop watching it!" Apparently some people can't enjoy their favorite shows unless everyone else also loves them unconditionally. (Of course, if the only people who were allowed to watch a show were those who thought it was perfect, even the best ones would be canceled for lack of viewership.)

In reality, it's the highest-quality works of art, TV shows included, that people tend to argue over most vociferously. When a show is dull and ordinary, on the other hand, while I may sometimes watch it out of screen-induced inertia, I have no desire to say anything about it one way or the other. And if I were a producer of "Friday Night Lights" -- which seems to be surviving based on a viewership that's very loyal (and affluent) but not that large -- I'd be a lot more worried if people stopped talking about it altogether than if they seemed to be having a vigorous discussion about what's working well and what isn't.

Alex R said...

I am so pleased I could "amuse" you bigted. Please. Do you even read my comments?

I tried my damndest to have a discussion but if it makes people like you feel better to dismiss my criticism of Alan's comments (which were also supplemented with explanation on my part and also mentioning how much I thoroughly enjoy his columns daily), than fine.

I think that's a very simple way to respond to an honest and thoughtful criticism.

BigTed said...

Alex, I wasn't referring to your comment. (Which is why I specifically said "commenters on other sites.") I was responding to what Alan said.

lindap said...

Long time lurker, first time poster. I just wanted to give a nod to the actor who is playing Landry's father. Not a fan of the storyline, but am blown away by the portrayal of this fathers love for his son. The shot of him in the stands cheering as Landry left the field was gorgeous. These actors have me invested in spite of myself...

Chris Littmann said...

Let me just say that after a crummy night, this really lifted my spirits. I really enjoyed this. And it looks like next week, we're going to get into the "suppressing evidence" storyline I'd speculated about with my family.

Oh how I do love some FNL.

mj said...

thank you, lindap, for reminding us to revisit that gorgeous shot of Landry's dad (and his mother) in the stands as Landry walks off the field. Just that shot alone was reward enough for putting up with the implausibility that Landry would even be a part of the team. I agree with Alan that the Landry storylines are mostly orthogonal but I do also think (and it could be a stretch) that Landry would never have made the speech that he did had he not been influenced psychologically by the other things going on his life. The motivation for the speech could well have been achieved in other ways but the point is there does seem to be more overlap in the Landry storylines than meets the eye. Of course, the storylines came to an obvious crossover point during Landry's walk through the euphoric bar after being dumped by Tyra. And would we ever have had the pleasure of watching the stunningly nuanced performance by the actor playing Landry's dad without those orthogonal storylines? I watched the episode again this morning and was floored by how watchable it was second time through. Assistant Coach Mac's "tulips" line in the context of the conversation he was having with Coach T was just beautiful. Riggins' declaration of love for his buddy, his sheepish request of Lyla for cash to do the booze cruise, his "contemplation" for how to get Jason off the beach into the truck, and his seamless flipping between using "Garrity" or "Lyla" to refer to Lyla depending on the depth of the point he was making was just pure FNL gold. Watchable over and over again. AlexR - I agree with you that our host Alan is nitpicky about issues in Season 2 but better that he write about the show than not at all. And as you also point out, he really does have insight about the show. I have reached the point of realizing that Alan's devotion to writing about the show and his sheer ability to identify moments of gold (e.g., Coach T's facial expression after the game and his look of horror during Assistant Coach Mac's advice, Grandma's funky victory dance in the stands, etc) far outweigh, any negativity in his reviews. Clear eyes, full hearts... (did this episode contain the first mention this season?)

pamelajaye said...

Totally off topic - you don't follow Brothers & Sisters do you? I'm backing up season 2 from the DVR as I type, and I just love it (as I do Grey's and Did Ally Mcbeal, and Scrubs sort of, too)

And, as you might have mentioned, medical insanities aside, Grey's is recovering. Derek is insane but Mer realizes her issues haven't been solved as is trying anf the new R2's are actually spending some tome being doctors! Dr Hahn is great, and Izzie did a wonderful job with bird watcher guy last week, proving that getting involved with your patients is *not* a detriment to saving them.

Some things are still extremely stupid, but Lexie could slightly make up for the loss of Ellis. I loved the dead cat story. It was obviouslt an attempt to relate and comfort - and Alex, being straight and honest with (a woman)? Wow.

I tried to be vague as is this isn't a Grey's thread.

Anonymous said...

Is Landry's dad going to pursue the rapist's killing wherever it leads or be satisfied with breaking the kids up?

Anonymous said...

Also, and I apologize if this has been said before, but am I the only one who thinks Jesse Plemons (in expression and mannerism) is a dead ringer for a less attractive Matt Damon?

Nope, you're not alone in that at all. In fact, Jesse Plemons (Landry) played a younger version of Matt Damon's character in the movie All the Pretty Horses. "Less attractive", though? LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Murder plot = annoying but I'm dealing with it.

There are enough good things to keep me pretty happy.

1) Coach trying to seduce Mrs. Coach: I love these people. After watching Tell Me You Love Me it is so refreshing to watch Coach and Mrs. Coach.

2) Tim, Street and Lyla: While they mostly annoyed me season 1, they were cool and interesting people here. I also thought the last scene was so very Y Tu Mama Tambien that I almost had to assume the threesome happened after Lyla prayed. Wow. Hotness.

TuckPendleton said...

WhoJackman --

You can watch the current season 2 shows on the internet, at NBC.com.

TuckPendleton said...

As much as I have been defending the writers' rights to attempt the Tyra/"Lance" rape storyline, I have to say I felt the Landry football hero story -- and the speech, especially -- did not play well at all, and actually had me groaning out loud. To me, this has always been the weakest aspect in the (relative) believability of the show -- clearly small, undersized Hollywood actors (Street and Riggins notwithstanding) looking like actual HS football players. I hope they get Landry off the team stat -- maybe he does it as a way to get back at his dad -- or at least relegate him to a scrub role/foil for Saracen when the defense is on the field.

Otherwise, so much goodness...esp. the Mr. and Mrs. Coach stuff. The sex talk with Mac. The burger stand talk with Saracen and Mrs. C.

Alan Sepinwall said...

To me, this has always been the weakest aspect in the (relative) believability of the show -- clearly small, undersized Hollywood actors (Street and Riggins notwithstanding) looking like actual HS football players.

What's funny is that I believe Jesse Plemons is one of the few actors in the cast with actual high school football experience. Next to someone built like Taylor Kitsch, he doesn't look it, but he joked in some interviews that he didn't want to use a stunt double for the game action because he was looking forward to showing his co-stars how a real football player moves.

Alan Sepinwall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Please, can people stop lobbing the "nitpick" complaint? This is a blog with commentary. Alan and everyone else are free to voice their opinions, whether criticism or praise. The idea is an open, lively discussion. None of us would be here if nobody probed deeper than "I liked this episode."

I loved how devastated Julie was when her passive-aggressive behavior finally didn't work on Matt. She definitely made her own bed, but I still felt badly for her having to lie in it.

Forgetting, for a moment, my overall problems with the manslaughter plotline, they still needed a scene where Tyra witnessed Landry idolizing his dad, so she'd feel compelled to stage the breakup. Otherwise, why not just tell Landry what his dad had said? What teen girl isn't willing to defy her boyfriend's father's wishes, even in a situation like this?

Kristin said...

I think we are just tired of the same nitpick - 'the murder plot sucks'. I can deal with nitpicks, just not the same one week after week after week.

The plot is not going to change...so what does Alan like/dislike about this particular episode beyond that? Was there anything that was good to him with Landry at all?

That's what the argument really is about here...

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think we are just tired of the same nitpick - 'the murder plot sucks'. I can deal with nitpicks, just not the same one week after week after week.

The definition of "nitpick" that I've always been familiar with is "to be excessively concerned with or critical of inconsequential details." A major story arc in which a character kills someone and covers it up is not an inconsequential detail. If I spent every review devoting the first three paragraphs to Adrianne Palicki's haircut or the new Panthers uniforms, then you could say I was nitpicking. Here, I'm complaining about an ongoing, significant part of the series.

so what does Alan like/dislike about this particular episode beyond that?

Did you just stop reading the post after the Landry section? I wrote about all the other parts of the episode -- not at the length I devoted to the Landry storyline (which was inarguably the episode's main topic, and the first time I've given it such significant billing in a review in several weeks), but I talked about virtually everything else, and was positive about most of it.

Anonymous said...

Well, I'd argue that Alan and others here have done a nice job of plunging into how & why the manslaughter plotline has hurt each episode, specific to the individual episodes' goings-on (and they've done so without overly focusing on that plotline at the expense of the show's virtues). But I'll grant you that I fall more on the "manslaughter plot sucks" end of the spectrum, so perhaps to those who don't mind it, the specific criticisms blur into one general complaint.

Anonymous said...

Yes, that is it, anonymous. No matter which angle it comes from, it all sounds like a broken record.

Alan, I was not saying you didn't comment on the rest of the episode, but the murder plot hatred comes up every single time and dominates the discussion:

" I've tried to hold my tongue (or typing finger, or whatever) with regards to the murder storyline."

"I'd like to think that they've also wrapped up the dead rapist storyline, but I don't think that's what's happening. "

"I'm only going to say a few things about Tyra/Landry/corpse: 1)I still believe that all the stuff with Landry and his dad, and Tyra and Landry's dad (a lovely scene) could have been accomplished without the death, and nothing's happened yet to change my mind"

And this is just the last three commentaries. The point is, we know you don't like it. And every time I read about it on the commentary, I feel like you are beating a dead horse. It ain't gonna go away.

Anonymous said...

anonymous wrote: "The point is, we know you don't like it. And every time I read about it on the commentary, I feel like you are beating a dead horse. It ain't gonna go away."

kristin wrote: "The plot is not going to change...so what does Alan like/dislike about this particular episode beyond that? Was there anything that was good to him with Landry at all?"

Here's the problem: Alan isn't a messageboard poster who gives his opinions with the absolutely absurd idea that the showrunner of his favorite show in the world is going to read what he has to say and make changes based on his opinions. He isn't one of those Lost-phanatics who think that Nikki and Paolo were killed because "lostluver3456" wrote "Nikki and Paolo SUCK" the first time they appeared on screen. He's sharing an opinion, a critical reaction, to each episode as it comes out.

kristin and anonymous, your sentences only make sense if you go with the idea that since there's nothing Alan can do to change the Killer Landry plot, he should stop complaining. Alan's going with the idea that since the Killer Landry plot continues to annoy him each and every episode, it's a part of his reaction to each and every episode. And it's not like the Killer Landry and Football Landry plots are minor parts of this season thus far. They're pretty major. If Alan were to suddenly get a warm, fuzzy feeling toward the Killer Landry and Football Landry plots, you'd probably want him to discuss that new-found warm fuzzy feeling, so you may want to put up with any increased or variable agitation he's feeling.

Oh and alex r, I at least admire that you admit your hypocracy. When Alan rails against "Heroes," you agree with him, so it doesn't bother you.

For the love of Pete, Alan wrote about how much he loved "FNL" every single week last season, rarely finding anything to criticize at all...

Rant over.

-A. Nony Mouse.

EssPee said...

Maybe the murder/hide-the-body plot isn't going away -- and that's exactly the point. Alan doesn't like it -- I don't, either, for what it's worth -- and it's perfectly fair game for critical analysis.

Personally, the whole murder plot reeks of bad, contrived storytelling, where the writers (or producers or suits or showrunners, whoever) wrench individuals out of character in order to set up some "larger" plot or storyline. In this case, as Katims himself said, the notion was specifically to get Landry and Tyra together. I think viewers (and critics, of course) are perfectly justified if they resent the way a series as good and organic as FNL has been jerked around like this.

All that said, there's still a lot of good in this season -- any scene with Eric and Tami, for instance, and just about anywhere Matt Saracen exhibits a shred of self-worth and personal growth. I didn't even mind the way the road-trip-to-Mexico storyline ended up, although I had a fair bit of trepidation as it got off the ground. Still, it's very hard to reconcile last season's unflinching honesty with where this season and its happied-up opening sequence seems to be headed. I'm still watching because at some level the show is still true to itself, but how long that will last is definitely open to question at this point.

Anonymous said...

Regarding the Anon's "broken record/beating a dead horse" comments (and for everyone who agrees with them):

Please keep in mind that for those of us who are troubled by the manslaughter plot and how it plays out, those of you who don't mind it sound like exactly the same broken record or someone beating a dead horse by insisting we "get over it" and "stop nitpicking."

Again, I'd argue that specifically, within each individual episode, we find it problematic in different ways. If we stopped addressing it at all, it would still be the elephant in the room. And we feel it does sometimes taint other, tangentially related aspects of the show.

mj said...

Yes, indeed, anonymous, the irony is that commentators like me who post persistent complaints about Alan's persistent complaints with the murder/manslaughter storyline are compounding the dead horse beating! (Or compounding the picking of the "nit"?). I have actually turned a full circle and love the fact that Alan and many of the commentators here still have problems with the murder storyline. At the very least if the debate/discussion/rants are able to draw in some new viewers to see what the fuss is about, all the better. I contend they'll see tv quality far superior to anyone else currently on network tv, in spite of the murder storyline. During Friday's episode, I was just so swamped by the overwhelming subtleties (upon which this show, I think, has garnered its reputation for excellence) that the murder subplot and associated complaints are now just an efficient way of attracting some attention for the show.

Anonymous said...

I am going to have to quit reading your blogs on FNL.

I love the show but after reading your CSI-like examination of every plot point it makes me sad I like the show.

you are shredding this series to pieces for no reason.

TuckPendleton said...

To everyone who posts as Anonymous:

Please make up some handle, if you can't be bothered to register for Blogger. It's too hard to tell people apart, and I'm sure I'm not the only one who ignores all the Anonymous posts because of it.

Zed said...

Late to the party by reason of TiVo...

I have to say for me the Landry Football arc feels the least problematic of all the missteps so far this benighted season, although to be fair they do owe us some exposition they havent given.

In short terms-- Landry's a sophomore, right? Making the flip from overly dead serious, egghead jesus-metal-rock dedicated outsider to oh-hell-give-it-a-shot insider rookie player over the change from freshman to sophomore is one I find comPLETEley believable, even notwithstanding the Pressures of Texas.

In my experience, that is *precisely* what high school kids are like. Sophomore year is a chance to start over a second time, from all the frustrating missteps you might have made coming out of middle school and walking into high school for the first time. Since nobody takes sophomores seriously anyway, why not? Lots of kids take advantage of this freedom, not the list of which because so many boys hit their growth spurt over that first summer, and come back as sophomores looking and feeling as nearly completely different people.

And after all he *has* just spent a complete year experiencing the fallout and watching effect on his best friend of going from similar outsider (redshirt freshman nobody) to QB1 in the blink of a freak accident.

Landry has always been all about intellectual honesty, at least in his variously deluded ways lol. The idea that theres as much merit in joining up and pulling *with* something as bitching from the outside is one I can completely see Landry embracing. He is a brilliant, brilliant kid, clearly the smartest on the show and not just from all his damn tutoring sessions they keep beating us over hte head over.. Talk about a dead horse.

Two last gold moments: the look on Landrys face as the team exits the locker room cheering (holy sh*t, it worked?!).. and previous to that, the blink shot of Landry hopping up and down the sidelines in full on Geek fashion before he goes in, trying to rile the bench up into cheering. I had to reverse the TiVo three times to catch that that was really him.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Saracen and Landry are both juniors, while Smash (and, presumably, Riggins) are seniors. It came up in a conversation between Smash and Matt a few episodes ago where Smash argued that he deserved to be showcased because it was his senior year, and next year it would be Saracen's turn.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or weren't Riggins and Street seniors last year? I'm not sure it was ever actually said in an episode, but it was pretty heavily implied with all the college talk and best friend stuff involving Riggins/Street. And what about Tyra? I'm guessing now that she was a junior last year too? Even though we had extensive talks about her "college future" with Ms. Coach? I love the show, and it doesn't really bother me, but am I crazy or does everyone else get the feeling that they decided "ah, the hell with it, we'll just pretend that Riggins and Tyra were juniors last year and we don't have to worry about Street and Lyla b/c Street is crippled and Lyla has found jesus"

Zed said...

Ah shoot.

Well the point still stands (mostly): high school kids really are at their core all about reinvention, esp. emotional reinvention.. so I still have to call the Landry Football Myth as "Plausible".

Mo Ryan said...

Wait, so nobody had the reaction my husband did when Street crawled up on the beach -- "Hey, wonder if that's the Lost island!"

Threesome together, die alone.

I thought all the Landry football stuff was way overblown -- the cheering of "Landry, Landry," etc. Then Dave said, "you realize that this is the guy equivalent of that romantic chick-flick moment?"

alright, fine. I just found the locker room speech... Lost-y.

Then again, as everyone pointed out, the Coach-Tami stuff and the Julie-Matt stuff was great, as was any scene with Glenn Morshower as Lance's dad.

OK, here's a show: Glenn Morshower as the father of two sons who always get into wacky hijinx - the sons played by Jesse Plemons and Matt Damon.

They really all could be related.

Anyhoo, whatever implausibilities might have lingered in the air (and I find Alan's weekly critiques interesting, even when I don't 100 percent agree, so keep em coming), that scene where Landry walks through the party, having just had his heart shredded by Tyra. Dang. Ouch. You could feel his pain emanating off the screen.

Also, this is so minor (even nitpicky), but Jesse Plemons is not a small guy. He's far from the stick-figure spindly nerd type, imho. And he's not tiny -- he's pretty tall. I find just about everything about Friday's football game implausible, but his size is not one of my nitpicks. Sure, he's no super-giant jock slab o beef, but on screen, he looks very far from the 98 pound weakling.

jeanne said...

I thought Lyla and Street were seniors last year and Lyla graduated but Street dropped out? I thought Riggins was also a senior last year. I guess they keep these things vague so they can keep the characters on the show longer, but they haven't shown Lyla at school this season as far as I remember. What about Tyra? Is she a senior this year?