Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" season three, episode eight, coming up just as soon as I peel down to my unadorned id...
NOTE: This and all subsequent "FNL" season three reviews were written after viewing the DirecTV cut, which can be several minutes longer than the NBC version. So both my review and the early comments may refer to scenes that were not shown on NBC.
"New York, New York" represented the best and worst of "Friday Night Lights," in that it was all heart and no brains. It had moments that were very sweet (Coach & Mrs. Coach coming to a meeting of minds, Coach and Saracen playing pitch-and-catch out in the street to audition Matt for wide receiver) or touching (Street reuniting his family while a teary-eyed Riggins watched his bromantic partner from a distance) or just plain funny (pretty much every other scene involving Riggins), and yet looking back on it, most of what happens doesn't make a lick of sense.
How is Riggins again getting away with skipping out on days and days of not only school, but football practice? How can an agent be signing a college football star before the college football season (which runs parallel to the high school season) is over? Has Jason Street never heard of cell phones? How are Street and Riggins getting back and forth between Manhattan and "Penn A&M" (really the campus of Drew University in beautiful Madison, NJ)? How is it possible that Tyra has now come up with a dumber idea than, "Hey, Landry, let's dump this dead guy whom you may have justifiably killed into the river"?
Now, when the episode was good, it was really good. Street reuniting with his family was just as genuinely tear-jerking a send-off as Smash's, and Coach tossing the ol' pigskin to Saracen was one of those pure fun moments the show does so well. And good lord was every word out of Tim Riggins' mouth a comic gem, from him talking up the two-suits-for-$125 deal to him quoting Ben Brantley's "Gypsy" review to him declaring "I'm pregnant" during the role-play in the cab.
But an awful lot of "New York, New York" triggered my BS detector -- or, in the case of the Tyra/Cash subplot, my Bad Story detector.
Still better than virtually everything from season two, but not up to some of this year's stronger outings.
Some briefer thoughts:
* The subject line is a riff on the most famous (and improvised) moment from "Midnight Cowboy," the only X-rated movie ever to win the Best Picture Oscar, because Street and Riggins' travels through the streets of Manhattan very much had the vibe of Joe Buck and Ratso Rizzo. (Other subject lines I contemplated included "Ratso Riggins," "Mid-day Cowboys" and "Everybody's talkin' at me.")
* Even if the rest of the episode had been filled with dead rapists and Christian radio and Swedes, I still would have liked it on some level because they played The Hold Steady's "Stay Positive" during the practice montage near the end. The Hold Steady rule.
* Two lovely little touches in the episode's two best scenes: 1)Coach the old man rubs his arm and needs some aspirin after throwing so hard for so long; 2)Erin's parents' house isn't wheelchair accessible, and so Erin had to hand Noah to his daddy. Sometimes with this show, it's the small touches that make a huge difference.
* Also, I appreciate that, even in the midst of this implausible tale of Street somehow getting his wheel in the door at a sports agency, the writers acknowledge that his salary really wouldn't be enough to support a family on his own in the NY/NJ area.
* It makes sense that QB2 would instantly become the best wide receiver on the Panthers, because if there was a talented receiver on this roster, surely we would have met him over the past three seasons.
* Though I will never complain about watching Coach and Mrs. Coach interact, the real estate story seemed to amount to a whole lotta nothing.
* That story also gave Kyle Chandler the opportunity to do some of his usual silent brilliance, in this case the way his neck tensed up as Tami went on about the house and he realized that, once again, the McCoys were insinuating themselves into his life.
* And annoying as the Tyra subplot is, it did give Connie Britton a lovely subtextual moment where Tami had to let Tyra know that she blew the college interview without ever saying anything remotely like that.
* Speaking of that storyline, with only five episodes left in the season, and with the way Jason Katims insists on starting each new season at the start of a new school year, how are we going to get closure on all of our many graduating seniors? This season will likely end whenever the Panthers season does, so are we going to get much of a sense of how Tyra's going to turn out, whether Saracen or Riggins get scholarships, etc. Or would the fear of losing all of his teen characters in one fell swoop lead Katims to change the structure for a hypothetical fourth season? Spring football, baby! Texas forever!
What did everybody else think?