Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Night Lights, "Underdogs": Clock management

Spoilers for the penultimate episode of "Friday Night Lights" season three coming up just as soon as I find a way to tie every paragraph in this review to Applebee's...

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.

"You be proud of yourselves. Because gentlemen, you are champions." -Coach
And the chills are back, boys and girls.

"Underdogs" is, like, much of season three, a fairly straight rehash of material from season one -- in this case, the bulk of "State." Among the elements they share:

* On the eve of the state championship against an obviously superior team, Coach finds his relationship with his QB One strained due to a controversial decision made by Coach.

* Tyra and Landry take a memorable road trip together to the big game.

* The Panthers fall deep into a hole in the first half as the QB-Coach tensions get worse, then after a speech at halftime, the anonymous Panther defenders improbably shut down the opposing offense and Matt Saracen leads the team to an equally improbable comeback.

But this is a sadder spin on the same material. Coach is at odds with JD McCoy here, not Saracen, and he and JD remain at odds when the game's over. The Panthers somehow blow out South Texas for most of the second half, but they leave too much time on the clock in the end, allowing South Texas to go down the field and kick the game-winning field goal.

And in many ways, I prefer "Underdogs" to "State." I complained at the time of the season one finale that the game was too storybook even by the show's standards, that Eric didn't really do anything at halftime to inspire the troops into suddenly turning into the '85 Bears, and that the come-from-behind win went against the series' vision that you can have all the talent and drive and effort in the world and still come up short. Here, there was a plausible reason for the turnaround (on offense, anyway; with Santiago gone, we still have no idea who anybody is on defense) in the QB switch, and as happened in the book and movie (and in real life), the team gives a valiant effort but eventually loses to the more talented team.

Beyond the plot and theme, though, what really made "Underdogs" feel special in spite of its familiarity was the work done by director Jeffrey Reiner and his production team, who, like the Panthers, left it all out there on the field. The visual and aural palettes were beautifully used throughout and made everything seem more intense, whether it was the flashing lights at the pep rally while Tami and Eric are debating what to do about the McCoys, or the music nearly dropping out as Saracen and the offense watched South Texas drive for the game-winner, or the eerie silence of Riggins walking back into the empty stadium to leave his cleats on the field, like a soldier laying down his shield on the field of a brutal battle.

If you define the success or failure of a "Friday Night Lights" episode by how high it raises the goosebumps on your arm, then "Underdogs" was a tremendous success, the best episode of the season since Smash left in "Hello Goodbye." It felt right, and moving, and all those emotions we associate with the show when it's clicking.

It wasn't just the game action, either. Moments like Landry coaxing a better essay out of Tyra in the car were just as good -- that one especially because it invoked Street's injury from the pilot, which was the seismic event responsible for changing the lives of every other character on the show. And so even though Tyra can be an incredible drama queen, and even though she and Landry seem to have the same conflicts over and over again (give or take a dead body in the river), it's worth it for scenes like that, or for hearing Tyra read the final draft of the essay over the montage of everybody else getting ready for the big game.

All that being said, "Underdogs" also illustrated an inescapable flaw of the third season, which is that 13 episodes is far too few to adequately chronicle the football season while still servicing every character -- especially since 8 of those 13 had to devote large swaths of time to giving Street and Smash appropriate farewells. Now, the Street and Smash stories were among the season's highlights (Smash in particular), but it's become more and more obvious as we go into these final episodes that the writers are having to use shorthand to tell most of the remaining characters' stories.

JD is a 15-year-old kid, and so I can understand why he might go running back to Daddy's embrace even after Joe smacked him around in the last episode. But to go from him sitting on Eric's patio and flatly declaring that he never wants to see Joe again, to him being happy at home and then angry that Eric and Tami brought the cops into the matter, felt jarring. I can fill in the gaps in my head, but it's the kind of story that could have breathed more in a regular 24-episode season.

Similarly, Grandma Saracen's dementia allows the writers a certain amount of latitude when it comes to her ever-shifting attitude about Matt, and Shelby, and Matt's quest to go to college out of state, but the changes still feel abrupt.

And, for that matter, I still have no sense of why Landry is on the team, how much he really cares about it, and whether Coach would actually tolerate "Lance" missing the bus to Austin and still let him start. As I said for a lot of season two, I think the story of Landry joining the team had a lot of potential, but they passed over the good stuff in favor of the murder arc. This year, meanwhile, what little we've seen of Landry in a football context suggests he's an end-of-the-bench joke and doesn't really mind that status. So for him to be so fired up about the chance to play special teams, and so upset at the thought that Tyra wouldn't be there to see him do it, seemed to come out of nowhere.

I understand that it was 13 episodes or nothing, and I respect and appreciate Jason Katims and company's attempt to do right by both their outgoing actors and the ones who'd be around all season. And these gaps in the story don't really derail the good things that are happening. But they're noticeable, and they've only grown as we're this close to the season finale next week.

Some other thoughts on "Underdogs":

* Lyla's morning ordeal at Casa Riggins -- complete with having to use coffee filters as a cover on the toilet seat, a glimpse of a nude Billy, and then Billy having to piss in the sink (as George Costanza would say, "It's all pipes, Jerry!") -- was one of Minka Kelly's funnier moments to date, and a very candid approximation of what life is like under that roof.

* Another underfed subplot: there's no real comment Mac's return from his heart problems (other than him joking that he can't afford stress) or on the fact that that weasel Wade Aikman is somehow still on staff even with Mac gone.

* Even with the various scholarship possibilities that Shelby talked about with Matt a few episodes ago, I understand that the Art Institute ain't cheap. Still, I thought it was a nice choice from both a character (Matt's always loved to draw) and actor (Zach Gilford's from Illinois) perspective.

* I'm not sure exactly what was the timetable on the production for this episode, but while Matt comparing himself to Seneca Wallace from the Seattle Seahawks -- the backup QB who also frequently plays wide receiver -- was accurate, given what happened to Wallace and virtually every skill position player in Seattle this season, I expected poor Matt's leg to fall off before the interview was over.

* It's been a while since I watched "State," but I don't recall that episode spending so much time lingering on the Austin skyline -- which has been the working home to the show for three seasons now -- but I loved a lot of the shots here, particularly Matt and Tim playing Frisbee against the backdrop of the state capitol building. "Last game, Seven." Damn.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: In case you somehow missed the joyous news by now, NBC and DirecTV have teamed up to order two more seasons of "Friday Night Lights." So next week's "Tomorrow Blues" will not be the series finale, and I can't wait to discuss the implications of that seven days from now. For those of you who watched the DirecTV run and know what's coming, please keep it under your hats for just a little bit longer.

What did everybody else think?


Omagus said...

I'm going to try my best to avoid those spoilers since I don't have DirecTV and will just be starting Season 3 from the beginning.

One question though: how many episodes are in this season?

Chris Littmann said...

Omagus -- 13 episodes this season. This was the second-to-last of the season.

Alan -- One major reason they didn't linger on the Austin skyline during "State" in Season One: the game wasn't played there. If you'll recall, the game was played at Texas Stadium in Dallas. I'm guessing they decided it'd be easier to just shoot in Austin. I think they actually play some (couldn't figure out if it was all) of the State games at Reliant Stadium in Houston now.

I think what's most disappointing is that I agree with you, this episode was great, but for people who didn't have the luxury of watching a DVD screener 7-10 days ago, there was a really long gap between episodes and after a strong episode like "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," there was a little momentum lost. (Expanded thoughts here. Can't wait to pick Jason Katims' brain tomorrow. If anyone has anything they're dying to ask him -- and I hope this isn't totally stepping on Alan's toes -- let me know!)

Anonymous said...

Alan -

I don't share your problem with Landry's reaction. He knows that he's never going to be a big part of the team, and that's probably why he never tried out in freshman year (or whatever year it was for him). I think we've grown to see that Landry does seem to have a pretty good grip on his limitations - he knew that Tyra was out of his league when they started out.

Now, if you know that you're never going to get any real playing time, you're going to play it off like it doesn't matter - but it does. His excitement at getting a shot showed that he did want to play, he just didn't think it was going to happen.

Besides, the bigger part of that story was what he did when he found out - he ran to tell Tyra. It reminds me of the Mad About You episode where (in a flashback before they were married) Paul was going for his annual New Year's walk or something alone and didn't want Jamie (I think that was Helen Hunt's character) to come with him. They got in a fight and he just left - but when he came back she asked it how it was.

He replied that the thing that kept happening was that every time some thought occurred to him, he wanted to tell her about it, but she wasn't there. And that's how he knew he wanted to marry her. When you really care about someone, when something big happens in your life, the first thing you want to do is tell them and share it with them.

For Landry, the most exciting thing about getting to play was that he was going to tell Tyra and she was going to be excited for him and that was almost better than actually getting to play. I mean, what's better than having someone you care about get genuinely excited and happy for you?

Of course, Tyra was busy, which knocked him off his high perch - but that outcome didn't even occur to him as he was running in the door to tell her. And it's not like we needed to learn that Landry likes her, but it still was a good moment over on my side of the screen.

Love the blog, and I look forward to the press tour updates.

wjm said...

If Landry is as smart as we're led to believe he is, he's on the football team because it gives him a chance to sit back and silently chuckle at all the ego-building and B.S. And, being still human, he also appreciates the fact that, "Dayum...I'm a Dillon Panther! Woot!"

That's Observation 1. Observation 2 comes from knowing enough about writing (though I've never tried to make a living at it like some talented people) to know that when you let your brain dwell on something else, is when the best stuff comes out. That's why it was so "real" to watch Tyra behind the wheel, being asked just the question she needed to hear, to spill out a lovely college app essay. One year from now, my own lovely young lady will be chewing that pencil, and I hope hers is 1/10th as genuine. (Side-note: Landry's "needlepoint pillow" comment will likely be my favorite line of the entire 2008-09 television season.)

Observation 3 is a bit more earthy.

If that's the last we see of Tim Riggins, I'm gonna be seriously annoyed.

Mo Ryan said...

For some reason, I thought that Landry wrote Tyra's essay -- and that she was just reading out what he'd written for her, based on their conversation.

When it became obvious that she'd written it -- goosebumps. Tears. Definitely the old magic back.

Without a doubt, the music and the editing at the end of the game was FNL at its best -- the show that almost seems to work best in the silent moments. Except when Tyra's reading her essay or Coach is talking, then the words work just fine.

This is part of my problem with another season -- thought to be clear, I would *not* say no to a Season 4. But anyway, how could any other characters take the place of Tyra, Riggs, Saracen? That's the double bind they're in -- in the third season of telling these characters' stories, there's bound to be repetition. But if they bring in a whole new crew, who could make me get all misty as Tyra and Landry did in this episode?

Btw, is Landry a junior? They seem to be strenuously avoiding saying what year he is. If there's been talk of his post-graduation plans, I've missed it.

One last thing: The Riggins boys have been one of my favorite things about this season. Life at Chez Riggins -- hilarious.

Texas forever.

Michael said...

In retrospect, they spent way too much time on the Smash and Street storylines. With just 13 episodes in the season, they shouldn't have spent large chunks of 8 of them on just those two at the expense of everyone else.

I'm not sure exactly what was the timetable on the production for this episode...

The stadium parts of the episode were filmed the first week of November. I drove from Houston to Austin to see the Longhorns play Baylor on Nov. 8th, and the field was in uncharacteristically bad shape. Some of the locals said that it was because FNL had been filming there during the week (which spoiled for me the fact that the Panthers were going to make State).

Are Landry, Julie (both seniors) and JD (sophomore) going to be the only holdover characters if there's a season 4? I'd hate to see half that season spent on following up with Riggins, Lyla, and Saracen.

R.A. Porter said...

I enjoyed this episode a lot, but thought the entire JD storyline ended up being a waste of a season. It just didn't go anywhere interesting, dramatic, or real, instead giving us a cartoon villain and a family that became self-defensive when attacked from the outside. That's not even close to the kind of tale they could have told.

And both TheWife and I thought Tyra's rant would have produced a better essay than the Hallmark card she ended up with. Stripper sister? Drunk mother? That's Harvard material. Learning that life's not fair because a guy you don't much like gets paralyzed? Meh. (I know, I know...I'm dead inside.)

More of my thoughts - including my rhapsodizing about Matt Saracen (see, I do have a heart) in my review here.

Bryan said...

Another terrific episode though I agree with Alan, and others, that it was rushed somewhat. Have you ever seen not-drunk Riggins smile as much in any ep as he did last night. He looked practically blissfull in many of his scenes. He had definitely come to terms with some things - I think his chip is completely gone.

Bryan said...

"Stripper sister? Drunk mother? That's Harvard material."

Tyra's rant on paper would've looked like manipulation to Harvard (or any other school)- besides who ever said she was trying for Harvard?

Anonymous said...

The X-Men comic book propped up on Tim's bedside table was a nice shoutout to Kitsch's upcoming role in the new Wolverine movie.

Dennis WEilson said...

I was particularly amused that, on the bus, Riggins was missed and Landry was not.

isaac_spaceman said...

Alan -- like you, I loved the episode (posted over at Throwing Things), but you missed one other continuity gap. As South Texas lines up to kick the field goal, the announcer says that their kicker hasn't missed one from that distance all year. But it was 28-27 at that point, so unless South Texas had driven to inside the two-yard line, their kicker apparently had missed an even shorter extra point that very game. I guess they could have had two field goals instead of a TD and a missed XP (we saw three TDs, right?), but that would have meant that they scored on five drives in the first half. That's a lot of drives.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Isaac, it's possible that there was a failed two-point conversion. Or do they not have that in Texas high school ball?

Bryan said...

That would be a lot of drives Isaac but remember also that at least two of their touchdowns were defensive - they ran back two interceptions. Also they first scored on the second play of the game - so that would've left them plenty of time to kick two field goals.

isaac_spaceman said...

Bryan -- I guess that's right. I suppose in a way that makes the second half make more sense -- the defense would have allowed one long offensive TD and two field goals, but otherwise would have stopped ST. That makes the second half performance more credible. Occam's razor goes to Bryan.

Alan -- it seems exceedingly unlikely to me that a team outplaying the Panthers as thoroughly as ST was would leave a perfect kicker on the bench to go for two in the first half.

Anonymous said...

South TX scored a td on the long pass, 2 ints returned for tds, and 2 field goals.

Episode was pretty good, but I felt that CPS thing was kind of a stretch. If the police were not called the night of the incident and it appears that the McCoys got back together and were working things out would anyone call after the fact.

Eric said...

Jeff Reiner knows how to bring that FNL magic. Here's hoping next week is a Katims/Reiner affair.

On the season 2 DVD, Katims said that the decision was made to have the Panthers win state in season 1 to avoid making the rest of series feel like it was constantly building up to a Panthers state championship. Given the lack of intensity and feeling of importance of the non-state games in this season, I wonder if in retrospect delaying the Panthers' championship past season 1 would've been such a bad idea.

None of this takes away anything from this episode--I just wish some of the episodes before it hadn't been such yawners.

Geri said...

Ok...great episode, amazing but damn - I´ll give you guys a virtual hug if you can tell me what songs were playing during Tyra´s essay and during Coach´s speech in the lockerroom...anyone?

Rick said...


During Tyra's essay: "Something's Going to Come" by Adem
It was silent during Coach's speech. Immediately afterwards, though: "Places" by Fountains of Wayne

Great episode. Loved it all.

My one gripe: No QB, especially one who had spent time as a wide receiver, would run with the ball so far away from his body. Tuck it in, Matt!

Anonymous said...

isaac, PATs and field goals are separate statistics and wouldn't impact one another. If the kicker had missed a PAT earlier, the announcers likely would have said, "He hasn't missed a field goal from this distance all year... of course there was that missed point after attempt in the first half". My guess was two field goals (not a big deal to have 5 scoring drives in one half).

My football problem came with the coin flip. Dillon was in white (suggesting they were the "visiting team") and they let South call it.

I also am worried about this rushed season/series finale. As much as we hated Julie in the second season, you have to admit that this season she's been pretty good in the background of most of the main plot points. Her own story clearly revolves around her relationship with Matt and where it is headed, so it feels like they could have done more to build up her scene with Grandma Saracen in the football stands during practice. That scene was just begging to have so much meaning and symbolism, but there really wasn't enough time to develop it. And Matt's character development has been pretty predictable since he and Julie spent the night together and he gained comfort in his role with the team. He had so many powerful moments during season 1 that he's almost been wasted as a character this last part of the series.

And, what everyone hasn't brought up yet, is how are Coach and Mrs. Taylor going to go out in the finale? Even if the series wants to leave open the possibility of a fourth season, I would guess the writers would try and give some resolution to the adults in Dillon (right now the focus has been on all the kids). I'm not saying leave with a cliffhanger (like Coach taking another job), but I really hope Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler get their "moment" in the final episode.

Shalise said...

In response to the Anonymous comment above regarding CPS... The punchline is that both Tami and Eric are mandated reporters, which means it is part of their jobs to report problems like that to the state.
The Taylors had endeared themselves to the McCoys (well, not Joe) and were trying to support JD and Katie as friends and as a mentor. So in that capacity it makes no sense to call CPS three days after the incident and seeing that the family was working on it. That is why Tami did not want to do so. She and eric were told both that they had to and that other people knew they had to. As much as I dislike Mr. Trucks, he made a solid point about Tami not really knowing the situation.
The Taylors would have put themselves in a position to be fired while leaving JD at risk if they had not called. All this is why it was so difficult for them to call, why JD tore coaches heart out asking "Why", why JD self destructed on the field and why Tami was so upset when Kati asked her to forgiver her for wanting nothing to do with the Taylors.

Geri said...


Thanks for the songs. I actually meant the scene during half time - I found it, it´s "Sigh Your Children" by ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of The Dead. Thanks!

erin said...

I always judge the excellence of an FNL episode by how much it makes me cry, and when Tyra read her college essay, I CRIED. So the whole thing worked for me, even the kiss between her and Lance (ha!)--it felt genuine and earned.

LOVED Billy peeing in the sink and how disgusting Lyla knows the Riggins house is. Girls just can't handle that for long periods of time.

My issue with JD is not necessarily his storyline, but that he's a weak actor. I like his parents, but he just doesn't have much range, which takes away from the power of the story.

I showed my parents the ENTIRE first two seasons of FNL over the holidays--that's some serious TV watching in less than 2 weeks. We sometimes watched 5-6 episodes a night. And they were as in love with it as I was. The FNL love knows no bounds! They're extremely excited about the NBC premiere next week.

I'm so sorry to see it go, and i don't think it's going to make it to a 4th season, but I just love this show. And this episode was just...wonderful. I'm grateful to Katims for bringing it back to its roots. And grateful to my folks for appreciating how great it is!

R.A. Porter said...

@erin, I'm the self-appointed Sumpter defender around here. Before you decry Jeremy's strength as an actor, keep an eye open for reruns of Clubhouse, a short-lived drama from CBS. They sometimes show up on HDNet.

When I first saw Sumpter had gotten cast on FNL, I was excited. I'd have to agree that he hasn't brought enough to the character, but I'm not sure anyone could have.

belinda said...

It is going to be hard to say goodbye to this show next week. Though, it does seem a very natural point for the show to end. But it's going to be hard.

-I thought Tyra's essay was a great way to wrap up the show and be really hearfelt and sincere. It's a good step to bringing the show to what I hope would be a satisfying conclusion.

-I liked how even Mac pointed out in the show how similar this was to the season 1 State. Which reminds, me shockingly, I can't even remember what happened at the end of season 2. Did they go to State last year? But anyway, this episode's only shown that one can still get chills from similar scenarios when they do a good job.

- Riggens and Saracen playing frisbee. It was a nice moment, but with an added bit of loneliness -I felt the void left by Smash and Jason right there.

- Billy peeing in the sink. :D Yes, we've all heard the jokes there before, but that made me chuckle.

- When you mentioned that the season would have benefited from a longer season, I cannot agree more. There were a lot of plot developments I wished we were able to have seen instead of just infer.

- Santiago! Yes, what happened to him? It's a small grumble, but I do hate it when shows do that.

belinda said...

Oh, and the final shot of Riggens and the empty field?


Alan Sepinwall said...

Did they go to State last year?

No. The TV season ended, due to the strike, before the football season did. When we came back this year, we were told that Smash returned from his suspension and injured his knee, which pretty much killed the Panthers playoff hopes.

Sonia said...

LOOOOOOOVED this epsiode -- and so HAPPY that we get two more seasons!! Are they two more 13 episode seasons, or are they going to be longer seasons? Obviously, I'd prefer longer so they can spend more time on some of these characters.

If Tim left his cleats on the field, do you think that means he's done playing forever? I know he has the chance to go to college (with Lyla), but he seemed rather excited about Riggins Rigs.

King Killer Studios said...

I'd kind of hoped they'd zoom in a bit and we'd see a 6 on the shoes. I'm a cheeseball.

-- Sarah Bunting

R.A. Porter said...

@Sonia, They're two 13-episode seasons that are apparently going to be shot all together.

SteveInHouston said...

A follow-up to Michael's post from earlier:

The field for the A&M game was indeed torn up by, among other things, filming this episode. It led to a noticeably bad surface and lots of slips especially early on.

As a result, the University of Texas decided to replace the natural grass field with the kind of artificial turf you see at many places, including Giants Stadium. The main reason for this was so that Texas could continue to offer a venue for all kinds of uses, including filming stadium scenes. This has irritated a lot of purists around here, but In This Economy (tm), every revenue stream helps.

Speaking of revenue streams, the University is now selling squares of the recently removed turf (click my name to see a blog post on the subject). You too can own a hunk of grass that was trod upon by Vince Young and/or Kyle Chandler.

This has, of course, led to all kinds of jokes that the AD is selling grass for a lot cheaper than what you'd expect to pay on South Congress. It's pretty much a given that Matthew McConaughey has bought several squares and smoked 'em all.

EricaYO said...

I actually thought Tim was leaving Jason's shoes in the end zone.

I really loved this episode, and I am glad to know there are 2 more seasons ahead. I have faith that the show can create more compelling characters over the next few years.

Jim said...

More than JD forgiving Joe McCoy--the kid's been brought up to see Daddy's approval as more important than oxygen--Katie McCoy turning into Joe's biggest defender was a big disappointment. Even moreso was Tami's stuttering reaction to Katie's anger. I wanted Tami to serve up a big slice of ferocious truth, with a tender side of wisdom.

As to the rest: I called what would happen at halftime, and in the second half, before it happened, but I still loved every sentimental, predictable minute of it.

You could read in Riggins's face that hanging out at Riggins' Rigs, drinking beer and fixing engines with Billy, was much more appealing to Tim than college.

Not to be mean, but does anyone think Matt's sketches looked good enough for the Art Institute? I was reminded of Pam Beasley's art show.

There was a small moment when Lorraine turned to Shelby and made some comment on the game. Somehow, you just knew Lorraine was blaming Shelby for something.

Anonymous said...

When a wrestler leaves his shoes on the mat, it means that he is retiring for good. I wonder if that means that riggins has decided to not play football in college

Also, I wouldn't say that the JD is a bad actor. You have to remember that he is playing a freshman that has been sheltered his entire life. I think he has portrayed the character very well, even though he doesn't seem that interesting

Benjamin Birdie said...

UGH! Heartbreaking.

They took the Adem song out from under Tyra's essay on the Hulu version of this episode.

What are the odds it will return for the DVD?

Damn. That was one of the best music based sequences I've ever seen and now it's gone to the ether.

EssPee said...

Grr. The San Francisco NBC affiliate pre-empted FNL for a preseason As-Giants game, and apparently didn't reschedule it. Guess I'll have to catch up on Hulu, which is a drag because I don't *like* watching TV on a computer. That's why I have a TV :-).

Apropos word verification: dewoopsi. Heh.

Yeechang Lee said...

"And, being still human, he also appreciates the fact that, "Dayum...I'm a Dillon Panther! Woot!""
I occasionally regret not having tried out for my college's rowing team despite having one of its members suggest it (I have the height for it) at the time and, years later, a former member of the national Olympic team confirm that the suggestion wasn't out of left field.

No matter what great things Landry goes off to do (and presumably out of Dillon), he'll always be able to say that his high school football team went to the state championships. There are worse things than being a perennial bench warmer for such a team, especially when he has seen a little bit of playing time and has had the chance for at least one moment of heroics.

"Grr. The San Francisco NBC affiliate pre-empted FNL for a preseason As-Giants game, and apparently didn't reschedule it."
This puzzled me as I am in San Francisco and the episode was waiting for me on the video recorder as per normal. Turns out that the airing was moved to KICU, the electronic schedule was duly updated, and my system recorded it without a hitch. Yay for MythTV and SchedulesDirect!

Yeechang Lee said...

"And both TheWife and I thought Tyra's rant would have produced a better essay than the Hallmark card she ended up with. Stripper sister? Drunk mother? That's Harvard material."
Disagree. I groaned inside once Tyra's rant began, so sure I was that Landry would say something to the effect that she had just written the perfect essay. It's what a lesser television show would have done.

Landry instead used the moment to probe further into Tyra's motivations, to help her figure out what changed for her two years ago. In the end, that's a better dramatic moment, and a better college essay, than a teenage version of a country-and-western song.

spiderpig said...

I really liked that JD's problems with the Coach weren't resolved at the end of the game. One of the key differences between JD and the rest of the guys on the team that they've focused on in the past three years is that most of them (Matt, Riggins, Smash and even Santiago) have not had strong father figures in their lives. But JD does and I think that is a very important difference. So when he said "I just play football for you" I think what he was saying was "I already have a father". Yes, Coach Taylor is an awesome man and father (almost Saint-like sometimes), but he is not JD's father and I like that JD made that point clear. I know Joe has been demonized, but really in his own deranged way, he only wants what's best for JD and I don't think he'll be winning "worst father of the year" any time soon. When the CPS asked JD if Joe had ever hit him or his mother before, JD looked simply horrified. So we can only assume they've had a great relationship up until the last episodes when JDs wanted to go his own way. And really lots of kids have to force themselves out of the nest from a clingy parent, so I didn't find that very unusual. I'm so glad that JD asserted himself and stood by his dad and his family. It didn't seem jarring to me at all. JD was mad at his dad (of course) but Joe is still his father and it's not surprising for him to be happy at home again. I'm sure he just wants things to go back to normal like any other kid would.

jcpbmg said...

As many others have mentioned (and Alan's title calls out)- my biggest knock is the fact that they should have run down the clock and not just go for a quick score.

Granted we all give FNL some leeway with regard to football accuracy- however Coach would know better than to misuse the clock like that

Anonymous said...

they took the Adem song out from under Tyra's essay on the Hulu version of this episode.

Dang. I was going to rewatch the show on Hulu to pick up that show. Do you remember the name of the song?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Appropos of something, Todd Marinovich, who's basically who JD McCoy was modeled on, was just arrested again.

Zachary said...

When I saw that Dillon left South Texas (could that be more vague?) time to score, I knew they were going to lose.

Riggins putting his cleats on the field reminded me of Rulon Gardner putting his shoes on the mat after winning gold in Athens.

That morning scene at Chez Riggins was both horrifying and hilarious. Billy peeing into the sink was just wrong. Since Lyla was already in the bathroom, he couldn't have just jumped into the shower and done the deed in there. I guess there isn't enough privacy outside for him to go pee on a tree like I had to a few times when I growing up and living at my dads (10 people; 7 women; 1 bathroom; you do the math).

When I read Tyra's essay in last week's TV Guide, I thought it was a April Fool's joke. Bastards.

Zachary said...

Apparently, the DVDs of Season 3 will be the NBC versions only with music changes.

That really blows. I was hoping the episodes would contain both cuts via seamless branching. If they can't change it, maybe the cut scenes will show up as deleted scenes? Better than nothing.

Eric said...

That's an all-around bummer about the DVD. Fans really should be making more noise about this.

I really wish I knew more about how music licensing works for these DVDs, because it's like a cruel joke when the original music gets pulled out of a crucial and memorable scene.

Since the episodes are posted on Hulu and other outlets, maybe the immediate concern is licensing the music for the internet, and then those versions just get used for the DVD.

It seems like a confusing process. I remember hearing a Rogue Wave song that was removed on the FNL season 1 DVD on the Hereos DVD. Maybe it has to do with the individual budgets alloted to each show?

Jennifer said...

I don't think we'll be losing either Saracen or Riggins next year, because clearly neither of them are going to college. Riggins will, at best, drop out by halfway through the first semester, and Matt will be too guilted by his grandma to ever go. Both will hang around Dillon, working crap jobs and having a sad life for 13 more episodes.

I deeply enjoyed Lyla being all "Yeah, I'm gonna go to SAS and shack up with Tim! Didn't things work out great, Dad?" and then making out with Tim right next to Dad. Subtle daughter revenge there, even if she did agree to move back in. (Though really, (a) we should have seen the "Ewww, gross" thing earlier when Lyla first moved in, and then (b) you know she'd girl it all up, clean the place, and buy various girly things to put in there.)

I do like how despite repeating the "State" themes, they took the "almost!" turn. You don't Gryffindor to win House Cup every single year, it just seems biased if you do. So good on them for not repeating the fairy tale either.

Anonymous said...

My favorite football scene in the movie was the HB pass to Winchell for the TD in the playoffs montage. I was hoping we would see Saracen have to dive for that pass to make it a clear homage to the movie.

CC said...

There's a short but enjoyable interview w/Jesse Plemmons about FNL here:

BDUB said...

Wow I just found this blog today and I am excited to read and post along next season. It will have to be the NBC version because my building couldn't get DirecTV (I tried the day I heard about the season 4 and 5 renewal but our building has a deal with Comcast). Anyway your thoughts are right on. I thought I missed a scene when I saw Mac back coaching. Usually I think shows are better when their seasons are not so long, I'm thinking The Wire, Mad Men, Extras etc. But you are right; a 13 episode season cannot properly chronicle an entire football season. That being said wouldn't it be cool if season 4 ended in the middle of the football season and 5 picked up where 4 left off?