Thursday, January 11, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Blondes have more angst

I leave for the airport shortly, so some quick thoughts on "Friday Night Lights" before I go...

Definitely not one of my favorite episodes. In its best moments, "FNL" feels almost documentary-like in its authenticity, which is why I get uncomfortable when it starts acting like Just Another High School Drama, and the Saracen and Tyra stories both fell into the latter category.

A shrieking Tyra chasing her mom's abusive (and, compared to Tyra, tiny) boyfriend around the house with a poker? Would have been a great moment if we'd seen any of this dynamic before. Instead, Tyra's been the show's forgotten character (Landry gets more respect), popping up on occasion to snap at Lyla or Riggins, then walk off as someone comments on how long her legs are. So all the stuff with her mom (whose every appearance made me want to say, "Can I borrow your towel? My car just hit a water buffalo") was far too rushed to have any real impact.

Saracen's story, meanwhile, ended far too easily. A week ago we saw Matt so far at the end of his rope that he can't even see the rope, and now he's just hunky-dory sending his dad back to Iraq? They tried to sell us on the idea that nothing had changed, workload-wise, but again, they rushed the job too much for it to work. As with Tyra, this would have played out better over several more episodes. (Also, isn't Matt just the littlest bit concerned about his dad dying? I know Harry's not working in combat, but engineers are getting killed over there, too.)

Outside of the "Waverlash" joke (somebody on the writing staff hangs around message boards), Smash's subplot wasn't too special, either, with his big speech another "Hi. You're watching a fresh episode on the CW" moment. Really, if it wasn't for the Street story and the usual slice of Taylor domesticity, I would have written the episode off as a total loss.

What did everybody else think? See you all when I get to LA.


Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly. It was all too neat and wrapped up in a bow.

I'll tune in next week for sure, but if episodes like that one continue, I might not be so sad if the show gets cancelled.

Anonymous said...

I do wish we'd seen more of Tyra's family before this happened, but I was still happy they didn't go with the "mom chooses the boyfriend and Tyra moves out" plot. I like all of the characters enough that the neatness of the storylines this time around wasn't an overwhelming concern for me, but I agree the episode was not among the best.

I loved Buddy Garrity at church, too. And although there was no chance the Panthers wouldn't make the playoffs this early in the television season, the excitement of the town was still nice to watch.

I've enjoyed so much of this season that no matter what happens, I'll be pretty disappointed if it ends this year, though I'm not holding my breath.

Kristen said...

I feel like I'm watching a different show than you are, Alan, because I thought it was a great episode. What I enjoy most about this show is that it's letting us get to know the characters over time, and so what we thought we knew about them turns out to be only a small piece of their life.

Tyra's homelife wasn't all that sudden to me, in that context, and it fit with her keen desire to get out of town but also her inability to let Tim completely go after their breakup. (I also liked seeing a genuinely tender moment between those two, because it showed us why they were together for a year before we met them.)

But that slow reveal also works with instroducing us to the adults: we're seeing more and more of Buddy's humanity, and we got to see why Jason's parents are suing and what it's costing them, and we saw that Matt's dad is not just a cardboard cutout of a thoughtless parent. None of them are cardboard villains, even stupid Bob.

Anonymous said...

I am a bit confused by the Saracen father story. What did this guy do before Iraq? If he was a full-time soldier, wouldn't Matt have been moving around with him and not settled in Texas? I guess it just surprised me that the dad would have no idea what to do with his life other than be in a war.

This may have been explained in an episode (I was a bit late finding the show), so any input would help. Overall, I didn't mind the episode but it was nothing like last week. I was shocked to see Street and Lyla so friendly with each other so quickly.

AndyW said...

You're wrong, Alan: Even the Street plotline sucked. "You'll always be my coach?" Gag me with a sugar substitute. And what's with his pharmacist dad apparently having crap health insurance (yeah, everything would still be super-expensive, but the Streets are acting like they're destitute, plus Jason looks older than his mom).
The Taylor family home life was the only redeeming element.

Anonymous said...

james, at some point in the episode, Matt mentions that Saracen Sr.has been a soldier for the past 20 years.

Anonymous said...

Budget cut, or a pandering to the masses (in that the episodes are more self-contained so as to appease casual viewers)?

Anonymous said...

I liked this week's episode. Other than the Tyra stuff (which always seems like a separate show, or at the very least a spinoff), the rest fit well with the plots. A smalltown pharmacist having crappy health insurance seems perfectly realistic to me, as does Street's struggle conflict over the lawsuit.

K J Gillenwater said...

I agree with you, Alan, on the rush job of the Saracen story line. Dad works as a car salesman for, what, 2 days, and Matt can already sense his dad will hate that kind of life? Also, do the writers even understand how the military works? You don't just decide one day that you are getting out and then are instantly a civilian. And you don't just hop right back in...Plus, it was mentioned that the dad had served in the military for 20 years. He could retire, have some income, and still be okay without a job for a little bit. Doesn't look like they live in the best part of town, so how high could their expenses be?

The Tyra thing was just dumb. It didn't change anything about her life at all. If there was a point to the a reason for her to move out and try living on her own...then I could see. But this resulted in no forward movement of Tyra whatsoever.

My least favorite was the Smash/Waverly story. No way would a girl like Waverly ever be interested in this self-centered jerk. He doesn't listen to her, doesn't have an interest in anything that she's interested in, but yet he claims that he likes her more than he has liked any other girl. Waverly is stupid if she dates this guy. He doesn't seem to know a thing about her or care to know.

Anonymous said...

AndyW, Even if you have great insurance that covers the medical bills, you still need to come up with money to pay for making your home and autos wheelchair-friendly. Plus there might be a need for counseling for the whole family. Insurance doesn't always cover that.