Thursday, January 04, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Why Timmy can read

"Friday Night Lights" spoilers coming up just as soon as I figure out what to name my Jewish speed metal band...

Ah, so good to have it back, and especially on a night when I was feeling down about the end of "The O.C." Sure, "FNL" isn't likely to make it to next season, but on a night when I was mourning one intelligent teen drama, it was nice to have another to turn to.

First things first: I'm going to figure out a way to work "I'm crippled, and I want to listen to Nirvana!" -- or other variants, like, "I'm crippled, and I want to eat some fro-yo!" or "I'm crippled, and I want to watch Rocky III!" -- into everyday conversation. "This place is not well-built!" has joined "Is that something you might be interested in?" in my conversational dustbin, and this seems a good replacement.

Liked the montage of Street getting ready in the morning; it reminded me of a similar bit on "Ed" where we saw Eli get dressed. (Though, of course, Chill Mitchell is really paralyzed, where Scott Porter could go run track tomorrow if he wanted.) I have to assume that the "dirty, dirty, dirty quad porn" video was the reason for the vague parental advisory at the start of the episode, and I'm happy the show is dealing more with the realities of Jason's situation, even if the discussion is yet another "Murderball" lift. (The actor who plays Herc is a little too hammy, but his comment about Street's unit looking out for him by going limp was almost as funny as the Nirvana line.)

Riggins and Landry as new BFFs felt more TV-ish than the show usually gets, the sort of thing done not because it feels organic but because two underused characters need something to do. (Speaking of which, what the hell was that preview with Tyra for next week? Until I freeze-framed it, I thought that her abusive dad was Coach Taylor and the woman being abused was Tami. Very weird.) Still, both Crucifictorius and the stigmata-themed band names were hilarious, and I like Landry, so I'll deal.

(Another Riggins question: did I hear Tami right that he's taking the same class as Julie? Isn't Rigg a senior like Street, and Julie a sophomore, maybe a junior at most? Not that it's going to be an issue unless last night's ratings were a huge leap up, but I wonder how the show would have dealt with Tim, Jason and Lyla leaving school after the first season.)

How in the world is the show going to contrive to keep Coach from taking the U of Texas QB coach job? Better pay, bigger stage, not all of the pressure is on him, etc. On the other hand, since Mack Brown has already played a Dillon booster back in the pilot, will they have to cast someone else to play him? Or will he slip in some line about having an identical cousin who lives in Dillon?

The meat of the episode was obviously the non-triumphant return of Pa Saracen. Even with the long shot the director used on Tim hugging his dad, you could see the relief overwhelming him, the mistaken belief that his father was going to save him from this hell he had been living in. Turns out daddy just made things worse. His family is absolutely falling apart, his son is being asked to do things no 16 year old should have to if he has a father in the picture, and he doesn't want to come home? No. I'm sorry. No. I understand believing in a cause and the idea of finishing a job you started, but these are extraordinary circumstances.

So, does Taylor take in Matt? And, if so, is that the contrivance that keeps him from making the leap to college?


Anonymous said...

I thought this was a pretty first-rate episode, but then, it seems like the show breaks my heart every week. Murderball rip or no, it isn't often that TV deals with quad sexuality-- or sexual problems of any kind-- with the frankness of last night's episode, and I admired the contrast between Jason's need to assert himself sexually and his romantic ambivalence towards the girl who clearly loves him but slept with his best friend. The Riggins-Landry union may be a bit contrived, but it provided some welcome comic relief and established Landry in particular as a character worth developing more. And then, of course, there's Papa Seresin's return, which is just so brutally disappointing for the overburdened Matt. Despite Taylor's fatherly resistence to anyone dating his daughter, it was touching to see how quickly he read the situation and came to embrace the kid as one of his own. I'll be curious to see how Matt's possible integration into the family might effect his romance with the coach's daughter; if he becomes Taylor's surrogate son, does that mean he's his girlfriend's surrogate brother (ew, right?).

In any case, the episode choked me up on several occasions. Maybe I'm just a sap.

Anonymous said...

Loved the episode as well. We had a discussion last night and decided we liked FNL better than any network drama currently airing right now- and we were huge Lost fans.

Do you think there is any chance Kyle Chandler will be recognized for an award this season? His acting is absolutely pitch-perfect. I'd also suggest the kids who play Saracen and Street as well for supporting roles (they are head and shoulders above the rest of the younger actors except maybe the guy playing Smash), but Chandler is the star so if anyone would be awarded it would be him.

K J Gillenwater said...

I would rather have had Saracen's dad make the argument about having no job and no benefits if he left the Army. That would make more sense. But it is pretty obvious that his dad doesn't really want to be a single father. It was easier for him to dump his kid on his aging mother than take responsibility for him.

It was an excellent episode to start off 2007.

I think the UT job will go away because Coach Taylor will realize the kids on the team need him more than he knew. And he actually wants to be there to help them. The university job might be better paying and come with more prestige, but his impact on the players and their real lives will be diminished.

Anonymous said...

It was great to have this show back. During the game scenes, I find myself rooting for Matt Saracen under my breath. You just want to put your arm around that kid and help him out.

Anonymous said...

I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought it was Coach Taylor and Tami fighting in the preview.

And really, how great is Zach Gilford as Matt Saracen? Kyle Chandler gets most of the accolades as far as the acting goes (and it's well deserved) but Gilford really brings something to the table as well. Just a great performance.

Anonymous said...

Lots of good stuff in this episode -- especially the oh-so-familiar sight of a high school hardcore band playing to a crowd of three. Though with all the weighty teen sex issues and the not-so-weighty Of Mice and Men lessons, I still found myself reacting most to the husband/wife scenes between the Taylors. This week it was the short scene of them taking out the trash, and while it was probably intended as nothing more than a time-filler before U-T called, I found it endlessly romantic. Of all the classic marriages on television, THIS is the one that seems that most real. LOVE IT.

Anonymous said...

Oh, you're not kidding, Rick. It's such a small detail, but I think the married (or *very* romantically committed) among us can understand how the health of relationship ties into division of duties. Seeing your wife dragging hefty trash cans around is a definite Code Red in this regard; hence Coach springing to Mrs. Coach's aid as if the house were on fire.

Anonymous said...

I found Dad Saracen's swallowing of the Bush admin's line a little too easy and strawman-y, and would have liked it better if it had been more along of the lines of him feeling a particular obligation to the people he was serving with, which (I hear) is a plenty common dynamic.

Anonymous said...

Scott T said - with the coach's daughter; if he becomes Taylor's surrogate son, does that mean he's his girlfriend's surrogate brother

And I say - didn't RoseAnne do that with the Darlene character's boyfriend moving in with them to get aways from an abusive parent?

I also love the interaction between the Taylor parents. I think Connie B. is great here - so much more than the movie (and a better looking husband to boot).

I think the parental warning may be because all the teenagers are having a bit too much sex. It seems way to sophisticated for what I recall is teenage sex in the back of a car(OK, I am a bit naive, I'm sure)