Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Friday Night Lights: She's all growns up!

Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" coming up just as soon as I cook up some of my award-winning chili and then take hostages...

In my review today, I talked a bit about the genius of "I Think We Should Have Sex," and while this one wasn't quite as epic, it was another beautiful Taylor family tale. Kyle Chandler's specialty has been the hard-ass, sarcastic side of Coach, and he got to show a compellingly softer side here, especially in the scene where Tami suggests that Julie is really in love with Matt... about three seconds before Julie walks in looking extremely grown-up (but not all hoochie'd out the way she was that time Matt wore his Members Only jacket), and it finally hits him that his daughter is becoming a woman worthy of more respect and consideration.

I especially liked that the story didn't end with Julie's speech at the dance convincing Eric to give up on his dream job. It was much more realistic and, honestly, touching that he heard her out, made it clear that he understood her concerns but couldn't let those concerns be the sole factor in a decision that would affect the whole family's future.

The flip side of that was the story with Tyra and her mom, which very much fit the encroaching TV-ism that occasionally infects the writers. Up until the scene at the dance, I was really going with it, I liked how Mama Collette took Tami's mentoring as an indictment of her own motherhood, how her own hang-ups were making her push her daughter towards the same life she's had. And maybe if she came around to the college plan over time, or if some significant event happened to make her change her mind, I would have gone with the uplifting ending, but as it was, it just felt like the episode was coming to an end and so they had to wrap things up.

Street's story heads back towards making him a part of the main ensemble again. For all the liberties they've taken thus far with the Murderball storyline, it's still only been a few months since Street was put in that chair, and world-class athlete or not, he shouldn't be Paralympic-ready yet.

I've seen next week's episode, but it doesn't take a psychic to figure out what course Jason's going to travel from here. Loved the scene with the four guys -- the former superstar and the three players who have combined to carry the team in his place -- getting drunk, comparing sob stories ("Chair says I win. Every time.") and, eventually, scrimmaging to instill some confidence in poor Matt. Very "Dazed and Confused," only if Pink still gave a crap about the game.

Some other random thoughts:
  • I've talked before about how most of the kids are having to raise themselves and, in some cases, their parents, but this is the first time it's occurred to me that the only kids with fathers in their lives are Julie, Lyla, and Jason. Buddy's a waste of a human being and Mr. Street's clearly distanced himself from his son since the accident, so that really only leaves Julie. Huzzah for the nuclear family!
  • Lyla trashing Buddy's car lot was a nice touch. Minka Kelly's much better when she doesn't have to talk.
  • Is there some revisionist history at work about the Taylor's geographic history? This episode implied that they've moved around a lot over the years as Eric's moved from job to job, but the pilot established that he'd been coaching Street since Pee-Wee football. So unless the Streets have been moving around a lot while the Taylors followed their meal ticket from town to town, that doesn't make sense.
  • For them what care, the band at the Austin club where Street unleashed his bitterness on Herc was a local Austin band called Little Captain Travis. I liked the sound of them but can't find much about them online.
  • My issues with Riggins and the MILF next door story remain the same as last time: Bo's too sitcommy cute, and Taylor Kitsch and Brooke Langton look too close in age.
What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

The late night scene at the football field was perfectly played and written, but it also reinforced a nagging pet peeve of mine with this show, that there always seems to only be three players on the entire team.

Anonymous said...

Loved the late night scene at the field. Great drama.

My favorite part of the episode was the Buddy Garrity car dealership ad. Even cheesier than I could have imagined. Too funny.

I don't mind Riggins & the MILF, other than the fact that the storyline was about as subtle as an Abrams tank rolling down my street. But anything that gets Brook Langton on my TV in HD can't be that bad.

Anonymous said...

Who's the actress that's playing the tattoo artist? I've seen her but can't place her.

Anonymous said...

"Minka Kelly's much better when she doesn't have to talk." As far as I'm concerned, she doesn't need any more lines at all, but she does need to remain on camera.

As for Street, I think it's good that they are bringing him back to the fold so to speak. And maybe it's because I am a proud alumnus of a university that employs someone confined to a wheel chair as a wide receivers coach, but it seems to me that they are angling towards Street becoming a bit of a mentor, either officially or unofficially, to Saracen.

In terms of the Tayor family history, there have been a few other lines as well that have contradicted the earlier story that Street and Taylor go way back. Personally, I prefer that it be a long history, but its splitting hairs.

Anonymous said...


You may have missed the contractions. The band's website is here.

I'm glad they brought Street back into the fold -- but given his likely course, how do the writers wrap up the lawsuit storyline? Lyla's B&E and grand theft auto was fun, but they need to get her back interacting with the rest of the "teens." The scenes where the "kids" interact as a group feel much less forced (TV-ish?) than the individual storyline scenes (MILF, bipolarity, mom's low self-esteem, Murderball, etc.). Maybe there'll be some exploration of the developing Tyra/Lyla role reversal in the remaining episodes.

Saracen's face after he made the play was priceless. Zach Gilford plays insecure and worried so well that the display of pure joy had a real impact. It was a smile without reservations.

Oh, and to the anonymous poster above:
The tattoo artist is played by Alexandra Holden, who has done a bunch of TV and movies.


Anonymous said...

I understand there is comfort in the predictability of television drama. However, wouldn't it have been more interesting to temper the Riggins/MILF inevitability, if only because everyone expected it?

Did anyone in casting realize that the Bo kid can't act?

Enjoyed the father/daughter scenes, especially the contrasted approaches of Buddy and Coach. Both are great awkward, inept and 'fish-out-of-water' when dealing with their daughters. Flip sides of the same coin.

This episode embodies the pitfalls of conscious and unconscious parenting. Seems all the adults had to ponder whether they are willing to sacrifice their ambitions, selfishness, or even pacifism if it will benefit their child.

Anonymous said...

All I have to say is that I loved hearing Coach Taylor tell Julie that Austin is "An arty kinda town." Classic.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You may have missed the contractions. The band's website is here.

I blame the gramatically-correct NBC publicist who told me about them. Thanks.

Zodin2008 said...


Loved, loved, loved the "Dazed and Confused" reference if 'Pink only gave a crap'. Beautiful.

Also, I could see (if there's a S2) Jason Street becoming an assistant coach. That's where their angling which actually lifts a storyline, gasp, from "Varsity Blues" with Street paralleling the Paul Walker character.

Actually, as cheesy as "Varisty" is, this TV show has a lot more parallels with its characters (for example, Minka Kelly is playing close to Amy Smart's character and Tyra is playing close to Ali Larter's while Saracen is Van Der Beek and Street is P. Walker) though obviously, "Friday Night Lights" is more serious and better acted. Given.

But again I wanted to comment on the acting of the Taylor family. Chandler and Britton have (IMHO) again made compelling cases for Emmy, plus the show in general.

I suspect we won't see any nominations come Emmy time (though I am sure somewhere, Ellen Burstyn will be acting for 14 seconds and the Emmy voters can't forget that!), but I would love to see the Taylors and the show get some notice for their work. It's so authentically played. Bravo, FNL.

Anonymous said...

I was just watching some of the videoes on NBC's FNL page and there's an interview with Kyle Chandler, in which he says that Eric coached in Dillon when the kids were in Pee-Wee and then moved away. The Taylors moved back to Dillon a few years ago.

Anonymous said...

There is NO way a Texas high school football coach turns down any type of coaching job with a state university in Austin. NO WAY! Nor would his be anything but supportive.

Anonymous said...

Love your thoughts on the BEST show on TV.

Keep promoting FNL

Clear eyes! Full hearts!Cn't Lose!

A Canadian FNL Fan

Anonymous said...

Taylor wasn't turning down an offer from a state university in Austin, anonymous. First of all, the university was "TMU" or "Texas Methodist," which is fictional and presumably private. Second, he didn't turn it down; he asked for more time to think about it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry I am coming late to the game, so to speak. I just watched the show on the DVR and was frankly disappointed--there was very little depth here this week.

The Taylors, as always, were fantastic--but I concur with a previous poster, NO WAY, would a Texas high school coach turn something like this down. Eric is a really decent, family guy, but even the Mom-of-the-Year agreed he should take the job, and she's the moral compass of the family, maybe even the show.

Sure, I like the idea of Street as a quarterback coach--but it was just too neat. "Oh, I found my calling, saved the day for QB1a, and made up with by former best friend..." And, Alan is so right about the scene at the dance. Tyra's mom may have more redeeming qualities than Riggins' dad, but to get over her self-absorbed, immature, selfish-ways so quickly and with such a silly gesture, really undermined the crafting of the complexities of their relationship.
I have liked the parallels they've drawn in the past between Lyla and Tyra--they could have done so much more here with the two now father-less girls who have more in common than they realize.