Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Clear eyes. Full hearts. CAN'T LOSE!

Spoilers for the "Friday Night Lights" finale coming up just as soon as I give a "whoever smealt it, dealt it" ruling for the passengers of Landry's car...

They gave me a slow clap. Those magnificent bastards at "Friday Night Lights," perhaps worrying that they hadn't already tailored a TV drama to my specific needs -- with the Underdog Sports Movie stuff and the subtle characterization and the docu-cam and the amazing acting and the realistic teen angst -- put in a damn slow clap. I love them all so very, very much right now.

But here's the thing: I'm not sure how happy I am that the Panthers won the big game.

After watching a screener of the finale, I chatted with Maureen Ryan, who was happy about the victory, and Dan Fienberg, who was aghast. My reaction falls somewhere in between, but leaning more towards Dan's point of view. I can see the value of wanting to give the devoted but tiny fanbase a happy ending in the event the series is one-and-done, and I also realize the writers had painted themselves into a corner where Coach couldn't realistically return to Dillon if the team lost. (His lawn would be set afire nightly if he tried to stick around after being such an obvious scapegoat for the loss of a coveted state championship.) But I also feel like a victory -- especially such an improbable zeroes-to-heroes halftime turnabout -- goes against the show's philosophy in general and Coach's halftime speech in particular. (Mo has a full transcript of that particular goosebump-inducing bit of rhetoric, in case you feel the need to recite it before bedtime tonight.)

Maybe if the actual game action had been better-written, I would feel differently. But where most of Dillon's other stirring victories of the season have had some kind of significant character arc to them -- Saracen coming off the bench to save the season after Street's injury, Riggins sobering up and turning into a much more effective ball-carrier, Street turning Saracen into a different quarterback for the Mud Bowl -- the only arc here was for Taylor, and his part was done, as far as we were concerned, after halftime. There was some carryover of The New Saracen with him confidently calling for the hook-and-lateral play with the clock winding down -- and that was, to an extent, Matt making peace with Coach's exit and working with him again -- but this is the first really big game of the season where the actual football (as opposed to the speech) didn't raise my goosebumps. Maybe if they had taken the time over the season to establish a single defensive player, we could have gotten excited about him knocking Voodoo all over the field, but as it was, he was getting hit by the extras.

The rest of the episode, though, was fantastic, if overstuffed, as the producers tried to give closure to every character, again just in case this is it.

The Tyra/Landry story got co-opted into a Tyra/Lyla story halfway through, for instance, though they captured Landry's pain so well throughout. I've been, if not in identical circumstances, then definitely situations where I had built up time spent with a girl into the be-all, end-all, only to have the real world get in the way. There's the great possibilty that, even had things gone perfectly, the girl wouldn't have felt nearly as strongly as I did, just as Tyra tried to let Landry down easy with that peck on the cheek -- which he no doubt will completely misinterpret and lead to months or years of hurt feelings, confusion and humiliation for him. (UPDATE: Well, they cut the kissing scene -- which I describe in the comments -- from the final air version, which means Landry got shortchanged even more. They also tweaked Coach's halftime speech, so Mo's transcript doesn't match the final version.) Sigh... so good, and yet so cruel, and if there's a part of the show where I wish they had sacrificed the reality and thematic faithfulness in favor of giving the fans a happy ending, it's this one. But that's just me.

I'm going to leave discussion of the smaller details of the episode to you fine people -- the Landry party wagon alone is Zapruder-esque in the amount of things you can discover if you study it enough -- and instead move on to the big question: the future. Specifically, will/should there be one?

The news that NBC ordered six scripts doesn't exactly have me jumping out of my chair. It's a minimal-cost way for networks to spin their wheels on a decision while still giving the illusion of hope to the producers and fans of a show, plus it's just sound business with a Writers Guild strike looming. I'm still mostly optimistic about renewal, since Kevin Reilly seems to love the show so much, but I worry that there will be too much pressure from other corners of NBC/GE/Universal/Scheinhardt Wigs for him to go with the bottom line and make "30 Rock" the network's only charity case. I've been burned too many times in the past to get my hopes up.

Or maybe it's just, as I've alluded to here and there (mostly in comments to posts in the last two weeks), I'm starting to wonder if the Good-Looking Corpse approach isn't the right one here. What we have here is a near-perfect season of network television drama, one that, for the most part, gave all its characters a beginning, middle and, if not end, then at least some closure to their stories. I look at what NBC did to, say, "Homicide," from season four on (even parts of season three) and shudder at how the suits might force Katims and Berg to make the show "more accessible." Get ready for the charity car wash episode with Lyla and Tyra giggling in bikinis! More big speeches, less opportunities for the actors to convey what their characters are feeling through a look or body language! More product integration, with the Alamo Freeze going out of business so Saracen and Smash can go work at The Gap! Landry becomes the emcee at the local rock club, where the hottest indie bands stop by for unexpected concerts!

I'm not saying that's what will happen if the show gets renewed, just that it could. (I imagine the bikini car wash note was already made by someone at NBC earlier this season, but Katims went with Powderpuff instead.) I love the show and its characters too much to really wish it into cancellation, but I would hate for it to get renewed and become this thing that tarnishes the memory of what came before.

So let's not worry about renewal right now, since I doubt a decision will be made before upfront week in mid-May, and appreciate the genius we've had the privilege to witness for the past 22 episodes, brilliant moments like:
  • Tami having The Talk with Julie;
  • The prayer circle after the miracle victory in the pilot;
  • The first (and presumably only) concert by Crucifictorius;
  • Street, Smash, Riggins and Saracen getting drunk on the field;
  • Tyra turning into Dick Butkus during Powderpuff;
  • The entirety of "Mud Bowl";
  • The ominous shot of Voodoo making his first walk across the Panthers' practice field;
  • Landry at the Landing Strip;
  • The team getting pelted with food and garbage after the brawl in the racist town;
  • "I'm crippled, and I want to listen to Nirvana!";
  • "Hi, Mrs. Coach.";
  • The Members Only jacket, and Coach's reaction to it;
  • Coach following Mrs. Coach to bed at the end of last week's episode;
  • Saracen singing "Mr. Sandman" to his grandma;
  • The sound of the buzzsaw cutting open Street's helmet in the emergency room;
  • The pure joy on everyone's face at the victory parade (not to mention the season-bookending use of "Devil Town" on the soundtrack);
  • Coach's abrupt mood switch when he found out Saracen had made Julie his quarterback;
  • Tyra getting photographed at the police station like she was the perp and not the victim;
  • Coach deciding to stay in Dillon because of the baby and Tami talking him out of it (though in the end he seems to decide to stay for a reason that he won't regret later);
  • Buddy being magnanimous about Coach's new job;
  • Slammin' Sammy Meade and his listeners not taking more than a second to bask in the victory before piling on Coach for leaving;
  • (Insert your own here, or 12 if you like)

What did everybody else think? And please don't pelt me with food and garbage if you think I'm history's worst monster for second-guessing the desirability of a second season. I'm gonna be mad as hell if the show's not renewed, but I'm feeling awfully protective right about now.


velvetcannibal said...

I'm too overwhelmed with love for the show to wish for only one season. I know I'm inviting its destruction by asking for renewal, but the simple pleasure of watching these characters interact is worth it.

I was torn about the victory, but when I looked back at the season it felt right. It did clash with Coach's speech a bit, but after all these characters have been through during this football season, it felt better to have them rewarded than to make them suffer. I can't wait to own the DVDs and see the episodes I missed. I understand what you're saying about the show being Taylor-made (excuse the bad pun) for you, because I feel the same way. I love all the aspects you've mentioned, and in this case I love the underdog victory.

Anonymous said...

It was a very good episode, but it was also very likely the most predictable episode all season.

And I will say only one thing about the slow clap. It became overly trite twenty years ago and it has absolutely no place in the world of decent fiction. I was ambivalent like Alan regarding whether or not I truly wanted a second season, but now I'm completely 100 percent praying that there'll be a renewal. I just might be sick if the last image I ever see from the show is a FREAKIN' SLOW CLAP! COME ON GUYS!.

Anonymous said...

Umm...are you sure that transcript from Maureen Ryan is accurate? I just watched the show and am remembering it differently...

Abbie said...

But... I wanted more Tyra and Landry.

Anonymous said...

I did laugh at the slow clap, but I thought this was a really beautiful finale. I've come to adore all of these characters, and can't believe how proud I am at how they've grown over the season. (I am easy to manipulate dramatically, it seems.)

Your list was excellent, Alan, and I'm having fun recalling my own 12+ to add.

Anonymous said...

I, too, felt oddly disappointed that the season ended in a win, though you have to love the hook-and-lateral play, no doubt a reference to this year's gadget-happy Cinderella, Boise State. Coach's halftime speech seemed, um, Taylor-made for Ron Shelton ending, in which the team comports themselves like men and goes out with a victory that isn't literally a victory.

But let's not pick nits, because this was another stellar episode. I love how Coach and Mrs. Coach are *still* not on the same page on the TMU decision, even though he thought he was giving her what she (and what perhaps he) wanted by staying in Dillon. And really, some nice character bits all around tonight--overstuffed, maybe, but immensely satisfying to see all the players tended to.

As for the six scripts ordered, I'm cautiously optimistic. A few questions for anyone (presumably Alan) who's in the know: Does this mean that NBC will rerun the whole series over the summer? Could the show's performance at the Emmy's be part of the network's hedge-betting over renewal? What about the DVD?

Anyway, we had at least one glorious season in the sun. Hooray for that.

Anonymous said...

Damn, Alan, your list was perfect. So many great moments.

I'll add a couple:

"That Lance kid."

"They had a blanket!"

Matt singing to a scared Grandma Saracen.

Riggins' banquet speech.

Smash's banquet speech.

Tami's banquet speech.

The Riggins-Lyla, er, events.

Landry tutoring Riggins.

OK, that's more than a few.

Alan, I do think your theory has merit. How can they improve on the perfection that was this season? Of course, I desperately want another season, if only to see Tyra and Lyla getting drunk on Red Bull and vodka behind the gym. Because you know that is coming.

As is more pining from that Lance kid. Dang, poor Landry!

Anonymous said...

Re the Coach's speech, by the way, I copied it word for word as it was on the screener NBC sent out last week... maybe they cut it for air.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you on the Landry plot getting shortchanged in the latter half of the episode, especially so Tyra and Lyla could ride home together, which was somewhat out of the blue. Did Landry have to drive Grandma and the Other Collettes back by himself?

Still, despite all that, I did love the episode, and the season as a whole. Even the victory didn't bother me, because I thought it would have worked either way and didn't know if they would have let them win it until the moment it happened.

Also, I must have missed it: when did Tyra kiss Landry on the cheek? Last I saw they were standing next to each other in the parade.


Alan Sepinwall said...

Also, I must have missed it: when did Tyra kiss Landry on the cheek? Last I saw they were standing next to each other in the parade.

She kisses him during the game, after Mama Collette's comments about the amount of chocolate Landry had in the car makes Tyra finally realize he intended this trip as a date. (Which you would think she would already get, given him opening his heart to her last week, but teenagers are stupid, so I'll give the show this one.)

Does this mean that NBC will rerun the whole series over the summer?

Only if it's been renewed -- and maybe not even then. A show with ratings this low in originals is gonna tank in repeats.

Could the show's performance at the Emmy's be part of the network's hedge-betting over renewal?

No, because A)Emmy nominations come out well after the decision has to be made, and B)Arrested Development and other shows have recently proven that Emmy recognition means somewhere between jack and squat in terms of a ratings bump.

What about the DVD?

Same company, different divisions. NBC the network doesn't make any profits off the DVD, so that's not a factor -- yet. I imagine we're still a few years away from these mega-conglomerates figuring out how to make the money flow more smoothly between sectors so Peter and Paul both get what's coming to them while maximizing profits. We're just not there yet.

Alan Sepinwall said...

She kisses him during the game, after Mama Collette's comments about the amount of chocolate Landry had in the car makes Tyra finally realize he intended this trip as a date.

And, I should add, it is 100% a pity kiss, and Landry 100% doesn't get that. That's the worst part, that Tyra meant well with the gesture and is only going to hurt him more because of it. Again, teenagers is stupid.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't quite figure out why the victory felt like a disappointment, but your comment about a loss turning Coach into a scapegoat gave it a new spin for me. I'm still on the fence, but I'm somewhat glad that his inevitable choice to remain in Dillon had more factors than simply him wanting to stay with his team and family.

One moment I especially loved was Coach's face from the moment Tami first says she's pregnant. She's sputtering through her nerves, but he can't hold back his face-splitting grin. These two are utterly magnificent together, and one of FNL's greatest accomplishments is creating such a fascinating relationship between two people who've been married nearly twenty years and still love each other passionately. Who says that the drama automatically stops once the couple gets together?

Anonymous said...

soooo great... does anyone know who sang the song in the final few minutes at the parade? such a great song......

Anonymous said...

I hate to be a skeptic, but does no one think it's odd that Street went from being crippled in the first game to being in a coach role, to the point of leading a slow clap, all in one season?

I have to add "I think we should have sex" to Alan's list.

Anonymous said...

Re the transcript of Coach's halftime speech: The version that aired was pretty much enirely different from the one on the critics' screeners. I kind of liked the first one better, I think.

Anonymous said...

That said, the Coach and Mrs. Coach stuff was just brilliant, as was the Tyra-Landry thread. I don't know if I agree if it was a 100% pity kiss. Maybe 90%, but I think Tyra realized just how decent a guy Landry had been to her, something that she's not had much of in her life.

Anonymous said...

To the anonymous poster above: The song was "Devil Town," by Daniel Johnston. It sounded like the Bright Eyes cover, but I could be wrong about that.


I'm not as huge a fan of this show as some of the critics, but I do like it, and I really don't understand why it hasn't done well, EXCEPT for the timeslot issue -- up against _Dancing with the Stars_ AND _American Idol_ at different points this season. Is this really that difficult a show to get into? I don't think the serialized nature is a huge barrier, unlike, say, 24 or Prison Break or The Wire. The main tone of the show is uplifting (unlike harder sells like Freaks and Geeks or The Shield). It has a compelling central marriage (the Taylors), plenty of pretty angsty teens (Lyla, Riggins, Street, Saracen) and a few underdogs (Tyra, Landry, Street, Saracen) to root for. There were come-from-behind football victories every few weeks. Like a good soap (and I don't use the word pejoratively), issues come and go in an episode or two -- a Dad in Iraq, a racist coach, bipolar disorder, steroids, a Dad who's a drunk, a Mother who makes poor dating decisions. The season ended with a Big Game and a surprise pregnancy. Heck, the opening credit sequence has fireworks.

Even if I grant that there's something special about FNL's approach, all of these things are pretty much bread-and-butter television tropes -- just check out the Rockefeller Center Tribute to Fireworks, if you don't believe me. I always thought the show was welcoming to viewers without pandering to them. If it had aired in a better slot, or maybe premiered over the summer in a sleeper timeslot somewhere, don't you think it would have thrived?


Anonymous said...

God. .. this show has me so completely that I didn't even NOTICE the slow clap. Of course, I was more or less in tears from the credits on.

I agree that Coach and Mrs. Coach on the balcony was absolutely sublime. As was the brief moment when Tami and Eric embrace, lean into one another, sway. The camera cuts to Tami's bare foot on top of Eric's.

Matt's closed, steely face *killed* me.

More indelible moments from the perfect season one:

-- From the second episode: The whole "Devil Town" montage of the rally girls presenting baked goods ... especially the unnamed, smiling Panther biting into a sugar cookie and a probably already drunk Riggins getting a brown-bagged six pack, his "thank you," and the girl's awed reaction.
-- Eric and Julie's ping pong match.
-- Billy and Tim share a sandwich and beer. The frozen peas are for Tim's eye.
--"... No, sir. My eyes were open. My eyes were wide open." "That's what I thought."

Anonymous said...

She kisses him during the game, after Mama Collette's comments about the amount of chocolate Landry had in the car makes Tyra finally realize he intended this trip as a date.

I've already deleted this episode from the DVR, but I have zero recollection of this. May this be another thing from the screener that didn't make it to air?

Anonymous said...

The reason them winning the game worked for me was because it was exactly what I didn't expect. I read the book. I saw the movie. And in both (spoiler!) the team loses, so I expected the show to do the same thing. I was ecstatic when they gave the Panthers a victory.

I can't say anything about this show that hasn't already been said. It's as close to perfect as TV gets.

Anonymous said...

I haven't watched the episode yet, so my comments here may have absolutely no validity, but I think the team winning state works out much better for the series than them losing, not only because it gives the series a semblance of a happy ending if this is the only season, but that it sets up an interesting situation for next season if the show is renewed.

Next season the Panthers are going to be the favorites and everyone other team in the state will be coming after them; by creating this scenario, the season is allowed to explore in each character the ramifications of success. We've already spent an entire season examining the underdog role and that was completely captivating, but to do that over again, as we would have had the Panthers lost, would simply be to rehash old thematic concerns. I think the way this season concluded leads the overall story in just as new and exciting a direction as the beginning of the first season did.

Anonymous said...

I just re-watched the second half of the show on my TiVo and it appears there was much editing between the screener version and the aired version.

As some above have said, coaches speech had changed - but I can also confirm that Tyra did not kiss Landry at all at the game. Unless something happened in the car (I only rechecked from the game on) that was a change as well.

As an aside, if you listen to Coach Taylor's speech again - the one that aired - it may to be speaking out about the show itself in reference to its unknown renewal status, like Arrested Development did.

The aired speech talked about how even though most people have given up on us, there are a few people out there that still believe - and that's what you're doing this for - the people that still believe.

His warning at the end that you shouldn't change just because they have given up and you should go out there and do it for those who still believe seems - at least to me - to be an answer to how the show reacts to network attempts to change it.

If Coach was speaking for the creators and writers at during that speech, it would appear that even if they "lose" (get canceled) which eventually happens to everyone, its more important that they go out and do it for those who believe in them and do it right for themselves.

I'd agree. I'd rather see the show go out on a great note than become watered down as time goes on (the Homicide analogy was perfect as I am currently re-watching the entire series with my girlfriend who has never seen it before - I was stunned to realize that the series was less than half over before we got to the point where I thought it began petering out - after season 3.)

Alan Sepinwall said...

As some above have said, coaches speech had changed - but I can also confirm that Tyra did not kiss Landry at all at the game. Unless something happened in the car (I only rechecked from the game on) that was a change as well.

No, she kissed him at the game, and it's gone now. Grrr... one of the best scenes in the episode, cut. This is what I mean about overstuffed. I would have sacrificed every second of Riggins and the MILF, for instance, for that scene.

Alan Sepinwall said...

And it's not even one of the deleted scenes at, probably because it got cut at the last second.

Kerry said...

More perfect moments: Not just the scene where Billy gives Tim half his sandwich and the peas after Jason hits him, but all their interactions in "Upping The Ante"--the fight especially. Mama Smash telling her son that his dad cheated on her, hence her ambivalence about his death. The field with the cows.

Unknown said...

I agree with will be much more interesting to watch them during what should be a difficult second season trying to repeat as champs. If they had lost the game, next season's football arc would essentially be the same as this one -- trying to win state. Now that they have, I think it gives them much more room to play with. Not to mention Smash's looming shoulder injury, his recruitment...will Saracen want more of the spotlight? Will Riggins? Will Mac be pissed that Coach stays after he thought the job was FINALLY his since Taylor was supposed to go to TMU? Lots to work with here...let's just hope we get to see it.

Speaking of things I want to see, I hope we also get to see Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton holding Emmys at the end of the summer. As much as I like all the football stuff, and Tyra, and the funny moments, and Tyra, and Landry at the strip club, and Tyra...the only reason I kept coming back week after week (and doing battle with NBC's stubborn on-line player) was to see what magic Chandler and Britton would spin in that week's episode.

So here's hoping NBC gives it another shot. But if not, thanks to everyone at FNL for one helluva of an enjoyable season!

Anonymous said...

I thought the speech that aired was actually a lot better than the speech that was in the screener. It did a great job of tying the non-team characters into the game and reminding us of how critical characters like Tami and Smash's mom are to the success of the team.

Old Man Snap said...

When Sarecan stood up after Coach's banquet speech last night, I thought he had completed his transformation into confident leader and was on his way to the podium.

But then he walked out.

Powerful stuff.

And anything Mrs. Coach and Coach is worth the price of admission. That entire balcony scene was fantastic.

The first half captured, exactly, what it's like to show up for the big game and get your head handed to you on a platter. Every reaction was spot on, and looking back at Coach's speech, the halftime shots were gut-wrenching.

None of those folks deserved an ass-whoopin'. And that, in the end, justifies the victory.

(I thought/hoped/didn't hope Smash would be tackled at the one -- like the Rams-Titans Super Bowl in 2000).

Anonymous said...

I think having the Panthers win state is way more realistic than Tyra getting together with Landry, at least in this stage of the game. And I agree with Alap as well.

Another favorite moment - Matt and Julie exchanging "I love you's" and Julie exiting the car with a smile on her face, and seeing her face change as she approaches her house and her parents' wrath.

Chris Littmann said...

I'm 100 percent with you that the potential cancellation seemed to drive where the story went, wanting to wrap things up nicely for the loyal fans.

Had coach not been outed as being on the move, I believe a loss would've set up the story much better for next season. I think even the way it played out, a loss would've set it up better, but I'm relatively ambivalent about the outcome of the game, so long as the show is renewed.

By the way, for as much as I've sort of gagged about a lot of Lyla's on-screen moments, how great was her move to buy a used car from another dealership?

Anonymous said...

I have that same cautious optimism that you seem to be showing, primarily coming off the Joan of Arcadia cancellation scenario. It was a perfect first season of television, but listening to Pete Berg on Fresh Aire, I'd really like to see what he and Jason Katims have up their sleeves.

I also really enjoy the ensemble. I'm sure they will go off to do more great things, but I really need a few more seasons of Connie and Kyle--more of the kids developing, etc.

And my moment I'd like to add would be Jason/Lyla and Tim at the lake...actually most of that episode with Jason finally calling Tim on the carpet for not showing up and then figuring out why Tim might have been staying away.

Anonymous said...

Clearly, there are only two possible outcomes to the game, and I suppose for that reason, both are a bit cliched in sports movies and shows. Someone else pointed out already that the Panthers lose in both the book and the movie, why repeat it here?

Also, I disagree that there was no character arc in Dillon's comeback. It was Saracen who suggested the final play and argued for in it the face of opposition by the coaches. The same guy we were laughing about last week having to email in the plays that the coaches called. I don't have the encyclopedic memory some here do when it comes to prior episodes of TV shows, but I don't remember that happening before.

Anonymous said...

Hey all, the original version of Coach Taylor's speech (the version that I transcribed on my site) is available for your viewing pleasure here:

Anonymous said...

sorry for the glitch, I think the URL I was trying to post was too long.


D. Bones said...

One virtually perfect season is better than hanging on next year only to pick over all the new pock-marks left from bean-counter tampering.

I was hoping against hope the game wouldn't turn out as obvious as it seemed destined to. If I had never seen a single episode of this show or the original movie, I would have dismissed this as your standard, paint-by-numbers inspirational sports flick. Not every game this year played out this way (though it seems like it in retrospect). The action on the field usually mirrored some other story arc.

The team didn't need to lose for me to buy into it, but the halftime speech prepared us and the team for a more resonant lesson. Something that would not have been nearly so triumphant, but that would have forced these boys to respect themselves -- and their coach -- in a far more meaningful way.

But that SLOW CLAP? I almost turned off the TV right then. It's beyond a cliche. It never happens in real life. It's a pathetic, hack-writer's crutch to elicit emotion. Alan, I can't believe you praised the show for this. In a season filled with pitch-perfect moments, this one made my ears bleed.

I also wonder how Saracen's grandma has been basically functional since his dad left town. Would he really put her on a bus by herself? She could wind up in Piscataway.

As usual, I loved many of the small moments. Arriving at Texas Stadium, Landry's Crucifictorious T-shirt, Voodoo's swagger, Connie Britton's bare feet, pregnancy shock and joy, Buddy's state championship game car deal, Lyla and Tyra's reluctant truce, the mix of celebration and pride and awkwardness of the cast during the parade.

Much more good than bad. But I'm not convinced they'll have the freedom to produce another brilliant season nobody watches.

Alan Sepinwall said...

What can I say? I've always been a sucker for the slow clap, going back at least to the end of "Lucas." I realize it's cheap and long past its sell-by date, but it always gets me. (About the only redeemable part of "Not Another Teen Movie" is the bit where Melissa Joan Hart, I think, randomly shows up to explain the rules of when you should and should not do the slow clap.)

AndyW said...

Way overstuffed, but some wonderful moments.
The screener NBC sent me didn't have the kiss. What's up with that?

I'm OK with the Panthers winning state, but I hated the comeback from 26-0. 17-0 would be the correct, inspiring halftime comeback, because then the Panthers could score four times and win, but VooDoo and Co. could still score once more (for a final score of 28-24), which is way more realistic and provides late-game tension.

Is it just me, 'cause this is the first time I realized Smash was a junior. Who else is an underclassman, besides Saracen?

Loved Lyla's car breaking down. Even Buddy gets to be right once in a while.

Landry got hosed out of all the good scenes in the second half.

I thought the comment about Smash's shoulder injury was astute, but I hope they don't Street him if the show returns. The football factory recruitment subplot has more dramatic potential than re-doing the dashed dreams of an injured player storyline.

I'm going to buy the DVD set when it comes out just so, when I someday have kids, I can hit "play" instead of having the sex talk with them.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Is it just me, 'cause this is the first time I realized Smash was a junior. Who else is an underclassman, besides Saracen?

Here's where I imagine the writers are going to have to do some finessing if the show returns. We know Street was a senior, as he was already dealing with committing to a college in the pilot, and there was a mention of Taylor getting his shot as head coach for Street's final high school season. Presumably, that would make Riggins and Lyla seniors, too, since they had been best friends/boyfriend+girlfriend going back forever, but I suppose the show could cheat and say Tim was held back one year or Lyla fell for an older guy. Tyra is presumably as old as the other three, but Tami's guidance counselor talks with her seemed to suggest Tyra had more than a semester to turn around her academic performance.

I don't know. If the producers are feeling really audacious, they could have the entire second season -- or what we get to see of it -- take place over the second semester of the same school year. You'd still have spring practice and other rituals, but it would free them from having to graduate too many characters too soon.

I doubt they go that route, though. Just so long as it's not one of those 90210 things where all the characters but one repeat their junior year and nobody notices.

Abbie said...

If the producers are feeling really audacious, they could have the entire second season -- or what we get to see of it -- take place over the second semester of the same school year.

I love this idea. I mean, there were shows aplenty where there was no football game to play, so why not? And you can always have player interaction in the weight room, or see what the hell it is that Coach does during the spring semester.

If the show does get renewed, they would not just be skipping the summer, as in other shows, but eight or nine months. And these are teenagers- that's an awful lot of time in the life of a teenager.

For instance, we'd skip any and all parts of Tami's pregnancy. She'd have already had the baby.

Anonymous said...

I recall someone associated with FNL saying that -- that the second season of the show would concern the off-season. I can't find it on any of my tapes though, so I will need to double check that.

I personally think it's a great idea, esp if NBC wants to sell it as a non-sports show next year.

Unknown said...

Not to overdo the whole "slow clap" angle, but my take on it is this...

The shows exists in a what is basically a real world, true-to-life scenario. Even though there may not be a 'Dillon,' everything else about the show feels as true to life as they can make it within the confines of network TV.

So...for these kids, living in essentially our present, the slow clap is meaningful and heartfelt. As someone growing up in the 80s, it was a legit moment, that in the 90s turned into irony/sarcasm, that has wound its way back around again. So the kids on the team don't know the history of the "slow clap" -- and are probably too young to have seen Not Another Teen Movie when it came out, since they would have been in elementary school during the glut of teen movies 6-7 years they wouldn't even necessarily know what "the slow clap" was -- they were just saluting their coach.

Now the writers on the show, most of whom are probably 30+, certainly know the history of the slow clap, and the risk they were taking by putting it in -- BUT they also knew that it was right for the show, and the world of the show, not how it would be regarded in any meta-sense -- so they put it in, trusting the kids would pull it off. And they were right...

Anonymous said...

I'm pretty sure Adrienne Palicki said somewhere on that they'd skip ahead to next season but I'm hoping they change their minds.

Anonymous said...

For's take on this problem, from their April Fool's "Television City Chronicle" newspaper:

For One Texas School, An Endless Football Season

(And go back to the Sports category to find a Bay City Blues story, for God's sake.)

Anonymous said...

And please don't pelt me with food and garbage if you think I'm history's worst monster for second-guessing the desirability of a second season.

I won't pelt you as I have the exact same fears. In the end though I do want it renewed and will hope that if it is there is little network interference-ha!

Sandi K. Solow said...

Wow - an impressive number of comments here! That's a testament to the passion folks have for this show. I've never been attached to a show in jeopardy of being canceled before, so I am in uncharted personal territory here. I love Alan's idea of them covering the spring semester in the series' second season. In some parts of the country (like SEC football states), spring football is bigger than basketball. This would be a way for them to introduce new characters who have moved to the football hotbed of Dillon to get a scholarship and fight for a starting spot.

Anonymous said...

I don't know why everyone's worried about creative slippage in season two. I mean, just because Saracen and Landry are going to team up to become crime scene detectives, and and just because the writers are going to import an adorable tyke named Oliver to act as comic relief in the Riggins household, what's there to worry about?

Oh, and there will be madcap hi-jinks at the all girl car wash that Tyra and Lyla open.

I kid.

Anonymous said...

Okay, a random mistake that my husband (who loves the show as much as I do) insists I share with my fellow FNL-afficionados, the fantastic hotel room scene on the balcony was actually overlooking Austin and not Dallas, where the game took place.

Anonymous said...

So I finally managed to watch this episode. I am a bit irritated now as the last confrontation between Eric and Tami had an open ending. We aren´t supposed to know where Eric and his family are going to end up.

Now that I´ve seen NBC´s official deleted scenes section, it´s very clear that Eric does go to TMU on his own with the women staying in Dillon. I´d like to know if we are supposed to see the deleted scenes as scenes which got cut due to length problems or if they decided to cut it out because they may want to have different options for the second season. It would however explain why Matt was so happy at the it just me?

Anonymous said...

I am a season-long FNL fan who discovered this blog only after the final episode. I love the passion and the intelligence of the commentary here.

I am curious about a number of things about the show and wanted to pose at least one to the group. What do you make of the choice to use Bright Eyes's "Devil Town" to accompany the victory parade?

The show is clearly not a love letter to small town Texas, but I have generally taken its obvious affection for its central characters (who are generally of small town Texas culture and by and large not critical of it) to signal a certain amount of respect.

While there's some ambiguity in the song's lyrics, you'd have a hard time convincing me that the parade scene with that song as background is consistent with that respect. What do you folks make of that?

Anonymous said...

Every moment between Coach Taylor and Street are automatically my favourite moments. The end scene of the pilot, the hospital visit in episode 2, the scene where they were both in wheelchairs, the scene where Coach talks to Jason about his engagement etc.
Their relationship is probably my favourite thing about the show. It's telling when Jason shouts at Lyla in Mudbowl that the first thing he mentions losing is the Coach. They have a very real father/son bond.