Friday, January 04, 2008

FNL: Close quarters

Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" coming up just as soon as I ask my wife for some lasagna...

First, I'm especially grateful to NBC PR for sending out a screener of tonight's episode, since I got to watch it before tuning into NBC last night and getting several promos that heavily featured the climactic misunderstanding 'twixt Coach and Riggins. Not that it was that stunning -- things were going so well for Riggins that you knew something bad would happen to ruin it -- but I'm starting to believe that the single greatest advantage of illegal downloading is being able to avoid spoiler-filled ads for future shows.

I'm glad to have the show back, and that they started production so early this season that they have more episodes left than most. I don't know that the show's ever going to get back to the creative heights of season one -- here, even with the manslaughter arc over and done with (sort of), there were a number of storytelling choices I found odd -- but at this moment in time, even slightly overcooked "Friday Night Lights" is like a feast for a starving man.

The tornado was pretty quite artery-clogging in its cheese factor (no doubt a sacrifice at the altar of the Promotable Moment), but at least we were done with it quickly, its primary purpose to set up one of our two uncomfortable living situations for the episode with the Laribee team moving into Dillon for a few weeks. Contrived though that situation was, the pressure cooker tension between the two teams -- one run by our heroic disciplinarian, the other by an overcompensating hothead eager to cause trouble -- created some nice dramatic moments. Even the more football-focused first season didn't deal too much with how ugly high school athletic rivalries can be (the only time they touched on it was in the racism two-parter), and for the first time in a long time, the football scenes felt more than obligatory. Football stories are good. Not only is football what the show is about, but it forces large numbers of characters together in the same plot, as opposed to going off in their own isolated twos and threes. This is a show about a community, or a series of interlocking communities, and all of them revolve around the team. If it took a bad CGI tornado to make the team important again, so be it.

(Plus, a point was finally given to the Stereotypical Lesbian Soccer Coach scene from a few weeks back, as Eric's decision to give her the bigger locker room made things worse here.)

Our other uncomfortable living situation was over at the Taylor house, which was already overcrowded with Shelly in residence, let alone Riggins. As Tami said, bringing Tim into that household was like putting gasoline next to a lit match -- just not in the way she meant. Sure, Julie is attracted to him -- having already crossed the "dating football players" threshhold and now in the standard bad boys phase, he's pretty much her ideal male -- but Tim, for all his epic self-destructiveness, knows not to cross that boundary, even if Coach doesn't know he knows. Rather, Tim's presence -- and his ability to once again ignite the hormones of a woman of a certain age -- brought the running conflicts between Tami and Shelly to the surface. "It's no wonder you're single" is pretty much the worst possible thing that a married person could say to an unattached, lonely sibling, but that moment felt so real. Mrs. Coach, much as we all revere her, is as human as everyone else on this show, and she's going to have moments when her temper gets the best of her and she says and does the wrong thing

The usual stellar work by Connie Britton, and by Jessyln Gilsig -- and by Taylor Kitsch, who became immeasurably more interesting as an actor once the writers realized last season to give him the minimum amount of dialogue possible. (Oddly, that's how the "Animal House" writers realized they needed to treat Belushi after a few weeks of filming.) It's not that he can't deliver dialogue, but that the mythic brooding quality of Riggins works best the less he says to anyone.

A great talker -- if not a great salesman -- is Brad Leland as Buddy Garrity, who played the hell out of Buddy's reaction to the news about his wife and the tree hugger, and especially the hurt little boy face upon realizing that he wasn't going to win her back with his sales pitch. On the other hand, that was an exceptionally weak pitch from the guy who's allegedly the Texas Car Salesman of the Year five years running. "You must forgive me" is beyond the hard sell; it's the no sell. (Which isn't to say it was a badly-written scene; I can easily buy Buddy being too blinded by ego to think he had to put more than a minimum of effort into winning Pam back.)

Finally, we have Tyra and Landry, who got a perfectly fine John Hughes type plotline with one rather large problem: it seems to be taking place in a universe in which Landry never killed a guy and they never conspired to dump the body. I know Landry makes a brief reference early on to having put that unpleasantness behind them, but none of what comes afterward -- none of what's said, or the feelings on either side, or the tone, or any of it -- is remotely informed by this great traumatic event they went through together. You could have inserted most of their scenes into an imaginary episode right before the season one finale with very minimal changes.

Now, as somebody who's been very vocal about the murder story being the dumbest thing this show has ever done, I suppose I should be grateful that the show is acting like it didn't happen, is taking steps to restore Tyra and Landry to the characters they were before the season began. But you can't unring this particular bell. It happened. They spent a whole lot of time on it, and it's the kind of thing that should both change both these people and inform all their interactions going forward, and there was absolutely none of that here -- just Jesse Plemons doing his best impression of Jon Cryer circa Duckie.

Short of permanently separating the two characters (and the actors who play so well off each other) or banishing them from the show outright, I don't know what the solution is. But as annoying as the murder storyline was, it's just as annoying to try to ignore it, you know? And that's precisely why I wish they hadn't done it. Whatever might have been gained in the short term doesn't come close to matching the long term effects that are now being awkwardly swept under the rug.

Still, it's good to have this one back for the next six weeks, and it would be a rare strike benefit if the number of original episodes helps boost viewership enough to ensure its continued survival.

What did everybody else think?


Myles said...

The Landry situation is very intriguing - they've ignored his presence on the football team so much that they can't simply revert to that, and the Landry/Tyra situation is so caught up in the murder plot that to go to it without referencing the event itself felt false. I don't think there's a solution to speak of, but I'm glad that literate and charming Landry at least made an appearance.

While I'm glad to have avoided the previews featuring the climactic misunderstanding (A rare upside to Canadian simulcasting), I felt it was an odd way to end the episode. Considering how much Tim's presence was defined by his ability to shake up the rest of the Taylor family as opposed to himself (See: 5am Ping Pong), for it to suddenly revert to "Poor Tim" without even a glimpse back into the Taylor household felt wrong.

Still, it was nice to see that the concept of neighbourhood (Even when many were disintegrating) allowed the show to return to its football storylines, characters who interacted with other characters, and a general cohesiveness missing from past episodes. Step in the right direction as a whole, at the very least.

Unknown said...

I'm with you that they're really stuck when it comes to Landry and Tyra. It'd be so great to erase the murder, but they can't because it's too big to move past. Yet they seem to be trying to erase it, or at least downplay it. Taken on its own, what did happen with Tyra and Landry was interesting, though, and I appreciated Landry standing up for himself at the end and telling her it didn't make sense. That's actually rare to see on TV, and I appreciated that.

Other than that, this was probably the best episode of season two for me, with Tim's storyline being absolutely phenomenal. I love the character and the actor.

I also have to say that school rivalry was perfect, and it bounced between exciting and hilarious (the GREAT fight scene) and incredibly tense (the even better Coach slams other coach against the wall). I really want to see this play out more next week, as I think it's really the best thing the writers have tried all year. I've missed football as a hub.

Bobman said...

The episode definitely got better as it went - I legitimately laughed out loud at the bad-CG tornado, but as you say it was just a setup and worked well as such.

The biggest thing I took away from this episode is how well this show makes you root for and sympathize with very flawed characters. Buddy - horribly flawed, but sympathetic. Riggins - a drunk jock, but a redeemable one. Tyra - doesn't deserve someone like Landry but they work so well you root for them anyway.

I actually have a continuity question: Buddy talks to Eric like they've known each other forever - even referring to "remember when I met my wife" - but didn't Season 1 begin with the Taylors moving into town? Were they returning? Am I just completely mistaken?

Oh, and finally - I know it was kind of cliche, but Coach Taylor finally snapping at rival coach was a great "pump your hand in the air even though you're watching by yourself" moment.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Kyle Chandler had a bunch of superb moments, both the funny (his horrified reaction to Buddy talking about his marriage) and the dramatic (body slamming the Laribee coach).

As for Coach's living situation, the pilot established that he was new as head coach, but not new to the town. He had coached Street since Pee Wee. However, a later episode around the time Eric was considering the TMU job got hinky with the timeline, since Julie complained that they had moved around a lot during his career.

So the short answer is, I don't know.

Anonymous said...

One quibble, Alan: Do we know that the "Stereotypical Lesbian Soccer Coach" is actually a lesbian or are we supposed to infer that because she's, gasp, a woman in sports?

I quite liked this episode, but I haven't been overly critical of this season so far because it's just so much better than most of the other TV I watch, even with ill-advised plotlines. I was hoping Landry might burst out with "I killed someone for you!" during his scene with Tyra, but alas, no such dramatics. I'm thinking that he might boil over in a less perfect-boyfriend way sometime soon, though. I can definitely understand where Tyra's coming from, as well. After what she's been through, I can imagine she wants a less intense relationship for now.

Oh, Tim. He's been dumped on so hard this season. And Julie has, too, actually - she seems to have been the catalyst for a lot of "interesting" things for others, like Matt's (gross) relationship with Carlotta and now, perhaps Tim's reconciliation with Billy.

Brad Leland - still fantastic. Loved the Dream Team of Landry, Matt, Tim, Smash and Santiago in the cafeteria scene. And I want more Jason, as always.

Myles said...

I kind of took the timeline issues as Buddy's delusional understanding of how close he is with Taylor as opposed to some sort of actual fact. While it did seem like Chandler was nodding in response, it felt more like a "Please change the subject based on this nod of agreement" than any sort of knowing statement. However, it was walking that fine line, and I'd certainly be curious to see if it was a bit of a slip or not.

...actually, not that curious really, now that I think about it. With the Writers' Strike, though, I think I'm starved for discussion.

Anonymous said...

I guess I'll have to dissent a bit on this one. I found it to be a roller coaster ride between the good scenes and the cheesy and predictable. We started out on a real low note. My wife, who has refused to watch the show ever since the murder, called out "Riggins and the daughter are going out in the storm" seconds into the show just after the storm warning came across the TV. It did get better with the rival team, but it sure didn't stay there. We couldn't see the Buddy speech coming a mile off? And how fast can you divorce and remarry in Texas anyway? Somehow, I suspect it's longer than California where the writers live. Tyra would treat Landry that way after what he did? Didn't we do Riggins/older woman thing already? And a misunderstanding? Really? We're really doing that. Or did I accidentally switch channels to a Three's Company rerun? Ugh.

Bottom line, I liked pretty much everything about the clashes with the rival team, and as always, there were plenty of nice small moments. But I think those small moments needed a better narrative to tie them together.

Anonymous said...

Great post as usual. One minor thing-

"Even the more football-focused first season didn't deal too much with how ugly high school athletic rivalries can be (the only time they touched on it was in the racism two-parter)"

There was actually an episodelong storyline that involved escalating pranks between the Panthers and another team. It was in "Who's Your Daddy." But I agree that the show needs to include more non-obligatory football scenes.

R.A. Porter said...

Not just cheesy CGI on the tornado, but an absolute misunderstanding of what they are. Extreme low pressure in a tornado makes windows blow out, not in on top of the hunky knight protecting the virginal daughter of the King.

That aside, I thought much of the episode worked well other than Landry and Tyra. My big problem with their storyline is how no one else around seems to know Landry killed that guy. There is no way that would be a secret since he confessed. Everyone in Dillon would know; everyone in Laribee would know, too. It should have informed the lead-up to the brawl a whole lot more. To D-bag Chip, this wasn't just a geek trying to talk to the "unnamed goddess" but a homicidal geek.

I really liked the way the Taylor household was disrupted with Riggins' presence and wish they hadn't rushed to get him out so fast. There was a lot of fertile ground around Coach-as-father, Mrs. Coach-as-mother, and the gender imbalance. Rushing that feels a bit haphazard.

I'm a little worried that the writers didn't come into this season with a plan like they clearly did on season 1, but even without a plan this is still a fun, fun ride.

Anonymous said...


A fine summary, as always, and although you made a quick reference to it in the "coming up as soon as" part of your post, I thought you didn't quite give the line about lasagna enough credit. In my opinion, it represented everything I love about this show. Tami is asking Tim and Julie what they want for dinner before the dance, they're trying to explain that they won't be going to the dance, and as Tami is trying to figure out the deeper implications of what all this means, Eric, without picking up on any of this says, "I'll like lasagna." The delivery was so perfect, the written word cannot do it justice.

All the sensationalism -- coaches fighting coaches, tornados tearing apart grocery stores, coaches fighting players -- was overdone, just like so much this season. But that throwaway line of Eric's about dinner made me realize I'll stick with this show to the bitter end, even if Street were to walk again after being injected by shark blood and he and Lyla went off to Notre Dame as 7th-year seniors and got married.

Anonymous said...

Where are the season 1 writers, b/c I sure don't recognize this show.

A tornado and sharing a locker room, cafeteria and practice field with bitter rivals? Come on. What, there isn't a park Larrabee could practice at? And a Y where they could use the weights?

And Three's Company is right. Try to really imagine that scene w/ Rigg and Coach where Coach wouldn't even let him say a single word in his defense. I think that's impossible to imagine.

Finally, I think you might have misheard. It's not that the girls soccer team has the "bigger" lockerroom, it's the "visitors" locker room they have.

Anonymous said...

I've been ferociously critical of this show all season, but I guess I loved this one a lot more than everyone else here because I felt like I was finally watching the show I fell in love with last year. No, it definitely was not perfect--the Laribee story is largely by-the-numbers and yada yada yada--but this was much better than anything on the whole we've gotten this season.

I'm still furious about the murder story, and I think it says a LOT about JUST what a mistake it was that they've taken Tyra and Landry right back where they were in the season premiere, but you know what, I hated that diversion SO much that I am willing to forget it all ever happened if it means they'll leave that couple back on course and never mention the rapist again.

Thank god someone finally remembered Jessalyn Gilsig was sitting around doing nothing.

Can Brad Leland get an Emmy already?? See, I felt the opposite during his last play for his wife's heart. That wasn't a pitch at all. I think he got to the door and his emotions all overcame him and he just spilled out what was really in his heart, one of those situations where we know what we want to say and every word just leaves as soon as we open our mouths. And I agree that I think he was just borderline delusional during the laundry scene and it was never intended for us to think Eric had suddenly been there all along. Buddy was clearly a little beside himself, plus we know he thinks he and Eric are MUCH closer friends than they really are. Though I love that they were just standing around gossiping in the laundromat in the middle of the night.

Team rivalry was also explored in "State" last year, and in my favorite ep, "Full Hearts," when Smash had to go back and play his old team.

"We're playin' ping-pong, honey!" gets my line of the night.

And tsk, Alan. Promos never ruin anything for me anymore because I never watch anything live. DVR + FF makes for a tidy viewing life.

jcpbmg said...

Another great throw-away moment (that I'm surprised no one mentioned) is Tyra slamming the Napolean Dynamite kid into a glass window during the fight.

Also with Matt and Carlota being so public about their relationship, how is no one talking about how inappropriate it is?

Bobman said...

Another great throw-away moment (that I'm surprised no one mentioned) is Tyra slamming the Napolean Dynamite kid into a glass window during the fight.

That was awesome, though it should be no surprise - Tyra was always a bit scrappy.

Also with Matt and Carlota being so public about their relationship, how is no one talking about how inappropriate it is?

Do you mean no one in the real world or in the FNL world? I'm guessing anything Matt does in the world of the show is promptly ignored because he is QB1 and can get away with pretty much anything.

Matt said...

Also, this had to be a pretty hugely expensive episode to do for at least three reasons:

1. Cheesy though the tornado effects were, those still don't come cheap.
2. Massive extras usage, and not just easy pickup footage like "lots of people watching the game" but scenes like the dance and the fight which required a lot of people and some coordination, particularly the fight scene. (Admittedly, with where they film, they probably can get cheap extras, but still.)
3. Music rights. "Crank That (Souljah Boy)" probably doesn't come cheap.

Don Porges said...

That business about Eric not letting Riggins answer him, although annoying, is perfectly in character, and is seen earlier during one of the locker-room scenes.

And did the other coach have to be such an ass?

Anonymous said...

Great post, Alan. I am loving all the Tim Riggins love displayed both here and over at TWoP. He's a great, compelling character, and not just because he makes every female character melt.

I was sorely disappointed in the cheesy sensationalism and predicatability of this episode, especially at the awful, awful ending, which really pissed me off. As someone else said, another Big! Misunderstanding! Moment! again? Really??

But yeah, the little moments... Tim and the baby, KC's "lasagna" line delivery, the ping-pong, the handshake between Tim and Coach... the show's still got me.

Anonymous said...

It didn't bother me that Eric wouldn't let Tim defend himself at the end. Julie is Eric's little girl, and under the circumstances, I couldn't blame him for reacting emotionally. However, we've already had a plot arc this season where Tim was in Eric's doghouse and didn't entirely deserve it. (It always drove me crazy that Jason never went to Eric and said, "Hey, Tim was in Mexico helping me." Maybe it wouldn't have gotten Tim off the hook completely, but it should at least have been mitigating.) Here's hoping that Julie remembers what happened and explains it to her father. I really like the coach-father/player-son interaction between Eric and Tim.

Anonymous said...

I'm starting to wonder why Shelly is still even there anymore. I love Mrs. Coach as much as anyone, but all Tammi ever does is insult, degrade and basically just dump on Shelly who is there basically being a good sister and helping Tammi out. I just hate it when Tammi goes off on one of her tirades against Shelly so I was glad that she finally stood up for herself and basically said "And yet I'm the one you asked to take care your precious baby".

Loved every minute of the fight in the cafeteria and the Landry comments leading up to it.

I actually don't really mind if they continue to ignore the "bad thing" as long as we get more Landry/Tyra scenes.

I do wish they would find and interesting story line for Lyla.

Anonymous said...

The Rebel-moves-in-with-the-nice-family thing was just starting to become something better than Fonzie over the garage, when they went with that hackneyed ending. Riggins should've left Julie to clean up her puke and gone out to the garage.

Did Tyra tell Julie that Landry's dad scared her off?

Anonymous said...

Shelly is there b/c she gets free room & board while trying to switch careers. She's studying for the real estate exam...and I thought the idea was that she doesn't have her life together as much as her older sister. I get why she stays.

Tami needs her to save on daycare (or perhaps can't find suitable daycare) and Shelly needs a place to crash since she doesn't seem to be otherwise employed.

The tornado did not bother me, because it was really minor. It barely did any damage, there wasn't really any worry or talk about the tornado in their town. If they wanted to be cheesy, they would have done the "Desperate Housewives" tornado and trapped Tim & Julie in the store's basement or something with nothing more than a mattress and a box of condoms. So I thought they did a great job of tossing these two different kids together and making them start some kind of odd relationship.

I think Tyra and Landry aren't over by a long shot. I see why the murder thing was order for Tyra to even consider sleeping with Landry, she needed to be shaken up. Badly. Maybe it was too over the top for most, but I was okay with it. Also, I don't think that story has played out all the way.

By the way, the only way the whole town would know about Landry's involvement would be if he said something. His dad's a cop, so the police department will keep it quiet. He's a minor, so there is no public-for-the-press-to-read report. And Tyra has been extremely closed-mouthed about it.

This was a GREAT episode! And once again, they pulled the rug out from under me by moving Tim out under less-than-kind circumstances. All the ladies sigh at 'poor Tim' being misunderstood once again. The good guy with the bad boy reputation.

Anonymous said...

The Rebel-moves-in-with-the-nice-family thing was just starting to become something better than Fonzie over the garage


Anonymous said...

I'm not a father (yet) so I can't comment on how unwilling the coach would be to listen to Riggins' explanation, no matter how loud he got, but just once I want one of these people to stand up for themselves. Tim did nothing wrong for once and I think his character would stand up for himself if he thought it was something worth saving. Then again, he never told the coach why he and Street went to Mexico, so maybe it's just who his is - the non-confrontational confrontational guy.

It's not the same show as season one, and it might not be able to recover, but there's enough good stuff here that I hope someone in the writers' room gets inspired.

olucy said...

I’m probably in the minority, but this ep annoyed me far more than The Murder story arc. Maybe because I try to compartmentalize The Murder as One Big Bad Writing Misjudgement, and just try to tuck it away, and this ep has all kinds of little, wriggly things that get under my skin. Starting with the fact that this used to be a show where people talked to one another. Remember that? That used to be its charm. And now I guess we’re headed for a lot of Big Misunderstandings because they don’t, anymore. Blah.

It saddens me that Tami has become so bitchy and unlikeable this season, although I actually side with her on calling her sister out on her flirtatious behavior with someone who, even Shelly recognizes as “jailbait.” Although what she said to her sister was nasty and I’m glad Shelly gave her they smackdown right back. But seriously, her behavior around Tim is inappropriate and disturbing.

The team rivalry antics were beyond annoying. Maybe guys get into that type of storyline, but I can’t understand why the other team wasn’t kicked out after the first prank or two. I get that that type of behavior is probably tolerated as “boys will be boys” under normal circumstances, but when one school is a guest of another and on their turf I find it hard to believe that a school administration would put up with it. And could the other coach be any more of a stereotyped, two-dimensional jackass? With shoving against the wall? Oh, be still my heart.

But the worst offense was the whole Big Misunderstanding with Riggins and Julie and tossing Riggins out of the house. I understand that Coach is going to protect his little girl, but this is just Ordinary Teen Soap material and not worthy of this show.

Anonymous said...

I disagree. Teen soap material, and Tim would have come to Julie's rescue and made out with her in the car and pine about her in the garage for a week or two.

Teen soap material would have been Shelly throwing herself at Tim and being successful. They would continue some kind of tawdry teen romance in secret for weeks on end.

Teen soap material would have been Tyra dancing on the dancefloor with the jackass from the other school and Landry would be pining away in a dark corner. And then she would flaunt herself in front of Landry every day, sleeping around with different guys to show how much she 'didn't like' him anymore.

No, these characters are still real to me. Not teen soap characters. Watch Gossip Girl and then FNL and tell me what's different.

Anonymous said...

"I understand that Coach is going to protect his little girl, but this is just Ordinary Teen Soap material and not worthy of this show."

I completely agree with you. That kind of ending, in light of how great this show used to be, is insulting. There were several redeeming moments about the episode, but too many disappointing ones as well.

olucy said...

Heh. OK, I’ll just have to take your word for it that they’re not typical soap teens, because I have no intention of watching Gossip Girl. I’ll relabel it “clich├ęd writing.”

I agree these are characters still worth caring about. Despite their sloppy storyline, I still care about what happens to Landry and Tyra. This show excels in small moments. I loved Landy’s referencing West Side Story, even though his analogy was lost on Tyra. Buddy never fails to deliver. I can completely see him as the type of guy who thinks “you’ve got to forgive me” is going to be interpreted as an apology, and it hurt to see him get the news of his wife’s engagement second-hand. Loved Smash’s throwaway “Napoleon Dynamite!”, and him hating the other QB1 who’s full of himself. Ha! I liked Riggins handshake with the Coach and his protecting Julie at the diner. When he’s sober, not much gets past him.

I’m going to agree, however, with the poster who can’t believe that word isn’t out about the murder. I know that cops look after each other, but a secret that big is too hard for people to sit on. It’s just human nature. People get off on knowing something that other people don’t know, and usually they have to let other people know that they know. And a secret that big? It boggles the mind how exposed Landry might have been walking into that squad room. A typical squad room has more than cops in it. There’s clerical people. Average citizens there for one odd thing or another. None of whom live by The Code. It’s just ludicrous. (Even more ludicrous than Landry making the team and scoring a big play with no football background.)

AndyW said...

I'm with olucy - the ratio of eye-rolling scenes to those nice little true-to-life moments was way out of whack. Buddy's storyline is the only one I really like, and his ex-con charge is in danger of ruining that (speaking of which, why wasn't that kid kicking some serious butt in the cafeteria brawl?). And Coach and Tim against the estrogen world was a concept that needed at least a couple more episodes.

AndyW said...

I'm with olucy - the ratio of eye-rolling scenes to those nice little true-to-life moments was way out of whack. Buddy's storyline is the only one I really like, and his ex-con charge is in danger of ruining that (speaking of which, why wasn't that kid kicking some serious butt in the cafeteria brawl?). And Coach and Tim against the estrogen world was a concept that needed at least a couple more episodes.

Anonymous said...

I'm with olucy, andyw, and the others critical here. The big brawl could've led to something interesting if it had different, starker consequences for ex-con Santiago than for the rest of the kids. And Coach finding a surrogate son in Riggins, the one kid he'd probably have chosen last for that role, was an interesting set-up that deserved more time to play out. By forcing a parallel to the silly "rival team suddenly sharing the school" plotline, they seemed content to limit the scenario to one episode and blow it up in a soapy last-minute twist.

And I think I ask this every week, but why do best friends Matt and Landry no longer have any contact with each other? And why hasn't Riggins bothered to seek out his best friend, the increasingly AWOL Jason Street? It just seems like they keep ignoring interesting opportunities, and spend too much time on the weakest aspects of the stories they're telling.

The lasagna line would normally be the kind of small detail we'd praise as part of the larger picture of how great the show is. These days, it's the highlight of an entire episode.

Anonymous said...

Random tidbit: I finally saw Music and Lyrics, a cute romantic comedy about Hugh Grant as a washed up 80s pop star.

And who plays the other half of his ridiculous looking boy band? Scott Porter. So hilarious.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

"The lasagna line would normally be the kind of small detail we'd praise as part of the larger picture of how great the show is. These days, it's the highlight of an entire episode."

Excellent point. This is true about most great shows that slowly devolve over the years (I'm thinking Buffy, Gilmore Girls, 24, BSG)... where episodes that were once jam-packed with 15 great moments are reduced to just 1 or 2. However, those others shows at least had 2 or 3, sometimes even 4, really strong seasons! They didn't start getting mediocre in season 2, and I guess that's what I was hoping for FNL.