Friday, January 25, 2008

FNL: She spikes

Spoilers for "Friday Night Lights" coming up just as soon as I apologize to anyone who may have been offended by my punching them in the face...

There are only three games left in the Dillon football season? Whoza whazza wha?

I've had lots of problems with "FNL" season two, but none moreso than the way the show has completely lost track of the damn team. We've seen, what, six games in 13 episodes? (With Smash playing terribly in almost all of them, which makes his big college recruiting story seem doubly baffling.) And now there are only three more before the playoffs start? And we spend an entire episode with zero football action or practice, but with a subplot devoted to the girls' volleyball team?

I know the company line is that "FNL" isn't really about football, but that's just a lie to lure in the people who would otherwise refuse to watch a show about football -- and who, based on the ratings for season two, aren't going to watch anyway. Season one was absolutely about football, and that's what made it great. It was about how a town defined itself through this team and how the pressure of being that defining element shaped the lives of the coaches, the players and their friends and family. There was plenty of action that took place away from the gridiron, but the season was always there in the background. We were always aware of how the Panthers were doing, how Saracen and Smash and Riggins were playing, how secure Eric's job was, etc.

Football was the foundation on which everything else was built, and now it's become this obligatory thing that the writers feel like they have to bring up from time to time, when they'd rather be spending time on another romance or crime plot.

Think of some of the stories that could have been told this year within the framework of what's been established: How is proud outcast Landry fitting into this celebrity jock subculture? How much heat is Coach getting in and around town for his role in what's been a very troubled post-championship season? How is Street going to shape a life for himself without football still living in this town where everyone knows his tragic story? But they've either been given cursory treatment or ignored entirely in favor of silly, off-mission stuff like manslaughter and Carlotta and stolen drug money.

I'm not saying there needs to be game action every single week, but we need to have a sense that games have been played in between episodes, how the team is doing, how Smash is still playing brilliantly enough to attract all these recruiters, how Matt's playing now that he's the undisputed leader of the team, etc. I complained a while back about how all the characters seemed sealed off from one another in separate little shows. The football team and its season is the show's unifying element. Without it being front and center, you've got... well, you've got "Friday Night Lights" season two.

(Oddly, if NBC was really that insistent on downplaying the football stuff, Katims and company had a built-in way to accomplish that without ignoring the reality of this world: they could have had season two begin not long after season one, covering the spring semester of the school year. There could still be some football content -- spring practices, maybe some early recruitment -- but the game's absence wouldn't have been as glaring, and we also wouldn't have had to skip over major events like the team adjusting to the post-championship glow, Eric's early days at TMU, Smash and Waverly breaking up, etc.)

By making the football such a minor element, it takes away a lot of the power from a story like tonight's Smash plot. Okay, so he's going to miss the final three games of the season. But what does that mean? Are they struggling so much that they won't qualify for the playoffs if they lose two or three of these games? What little game action we've seen suggests the team has almost been winning in spite of Smash; how big a blow is this, really?

That said, Smash's story and Street: car salesman were the highlights of "Humble Pie." Not coincidentally, both had at least a tangential connection to football.

Gaius Charles is often underutilized (he was MIA for the early part of this season), but when called upon -- in this case, in the scene where he has to listen to Mama Smash (Liz Mike, wonderful as always) tell him to take the damn deal, and the one where he comforts his little sister after she gets the prank call -- he delivers. I just think the plot would have been better if we had more context about the season.

Scott Porter's been MIA of late, because I think the writers are at a loss about what to do with Street as Jason himself is. I don't know that having him sell Chevys is the ideal answer for either man or show, but at least it plays off Jason's history with Buddy (who was on his way to being Street's father-in-law once upon a time) and puts him in another place where he has to use his force of will to beat a stacked deck. Plus, Herc is never not funny, and the brief montage of Jason getting dressed for work was another nice reminder of the commitment the show and Porter have given to showing what life in a chair is like.

The rest of the episode? Meh. Tyra as volleyball badass was amusing, but not nearly as amusing as Tyra as Powder Puff badass. (Plus, nowhere is it mentioned that Tami's new coaching job is eating into more time she could be spending with the beautiful baby she feels so guilty about leaving at daycare.) I think I went into a coma at some point in the Lyla/Tim/Logan Huntzberger triangle story. (Also, my review screener had some sound problems, so the line may have been looped in later, but how does Lyla know how much money Tim owes Guy? And how easily can a girl in Dillon -- even the daughter of Buddy Garrity -- toss around three grand?) I got a kick out of "God's little gift to Landry," as Matt described little Jean, but given the way the show is now completely ignoring any emotional fallout from the rapist story, it makes me regret its existence even more. I watch Landry hanging out with Riggins and Smash like they're total BFFs, and I wish we could have spent the first half of the season showing how he got to that point, instead of on stupid melodrama that no longer has any impact on what's happening on the show.

What did everybody else think?


Myles said...

What's funny is that for all of the ignorance to the football stories of season one, they entirely ripped off Smash's emotional arc from the previous racism storyline: initially he takes one for the team, then something stirs up in him, and then he rescinds it and makes a stand. I liked the first season too, but I've got the DVDs for that.

Also, and maybe it's just me, but I was kind of alarmed at how similar Landry's scenario was to Gossip Girl's - Landry as the outcast Dan, Tyra as the alpha female Serena, and June as the far too perfectly aligned in music taste potential mate Vanessa. I liked that we at least got back to Crucifictorious, but you're quite right: it just feels like we skipped 80% of what happened in Dillon and in the heads of these characters.

And maybe they realized it too: six storylines running independent of one another? Overkill.

Anonymous said...

there is absolutely no way that Dillon could make the playoffs. They have lost (at minimum) three games and I think they only lost two games last season.

There was concern that Dillon might not make the playoffs with those two losses last year.

I love this show but is continuity too much to ask for?

Anonymous said...

Off-topic for this post but on-topic for TV fans in general:

Anonymous said...

Yet another flawed episode. Most of the plots felt repetitive, despite the impressive performances. I still love this show but I'm nearing the point where I can no longer use the greatness of season one as a defense for the weaknesses of season two.

I blogged my thoughts on the episode here:

Unknown said...

Honestly, season 2 Okay, not Bionic Woman suck, but Alan has it dead on every week as to why it sucks. I won't be buying the S2 DVD's, nor will I ever recommend that someone watch the show past season one again.


Lyla giving Tim the money? Unbelievable copout. The freaking hybrid car ad? Gag, though at least it fit with the plot and got Jason back on the show for a few minutes. The big climax being a volleyball game? Well, lord knows they tried to make it interesting. I'm amazed anyone was in the stands for a totally losing team, though, even if Tami and Tyra are there.

Yeah, the silly soapy plot crap that has nothing to do with football is...blech. And I'm not even a football fan. I don't know what the hell they were thinking this season.

Anonymous said...

Clearly I'm exaggerating when I say this, but FNL has such an awesome foundation of characters, setting and prime movement (re: season one) that it's not unthinkable that they could keep filming the show during the strike. I mean that it just writes itself so well. Once the actors have their characters down (which they all do so perfectly), they could just follow all of the stories to their logical ends and have seasons and seasons worth of stories to tell.

But, alas, the writers always seem to find new ways to get it wrong.

Tonight I wondered:
1) Why couldn't we do one of the Tyra stories last week (the Landry one being the obvious one) so that she didn't have these two isolated stories going on at once

2) Why can't more people be involved in each others lives? That way the storylines can breathe. Amongst the big mistakes of season two, one that I'm currently annoyed with is the premature breaking up of Saracen & Julie. That pairing brought many characters together (Landry, Tyra, Grandma Saracen and the entire Taylor clan) and didn't feel finished by the end of season one. We could've watched it unravel over the course of the season. Could've seen Eric balance being dad and coach a little longer. Could've had Julie and Matt go through all sorts of stages.

3) If an entire volleyball team stunk to the tune of 0-7, how does bringing one good player (who has never seemingly played before that week) get them to their first win immediately? Wouldn't the rest of the team not be able to compensate? Can't just once a Dillon team lose a close game?

4) Riggins never speaks up. Where did his speech to Lyla come from?

5) I liked the way they handled Lyla telling Logan about her past. I thought it was nuanced and well written. I thought his response was very genuine and telling of his character. However, having many friends have to go through a similar conversation, while his "that must have been hard for you to say" rung true, the kiss right afterwards seemed like a stretch. Logan should need some processing time, right? (And maybe this is different in the South, but in most megachurches, the under-30 crowd doesn't usually get a lot of Sunday morning speaking time)

So ends this weeks patented overlong rant about Fri. Night Lights (formerly known as Friday Night Lights).

R.A. Porter said...

Ugh. I was going to echo everyone else, but what is there really to say? FNL S2 is a cheesy teen soap. FNL S1 was a beautiful, perfectly crafted testament to the potential of television as a medium for fine drama. So very sad.

My two vaguely interesting thoughts on the episode:
- is it just me, or does Logan, with his hair combed for once, look a hell of a lot like Corin Nemec?
- It's bad enough when productions use 8' or 9' basketball rims, but that volleyball net must have been set a good foot low.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't they have got Adrianne Palicki some volleyball training, or at least a body double that knows how to play? Seriously, her spikes were so brutal that it made that storyline even more laughable than it already was.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I don't know how many weeks I need to post "Season 1 was one of the most moving tv/film experiences of my life; Season 2 is terrible." Except that that sentiment is true every week.

By making the football such a minor element, it takes away a lot of the power from a story like tonight's Smash plot.

Actually, the completely unbelievable championship last year (after they lost their best player!) basically ruined the core tension of the show, which was two-fold: can decent man Eric Taylor be a decent man and a successful Dillon coach at the same time; and how can life in this small town be so upside down that the most important thing to anyone is whether a bunch of 17 year olds can recapture the one glorious moment in the town's memory, winning State.

But suddenly in season 2, Dillon is not such a small town. I'm totally confused. It's big enough not only for a megachurch, but now it's big enough for their to be a "pickup [quad] rugby game down at the rec center"? Seriously?

Where does Lyla, a HS senior, come up with $3000?

What in the world is Tim doing pursuing her?

What kind of HS is this where Landry hangs out Riggins whenever he wants?

Tyra as a volleyball prodigy?

Baby Grace, paging Baby Grace.

Okay, some kudos:
1. Smash's scene with his younger sis was moving

2. welcome back explosions in the sky!!!! they went from basically not heard from at all early in the season to all over this ep.

3. As much as I hate the Rigg-Lyla storyline, I liked his speech to her, and the music choice.

4. I really liked christ boy's response to Lyla, but I also thought the subsequent makeout session was unlikely.

5. good roommate scene w/ Street and Herc

6. sad to hear that Jason's down to only a few grand.

Anonymous said...

We have put up with a lot this season. But all of the little things may have added up so far that they may have lost me forever.

First volleyball is rally scoring and not to 15 anymore.

How do these players have so much free time to hang out a volleyball or applebees during daylight hours?

Big-time high school football in Texas yet it seems no ever practices.

One of your star players -a kid who just lived with him- gets the crap kicked out of him and the coach doesn't ask him or notice.

Estranged friends everywhere are all of sudden BFFs again with no explanation.

An episode removed from being overwhelmed with being a mother and have a job-- a husband like Eric tricks his wife into becoming a volleyball coach. What there was no assistant, JV or freshman coach available?

Hey I have 3,000 and don't love you hand it to a meth dealer and then pick a fight with him.

The most belivable thing in the whole episode was Street selling a car to kook who comes in twice a week and never buys.

FNL is dead and I wish it had died after last season.

Anonymous said...

Wow, it's disheartening how much everyone here is disappointed with the show, not that there's not plenty of reason to be. I'm guilty of sticking with shows way too long, and I agree that season 1 of FNL is a masterpiece (if an occasionally flawed one).

On the other hand, I don't think season 2 is "terrible," as someone said, and I'm nowhere near giving up on it. I am disappointed with it, quite a bit in fact, but there's always plenty of stuff I enjoy, even if it doesn't all cohere nearly as well as it did last year. This season has further proven the greatness of the adults of Dillon, from the best actor and actress on TV (I don't watch the Wire...but apart from that) Coach and Tami Taylor to Brad Leland to Mama Smash. In fact, as I think Alan said a couple weeks ago, it's like the Taylors (Julie and Shelly too) are on their own 5-star show. And I'll take any scene of dinner at the Taylors, especially if guests are over.

Yes, the kids are often forgotten about or mishandled (my biggest problem with the season), and the writers seem hell-bent on amping up the (contrived) action (which was handled just fine at the football games last year, thank you very much), but I'm willing to wait it out. There are only 2 more episodes this "season," if I count correctly, and if it is miraculously renewed (strike-willing), I just hope the writers take all the criticism into account. Friday Night Lights remains an enjoyable show (I watched the final 2 Chucks last night, and as much as I like that show, I'll take FNL season 2 to most anything), and I have faith that it can again achieve greatness.

Anonymous said...

THANK YOU for mentioning that the local extension of Season 1 was to show the spring semester. I honestly don't understand why this did not occur to the writers. It would've given storylines time to breathe (Matt/Julie, Tami increasingly pregnant, intro of outcast Landry onto the team, Coach ans Smash respective college recruitment, etc.).

That's one of the smartest things that Shonda did with Grey's Anatomy -- one season did not equal one year in the lives of the characters. FNL would've been a perfect candidate for this, especially because it would've given the teenage characters more time at their respective ages (and delayed any future departure from the show that is inevitable as certain characters graduate). If I remember correctly, Matt was a sophomore last year. If they did the fall/spring semester breakdown, we could've followed him for six seasons (in the fantasy world in which a show like FNL runs that long).

It's sad -- I still watch every week, but I have many friends who have given up on FNL because of the unevenness of this season. I blame the poor ratings not on the show's inability to attract new viewers but also on the loss of its core audience. If/when this show is no more, I'll be crushed to no longer have the brilliance that is Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as part of my week.

K J Gillenwater said...

Lyla sucks all the enjoyment out of the show for me. I really don't care about her or what she does. There is just something about her that makes me not want to like her.

And the fact that Riggins is still hanging on to some weird idea about them being just makes it worse. Because now he is going to be some kind of mopey guy that won't fall for any other girl unless it is for the wrong reasons. And I so want this guy to move on and find someone better.

I like Landry's new girl. She's interesting and makes sense. She might be a little funky, but she has the same interests as Landry and is smart. I'm sorry, but I just don't see a long-term relationship with Tyra going very far. As much as I want Tyra to succeed and figure out that she is worthy of more than being an Applebee's waitress, in some ways I don't. It would be more real to me, if she just let Dylan suck her into this trailer park lifestyle she was born into.

Landry will succeed in life because he is smart (murder sub-plot aside). But Tyra would be the girl that, when Landry comes back for his 10-year high school reunion he finds out she has 2 kids by 2 different men and has gained 40 pounds.

Anonymous said...

The volleyball was a brilliantly devised metaphor for the football. When Mrs Coach gathers her team together during the timeout there’s a shot of Coach looking on - the absence of dialogue in that moment was deafening. Beautiful, small moments like these are still well and truly ingrained in the show. Despite the well-articulated rants here, I still don’t understand why many (though not all) of the commentators have given up looking for those moments. Instead, there seems to be an overwhelming focus on trying to pick holes in a great show using questions that it seems to me the writers actually want the viewers to think about (and that have characteristics similar to many questions that could have been raised during Season 1 or during any show on tv for that matter).

Anonymous said...

Again, it was just too much. Lyla needs to go on a mission, and Tyra go to Riggins for some mutual emotion-free consolation sex. (And why don't the Riggins boys just go to the cops?)

As much as I want Tyra to succeed and figure out that she is worthy of more than being an Applebee's waitress, in some ways I don't. It would be more real to me, if she just let Dylan suck her into this trailer park lifestyle she was born into.

Actually, Tyra would make a hell of a car saleswoman--smart, aggressive, and she could sell men the undercoating.

Unknown said...

The show is definitely not as good as season one, and there are multitudes of problems which you've articulated very well, Alan. I still love to watch it, though, if only to see actors inhabit their characters fully and beautifully - Smash Mama, Scott Porter, and the Taylor clan being among the elite in that respect.

Did anyone else notice how pissed Julie looked during the whole volleyball thing? Is she going to be jealous of Tyra now? I don't think the writers know what to do with her. Where did the inappropriate English teacher go? Is she over Matt? Etc.

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who was confused why the football team's all-star fullback was free to be an assistant coach for the girl's volleyball team? I realize that no one in Dillon practices anymore, but what the hell?

And when did Applebees become a teen hangout? I'll buy Landry taking too-perfect-rocker chick there cause she wanted her sizzling brownie, but then another scene there for Smash, Riggins, Saracen, Landry and Santiago? What about the Alamo Freeze where EVERY SINGLE OTHER SCENE LIKE THAT has taken place?

I wish I had never seen season one, so I could watch all this with fresh eyes. It might be a very good, albeit flawed, season of television. But in comparison to the near-perfect first season, it is hard not to wish the show had been left as it was. Last year, all I could do was praise the show. Now I feel like I need to bury it.

When do we all officially decide the show should have been cancelled after they won state?

Excuse me. I have to go watch "Mud Bowl" for the eighth time...

Anonymous said...

Something I wondering is if the writers are intending to move Tyra and Landry away from each other in a permanent way. I remember reading an interview where Jason Katims said that there's no way these two characters would ever be together without the inclusion of the murder plot. So now since the show seems to want to put that mistake behind them as fast as possible and pretend it never happens I wonder if that includes getting Landry and Tyra away from each other.
I agree with Kristin that I almost want to see a downbeat ending with Tyra. Small towns are filled with people who planned to break away only to realize, for whatever reason, they won't.
That's what I think is so great about Jason's storyline and why FNL can still be a smart show. A lot of other shows would have ended his plot on Jason selling the car. Instead we get that final scene where he goes back to Herc, Jason seems a little disappointed to have sold the car maybe because he used his accident, but also because I think he's starting to realize that is his life now. He's gonna sell cars, go out drinking with Herc, and eventually find a woman who he marries in Dillion.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Am I the only one who was confused why the football team's all-star fullback was free to be an assistant coach for the girl's volleyball team?

This goes back to when Eric let Tim back on the team after the Mexico trip. One of the conditions of his reinstatement is that he has to do all of Eric's new Athletics Director scutwork; in a previous episode, we saw him keeping score at a women's gymnastics meet.

Sandra said...

I love this show; I know it went off track with the Landry/Tyra murder storyline this season, but I still find it very true to life in a small town and high school.
Does anyone else think that Lyla's new Christian boyfriend is going to be too "nice" for her and she will soon get bored with him, paving way for her to reunite with Tim? Girls love a bad boy, and I think she is going to get tired of miniature golf and ice cream!

Anonymous said...

OK, I guess we can theme this week's episode "Channeling One's Anger Constructively vs. Destructively".

The positive, e.g. tyra anger=riggins=winning volleyball or street anger=being taken advantage of=using his 'street' marts to make a sale vs.
Smash not controlling his=suspension

Anyway kind of an odd bit of an odd episode with the usual good acting.

Only thing I found really annoying was the hybrid car commercial tie-in...just seemed even more cheesy then usual for this show.

Anonymous said...

The volleyball sub plot was just an excuse to get Momma Coach in that tight white coach's shirt and Trya in the v-ball uni.

Too many storylines in the last two eps.

A great show in need of a stronger show runner with a full season of episodes more fully thought out. All the characters are there. They are just left wandering around Dillon with no direction.

It's my hope that the strike will give all writers a mental break, or a chance to focus without the pressure of weekly episodes. Of course, I would prefer they were back to work.

Coach, Tami, Riggins, Buddy, Tyra, Smash, Landry are all too good to abandon yet.

R.A. Porter said...

Me, I think Reverend Logan is going to turn out to be a dog. That's just based on his past performances. Matt Czuchry doesn't have a lot of range, but he can switch between nice guy and d-bag in a nanosecond.

And to joe in haddonfield, damn straight! Connie Britton in that tight little tee was the highlight of my evening!

K J Gillenwater said...

I think Christian boy is going to take advantage of the information Lyla shared with him...i.e. she's not a virgin and has some morality issues by sleeping with her boyfriend's best friend. He will take that as license to do whatever he wants because she's 'easy.'

And she will be horrified that even Christian men want to have sex with her and that's all they see when they look at her. Bye-bye new found Christian faith.

What sucks is that when this happens (and I know it will), Riggins will be right back in the picture b/c Lyla's going to show up at his door for consolation. You KNOW she is.

Lord, I wish this weren't true. But I can feel it coming.

Can we send Riggins back to the Taylors so that Julie can ogle him some more through the sliding door? I miss that episode so much. Sigh...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Alan and previous commentators that the absence of football this season has been a major problem for the show.

The irony is that the victory at state could have been used to raise a bunch of interesting storylines for season two. Does winning a football championship really cure the social ills in Dillon or is it just a fleeting moment of exuberance? How do the players react to the crushing expectations of a town that expects them to repeat? What about having Mac elevated to head coach - how would this sit with the African American players who walked out in the previous season? More generally, I think the show needed to take some risks and open up the world of Dillon. We need to meet new players on the team, see new sides of the town, explore new themes. What about focusing on the hispanic neighborhood or exploring the role of the boom bust oil economy or discuss the social costs of returning veterans from Iraq on small towns.

The show right now seems very insular. Its the same characters going through recycled plotlines, many of which are unbelievable or melodramatic. The show needed to expand. Instead, it turned in on itself.

That being said, I still enjoy those small beautiful moments that mj mentioned. Its too bad that one has to search for those moments this season, when last year, every episode was filled with them.

Anonymous said...

Could someone please hand Tim Riggins his balls back? And while you're at it, someone show ANYONE on the show what it looks like when a person spikes a volleyball. Watching Tyra "spike" the ball was horribly, laughably sad.

That was one lame episode. I miss the football, and I am not a football fan by any stretch of the imagination.

Anonymous said...

why couldn't the characters just have a hilarious car wash like an indie rock montage to raise money for the Riggins? It would bring all the characters together for the first time and still be the most realistic thing on the show

Anonymous said...

Not to open up a Pandora’s Box, Pandyora, but I thought I would jot down some ideas for small but beautiful moments in this episode, alone. I actually agree that it doesn’t compare with many of the Season 1 episodes. But they sure made me think. Alan lets the 30 Rock commentators simply list lines from the show over at their threads so I can’t imagine he’d be offended by the following:

1. Herc’s response to the $4000 car repair bill: Does that at least come with an orgasm?

2. The headbutt. Out of nowhere. In the middle of the street.

3. End of the week, pretty boy or I’ll shoot your knees off. Good luck in the game on Friday.

4. I would love to butter you some toast. The look. Mrs Coach knew exactly where Coach was heading with trying to recruit her to be the volleyball coach.

5. Three weeks. Period. Four at most. [answers phone] Hello.

6. Understanding what Jason needs to go through to dress in a suit.

7. The emptiness of the showroom floor a minute after Buddy proudly introduces one of the greatest quarterbacks in the history of Dillon football to his dealership’s sales people.

8. Mama Smash’s guttural delivery of “We’re gonna listen to what this man has to say”.

9. The exchange between Tyra and and Landry when Jean went to get a coke. Landry says she’s got nice hair. Completely ignored by Tyra. That dialogue was natural and felt like it couldn’t have been written (Unlike Mad Men which I watched for the first time and enjoyed, but, honestly, do people ever really have those incredibly well-written conversations?).

10. Riggins’ frustrated “hit it OVER the net” to the volleyball girls, as if they didn’t know that’s what they had to do. Mrs Coach putting Rigg in his place and then yelling at the girls for not talking enough, in a much more egregious way than Rigg had yelled.

11. Coach’s “First day of coaching is always a reality check.”

12. The look on Mrs Coach’s face when Tyra reaches to the top cabinet.

13. Julie’s realization at the dinner table that her mom is trying to recruit Tyra to the volleyball team even before Mrs Coach’s classic, “You’re a tall drink of water”. And Mrs Coach’s persistent ignorance of Julie when Julie tries to protest her mother’s almost shameful recruiting tactics.

14. The background song when Lyla visits Riggins.

15. Garrity, I love you. (Classic Rigg. Doesn’t even use the first name of the girl he loves).

16. In the middle of Mrs Coach’s pep talk for Tyra – “Tim, if you hit me with that ball…”. Sure, that interjection was designed to help create the motivation for why Tyra would use Tim as motivation for being a better spiker, but it was just so naturally delivered by CB.

17. How Buddy Garrity can cover so much ground in a few words that sound very natural and not written in advance. In the space of a one-minute pep talk to Jason he covered little fillies, lookie-loos, tour days, how to sell cars, the importance of selling, and knocking one down. Not once did it seem that those words had ever been written. And maybe they hadn’t.

18. Jean’s observation that the sizzling apple pie can not only save Landry’s life but it will also help with physics.

19. Landry’s realization on his face that he is WAY out of his league in discussing thrash metal bands with Jean. Then the more dramatic realization that he actually likes this girl Jean, even in the presence of the love of his life Tyra. Beautiful setup. Beautifully played.

20. The sweet vulnerability of Smash’s sister.

21. Explosions in the Sky underpinning Lyla’s conversation with her new boyfriend and at least two other conversations in this episode. I agree with Carlos – welcome back, Explosions in the Sky!

22. Jason’s passion in his speech to the Lookie-Loo. And the attention to detail with Jason’s hands.

23. Hubby’s home, how was your day, darlin. The pendulum swing between the nothingness in the conversation between Jason and Herc and the look on Herc’s face in his understanding the importance of Street selling the car. Oh, and Explosions in the Sky underpinning that conversation (and the next conversation), too.

24. “God’s little gift to Landry. “

25. Rigg to Billy: “Oh my God, what, you’re going to apply your grade 9 education to the stock market?”

26. (Mentioned in an earlier post): The shot of Coach when Mrs Coach coaches the team during a timeout.

27. Mom is 1 and 1, 1 and 0, 1 for 1.

28. The thoughts running through Smash’s mind when he told of his 3-game suspension. Few spoken words, but the acting, as always, said so much more than words could have.

I know I have missed others.

Anonymous said...

Smash's lawyer should be disbarred. For one, he waived privilege by letting the coach sit in on private attorney-client meetings. Second, if he can't cut a deal for a first time offender/football star with the local assistant district attorney who would be handling this penny-ante case, then Mama Smash was robbed by him.

Plus, how is it that the football player who gets into a relatively minor scuffle is followed around by local news affiliates but the one who killed a man and covered it up escapes any media scrutiny whatsoever?

Anonymous said...

Damnit FNL, you are effing killing me. Just kiling me!

You know how we are ignoring that whole "Landry killed a guy"? I'm inclined to do that for the whole second season. Let's make it a clean slate and start over again with Season Three?

Seriously, Season Two can be forgiven and forgotten. Make it happen.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, MJ, for your thoughtful commentary and "beautiful" moments. I agree completely. I wonder why people keep watching if Season 2 pains them so much. And, I wonder if M*A*S*H would have lasted 11 seasons in this age of blogging?

Anonymous said...

I might be the only one who is enjoying this season. The murder plot gave us great scenes between two fringe characters that were pretty much there to fill in stereotypes. (QB's nerdy best friend, the slutty girl)

Everybody keeps saying that the entire plot was ridiculous and not characteristic of the show, but it dealt with it in a not so conventional way by having Landry not really feel as though he was defending himself for Tyra's sake.

And come on about the football. Can every season end with whether or not the football team makes the playoffs. Season one was about that, season 2 can't be the same. We can't have to Dillon Panthers win or lose state every season finale.

K J Gillenwater said...

No, it doesn't have to always end with the football team winning or losing, but I can definitely say that I would have liked them to explore how a football scholarship and hopes for the future can be killed by a bad season.

Imagine Smash thinking he was going to cruise into some top 10 school, and then find out nobody wants him anymore...except some sorry little college somewhere. How would that affect him? How would that change his views on his future?

That would have interested me.

I want to know more about how the importance of football in high school changes how these characters view themselves and view their futures. Where did that introspection go?

Anonymous said...

Kristin said:

I would have liked them to explore how a football scholarship and hopes for the future can be killed by a bad season.

Without giving too much away, that was one of the main themes of H.G. Bissinger's original non-fiction book "Friday Night Lights." The character of "Boobie", on whom Smash is based, experiences something quite similar to what you describe.

Overall, Bissinger's book is a really great read. It also includes a number of fascinating events and scenes that could have been developed into compelling plotlines for season 2.

Anonymous said...

Oh no, when FNL's biggest champion (i.e. Kristin) is complaining about the show ... that's when you know there's trouble.

K J Gillenwater said...

I know, Anonymous! What's happened to me?? But these last 2 episodes just weren't as good as the rest of season 2 for me.

I really think it was the Lyla/Riggins thing, which took up a lot of the plot for both of these episodes. I just don't like her. I don't feel sorry for her situation or care what choices she makes. Unlike everyone else.

I really do blame it on the actress. She just can't make her character sympathetic. Whenever she gets angry, she sounds like a Barbie Doll...fake.

I'm not looking forward to this week, either, based on the scenes I've seen. Except I'm really pulling for Landry and the girl with the it Jean? I like her. Spunky. Different. Smart. That's who Landry deserves.

Anonymous said...

Letting Riggins say "grade 9" was The Best Canadian-ism ever.

We laughed until we cried, because it's the easiest way to spot a Canadian (or vice versa) in general conversation. Did they just miss it, or does Texas have more in common with Canada than I can possibly believe?

Donny said...

Ok, Alan is right on with his complaints about the lack of football. Football carried season 1. Not just the football game scenes or practice scenes, but the way football permeated the town and controlled everything from Buddy, to the team, to the Taylors.

Is the suspension of Smash just another way for FNL to eliminate football from the show? Or will they play the same card as in Season 1, when Street goes down and the team responds with huge wins and a championship? God, I hope not.

Alan - Riggins told Lyla when he came to the church that he stole $3,000 from meth-man.

The volleyball scenes were the worst, most unrealitic scenes in FNL history. They had to zoom in so close when Tyra was spiking to avoid showing how utterly pathetic she looked and you could STILL tell.

All said, I'm not 100% disappointed in the show. To steal a line from "Varsity Blues"...."stick to the basics...STICK TO THE BASICS!!!!"