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Moist Eyes, Heavy Heart, Can't Watch: 'Friday Night Lights' Delivers a Bittersweet Farewell
February 9, 2011  | By David Bianculli

No spoilers here, since NBC viewers won't see the finale of Friday Night Lights for about half a year. But DirecTV subscribers -- the ones who spent Wednesday night watching the final episode of the five-year drama about family and football life in a small Texas town -- witnessed a loving, thoughtful, inspirational ending to an equally loving, thoughtful and inspirational series. The only thing that put the bitter in its bittersweet is that it's over, for good...


Executive producer Jason Katims wrote the finale, and trusted his actors to deliver the goods whether with sparse lines of dialogue, or in wordless but evocative montages. The intelligence, the class, was everywhere in the last episode, down to the way the show's two biggest questions were handled: Would the Lions win state? And with both Connie Britton's Tami Taylor and Kyle Chandler's Eric Taylor entertaining attractive job offers, who defers to whom?

Again, no answers here. But the way both of those issues are handled are perfect examples why Friday Night Lights, among those who have revered the series for years, are so sad to see it go -- yet so happy to have seen it at all.


The young actors and actresses on this show have been brilliant from the start, and certainly ended things that way. The more mature actors and actresses, even more so.

Over the years, on separate occasions, I've interviewed both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

If you like, as a farewell of sorts, you can listen back to my conversation with Chandler, from April 2008, by clicking HERE -- and/or my conversation with Britton, from June 2010, by clicking HERE.

Clear voices. Full hearts. Can't complain -- except that NBC never treated Friday Night Lights with the respect it deserved. A show this excellent deserved a few more years.




Tausif Khan said:

I can't wait for the final season on NBC. This finale is something that will be really interesting for a live blog.

Comment posted on February 10, 2011 8:10 AM

Mara said:

I was lucky enough to be able to watch the beautiful and heartbreaking finale, but now I have no one to talk to about it! another one of the real tragedies of the story of Friday Night Lights is that "they" have taken away our collective experience by flinging it all around the networks the way that they have. I wish that we all could meet here today and discuss our different states of mourning without feeling like those who don't happen to subscribe to Direct TV are out of the loop. I guess the days of everyone watching the same show at the same time have been over for years, but it is at times like this that I really miss them!

[Dear Mara -- I feel EXACTLY the same way! (Wanna meet for coffee?)

And more and more, with TiVo-ing and waiting for DVD boxed sets, this "collective experience" of ours is being spoiled by fear of spoilers. For example: YOU know what I mean when I say, "Wasn't it beautiful that we saw all the characters' eyes following the arc of that final pass -- but not the end result?" -- DB]

Comment posted on February 10, 2011 9:28 AM

Ed q said:

I'm 3 episodes behind on this final season. To be honest I've been afraid to watch because once I do there's really no more Friday Night Lights... ever. Eventually my wife & I will sit down to a 3 hour marathon, but not yet.

Thanks for no spoilers.

[You're welcome -- but see my other replies here to point out what we're all missing. Meanwhile, check back in when you and your wife HAVE seen them. Let's discuss. -- DB]

Comment posted on February 10, 2011 9:40 AM

Mark N said:

Dear David...I usually start these comments with a thank you for recommending this show in the first place (I was gonna watch it anyway because of Peter Berg's film). Well here I go again! This has been my favorite show for all 5 years of its run. I have experienced the full gamut of emotions with it, including the unbelievable tension of waiting for its yearly renewal and its wild ride through syndication. A shameful promotional performance by NBC. I am so pleased it ran a full course (Although I, too, regret that they didn't run it another 3 seasons). I thought that depth of the characters , their excellent portrayal by an amazing cast and its beautiful presentation of family values made this show special. But trying to get others to watch and share it (right there with you, Mara) was made all the harder by my inability to describe it properly. Was it a football show?...Was it a family drama?..Was it a teenage soap opera? I blame my inadequate proselytizing.
Well and truly this has been my greatest private pleasure and I will miss it and Coach and Tami Taylor,Luke, Vince, Matt, Julie, Buddy and Becky, Tim, Tyra, Billy and all the others. Thanks. And as we all saw at the end, it's time to turn out the lights.

[Clear eyes -- barely. -- DB]

Comment posted on February 10, 2011 11:57 AM

steve Cooper said:

Great finale!!! Great series!!! My favorite drama ever putting it ahead of The Sopranos, Buffy, And Underbelly ( Aussie crime series). So sad to see it go.

Thanks David.... I've been reading your column since the Daily News and always look for your opinion on new shows before I watch them

[Wonderful to have you here. Thanks! -- DB]

Comment posted on February 10, 2011 5:07 PM

Gov said:

It was a fantastic finale with all the story lines coming to a nice ending. I think it was a great 5 year run, and I am glad it is over now rather than a couple of more years. There are definitely shows who have long outstayed their welcome. One never knows. I am glad it did not end abruptly though.

Comment posted on February 11, 2011 12:36 PM

Angela said:

I haven't seen the final season yet but I'm so happy to hear it lives up to the incredible spirit of the previous 4 seasons. I will always remember how FNL made me feel so many emotions.
I will be a fan forever.

David, I'm showing my ignorance here because I've never looked into an actual course outline for what you teach at college, but wouldn't this be the perfect TV series to examine for understanding how one can take regular, real life, every day problems of teens in rural America and create some of the finest drama out of that material? (Even without the murder story-line in season 2? ;-)

Someone should do it, even if it's just a continuing education course at the local college for people like me, who probably won't ever pursue a degree in fine arts, but want to learn more about art, communication, media, and writing, all within the context of one low budget TV show! Or maybe an on-line course, hint, hint.

And....., back to reality. At least we can buy it as a DVD *gift* set. It's one of the few time I would not mind guilt tripping people with teens into watching it with their kids, who will then want to watch it with their kids, and on it goes.
That's my hope anyway.

Full hearts!

@ Tausif, Agreed about it making for a great live blog! Will there be such a thing?

[If you're asking Tausif, I have no idea. If you're asking me, I think it may be misplaced love, because of the fact that it's not really a first-time "live" event by the time it's shown on NBC. But I LOVE the college-course idea. I'll keep you posted. Oh, and I agree about the murder story-line, too. Too much invented drama, wasn't at all necessary. -- DB]

Comment posted on February 14, 2011 1:29 AM

philip said:

Thanks for recommending this. A couple of years ago I tried to watch an episode in midstream, and I could not make heads or tails.

Now I am watching from season 1, via Netflix instant download, and I am hooked!

Comment posted on February 17, 2011 12:36 AM

JG said:

Sorry. Never could understand most music lyrics so I'll pass.

Comment posted on March 3, 2011 4:50 AM
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