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'Friday Night Lights' Remains a Winner
November 1, 2010  | By Alan Pergament


It is time to get sentimental about Friday Night Lights.

And with Friday Night Lights.

The series about life in a small Texas town where high school football is king just entered its final season on DirecTV's The 101 channel (9 p.m. ET Wednesdays), before it gets a larger audience in 2011 on NBC.

In a TV season that is without a must-see new hit, Lights shone as brightly and as beautifully as ever in last week's premiere episode, titled "Expectations."

The series finally received Emmy respect last season, with the actors playing the best husband and wife team on TV, Kyle Chandler (Coach Eric Taylor) and Connie Britton (guidance counselor Tami Taylor), deservedly getting nominations.

This being high school, the departures of Minka Kelly (Derek Jeter's fiance), Scott Porter (who now is on The Good Wife), Adrianne Palicki (who was on this year's flop Lone Star) and Zach Gilford as regular cast members have been skillfully handled. They all will return for appearances in the final season.


In the fifth-season premiere, the Taylors had to deal with the heartache of seeing their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) head off to college.

It's a very sentimental goodbye that should resonate with any parent who's experienced the emotional pain of seeing a child leave while at the same time being proud that they raised him or her to be independent.

At one point, Eric looks at his wife and daughter having a conversation at the kitchen table about shopping and says "I'm going to miss this."

There is a lot to love about Lights, with the Taylors' family life high on the list.

The remaining characters from the original cast include bad boy Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch) and good guy Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons). However, it looks as if they will be taking a back seat to newcomers on the series.


The show's writers have done a great job in the past few seasons incorporating new teen characters played by Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Madison Burges. This year, they have added Grey Damon (90210, True Blood) as a basketball player who initially takes the very un-Texas like position that "football is stupid."

Though Lights has been one of the best shows on TV for four seasons, it never has been able to attract the audience it deserves for a combination of reasons.

For one thing, it isn't easy getting viewers to watch family dramas.

The football backdrop also may have turned off female viewers from even sampling the show, though those who have seem to love it.

The story lines also can be a little too dark and depressing, since they deal with very real issues involving teens in a poor Texas town dominated by football – including the inequities between funding of schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs, racial discord, neglectful/abusive parents and boyfriends, and the difficult of escaping the cycle of poverty.

But it is the intelligent way that Lights deals with all these issues that makes it a TV classic that deserves to go out a winner.

And all indications are that it has a solid game plan for a final season, after last year's winning season in which Coach Taylor left the comfort of Dillon High to go crosstown to East Dillon and coach with considerably fewer resources.

It wasn't an easy move for his wife, either. The guidance counselor will face frustrations after heading East, too, at season's end, after taking a principled stand that upset the Dillon School Board.

Looks like Coach Taylor will once again try to teach his players lessons about teamwork, pride and family, while his frustrated wife tries to help them overcome the low expectations their parents have given them.

If you don't shed a tear or two as the Taylors prepare to say loving goodbyes to their daughter, then check your pulse to see if you're alive.

I'm going to miss this series.




Brett Johnson said:

I totally agree! I was surprised that this truly exceptional TV show has such a small audience. Their loss! I can't even get my wife or teenagers to watch with me. Every episode seems to me like a one hour sequel to the movie... picking up seamlessly. Too many good shows get overlooked. Why does "Two and a Half Men" continue when "Arrested Development" lasted what, two, three seasons? Sigh.. TV continues to contribute to the "dumbing down" of America.
Your voice of reason shines lines a beacon in the wilderness. Keep up the good work!

P.S. I really enjoy your spots on NPR

Comment posted on November 2, 2010 7:41 PM
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