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Friday Night Lights: 1st Season Review

Posted by tvondvdcritic on December 4, 2007


I dont like football. I liked this show. Friday Night Lights at first glance appears to be about football and nothing else. While football is the central theme of the show, its the emotional value the characters put into it that make it likeable. I know what your thinking. Not another show that turns every ending into a tearjerker. Well, its not like that. Yes it has moving scenes, but the best thing the show has going for it is its rawness. Even the way the show is shot, with shaky camera work, and awkward angles make it seem like your right there next to them. I cant say enough about that aspect because I would say thats the reason I like the show, one of the only reasons. I hate football, the storyline was predictable, I hated a lot of the charecters, but i still liked the show.

The first episode focuses on the city of Dillon Texs and the high school football team, the Panthers. I wasnt blown away by the pilot, however it set the tone for the ‘rawness’ factor and that itself was intriguing. The cliffhanger was slightly ridiculous though. The star quarterback gets paralyzed in the first game of the season. The city is devastated and wondering how they will recover and play good football. Anybody who doesn’t think that by seasons end the team wont win the big championship, doesnt watch much tv, because of course they win, I’ll spoil that for you right now.

Jason, the quarterback who got paralyzed, makes a less than dramatic recovery, and has ups and downs with his cheerleader girlfriend Lila. The storyline did nothing for me, except make me hate Jason. He had the typical Nancy Kerrigan ‘Why me?’ motto and would bitch and whine about everything. Everything except handicapped rugby that is. Yes, handicap rugby. He tries out for the Beijing Olympics (what?) and once he fails to make the team his life is in pieces yet again. Until he gets a job as a assistant coach for his former football team of course. Yep, even though another character earlier in the season tried to get a job for the team but couldn’t because it was too late in the season, Jason manages to get the job in a matter of two days.

The show revolves around coach Taylor. A tough guy on the outside, sweet on the inside kinda guy. We’ve seen a million of this guy on tv before. His storylines are predictable. Wife and Daughter drama, work drama, etc. etc. Despite that, I still hadn’t given up on this show at this point. And I think the main reason why is the acting has a way about it. It’s not the best acting, in fact I would go as far as to say sometimes its overacted, but it looks as if its almost natural, like there isnt any acting. And even though I didn’t like all the actors, they put all of themselves into it, which is more than a lot of shows do now a days.

Coach Taylor and his homelife play a big part in the show. And that’s a good thing, because I didn’t know how much more I could take of high schoolers acting like it’s the end of the world if they lost the game. Yes I know it’s their life but come on. Sometimes it just seemed like they did not act their age and that football was God to them, except only not, because the show also has a large Christian vibe to the show.

Julie, Coach Taylor’s daughter, develops a relationship with Matt, the quarterback after Jason gets crippled (oops did I just say that?). Julie’s character is pleasant enough. One of the more likeable people on the show for me, probably because she hated how the town worshipped the football players. Her involvement with Matt causes complications for her Dad since that is a player on his team. One of the better storylines of the season, including the best moment of the season when Julie’s Mom discusses sex with Julie and screams ‘You cannot have sex!”

Speaking of Matt, he is my favorite person on the show. He was the realest, most likeable character there. He lived with his Gramma and was one of the few people not to get on my nerves all season. He had more emotional depth than anyone, and the best storylines of anyone (Julie, his Dad coming back from Iraq, his Gramma)

Not to be forgotten (unfortunately) is ‘Smash’ and Tim. Smash plays the cocky black kid who thinks he better than anyone. Oh and he takes steroids, gets caught, and gets off clean without punishment! Another reason to be a football player! Tim, is a drunk at the age of 16, and starts sleeping with someone in their 40’s. Did I mention he’s 16?

A big critique I have of the show (as if I didn’t have enough already) is how the team manages to win games with seconds left by some miraculous play. Thats not believeable. And it happens in almost every game they win. Team is down with only minutes remaining. The coach calls them over for a pep talk. They go back on the field and win the game. If that was the whole episode I would have stopped watching after the first show. I have to keep referring back to the acting style though, the reason I kept watching.

Yes they annoyed me, yes it was slightly overacted, but I can’t say enough about the way the show is produced and shot. It makes up for the problems a lot. Despite an iffy storyline all season, there are enough good plots to get you through, and the look of the show will bump it up a few notches, which it does for me.

Score: 7.5/10


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