Tuesday, October 10, 2006

First Impressions: Friday Night Lights

The cast of Friday Night LightsEveryday I watch a lot of ESPN with Jim Rome Is Burning, , and a good chunk of Sportcenter surround my dinner every night. I even subscribe to the ESPN Radio postcast and no matter how bad it is, I’ll still sit and watch the Browns every Sunday and my life completely shuts down the third weekend in every March. With that said, I rarely watch sports movies. Before you point to the name of this blog, let me go ahead and defend it by saying 1) is a comedy first, sports movie second, 2) golf isn’t a sport, it’s a leisure activity like bowling and darts.

Now one of the reasons I stay away from sports movies even though I’m a huge spots fan is simple, no one could ever write a story as great as Gibson’s home run, the ending of Cal vs. Stanford, or Red Sox coming from 3-0 down to beat the Yankees. And as someone who has lived his whole life in northeast Ohio, no one can write something as heartbreaking as The Drive, The Fumble, or Jordan over Ehlo. Of the few sports movies I have seen, is not one of them because, well, they didn’t have any cheerleaders in whip-cream bikinis.

At the big gameI planned on continuing my moratorium on sports movies into television with the serialized version of Friday Night Lights, but after a week of glowing reviews from the few that actually watched the show, with one newspaper even calling it the best pilot they ever saw, I decided to check it out on the website (where you can still see for yourself at least for now). The best pilot ever? Um, no. The best pilot this season? Not really. The best pilot of a new show this season on Tuesdays? Totally (although that may change after the debut of whatever ABC is calling Let’s Rob Mick Jagger this week).

The show follows a football team and their new coach in Texas, a state that has a disturbing obsession with high school football. And it’s not just any old team; it’s the preseason number one team in the state. Don’t ask me how a team with a new coach gets to be number one out of all the teams in Texas. Maybe it’s the Notre Dame recruited star quarterback and maybe it’s the Longhorn courted black running back who just so happens doesn’t get along too well with his white fullback. Oh, the racism, you know, just like .

No whip cream bikinis... yetI’ll have to admit, there were a few chill scenes throughout the first episode like in practice like the guy that fumbled the ball who had to go in front of the tackling squad. But the show is brought down by the same reason I don’t watch sports movies, it is filled with too many cliché. The worst being (MAJOR SPOILER if you haven’t seen the first episode) the quarterback predictably going down, I knew this was going to happen the moment the backup quarterback came on screen. Then they had the backup comeback from not just a touchdown deficit, but two in the final six minutes to win the game. You know, just like . (END SPOILERS)

And it’s not just the actually show that hurts Friday Night Lights. First, there is already way too much real football on television right now I’m not sure many people want to put fake football on the schedule. Not to mention the poor planning having the show debut against the start of the baseball playoffs. The show may have been better off as a midseason replacement, go from the coach getting hired and spring practices, then come back in the fall with fans already hooked that they would continue watching even with the football overload. This would have also help with introducing the players, it’s hard enough to get to know a character on a show as is, but it’s impossible when they are wear helmets half the pilot. Then much like MTV’s took some steam off the fictionalized The OC, the reality of takes away some allure off of Friday Night Lights.

Verdict: NBC has two new football programs this year, but I have a feeling Friday Night Lights will be off the air before Sunday Night Football plays its last game of the season. Friday Night Lights airs at 8:00 on NBC and the latest episode can be streamed at its website the day after it airs.


  1. I admit, I love this show. Probably more than my husband even does. I like it more when they are showing less of the football game, which the 2nd episode does. I really like the cast so far. Coach's wife is great.

    I agree with the cliches, I could have done without the whole quarterback thing, but what can you do.

    Kyle Chandler is oh-my-god hot and sexy in such a subtle way. It's the eyes, I think. But really, that doesn't have anything to do with it. Well, not much anyway. But, if you must know, he's going back on my "list." Nevermind.

    One thing you didn't mention, at least I don't think you did, was that damn jiggly camera action. Sometimes it's not bad, other times it's just ridiculous. THAT I could do without.

    Bottom line, I like this show a lot, so, that pretty much means that it WILL be cancelled.

  2. I think you pretty much explained how you could like the show more than your husband with the " oh-my-god hot and sexy" dude. (Again) I may give it a couple more tries if it continues to be able to stream at the NBC website mostly because I have a late class on Tuesdays.

    I didn't mention the jiggly camera because it didn't really bother me much. I guess the last two seasons of Lost has gotten me used to it. But my one problem with it though is they don't make it clear if this is a "documentory" or not. They mentioned in the pilot that a news camera would be following them around but never say if they are the "camera men" or not.