Friday, April 5, 2013

TV: Friday Night Lights

"Possible spoilers, but nothing too dramatic"

As much as I love movies, if a television show is able to draw me in I am all in. What I like, however, is catching up with a show after it has already finished airing - I have watched numerous series this way, and I have to say I love it that way. This way you don't need to wade through commercials, breaks during the show, summers, etc.

My latest adventure into a television series was Friday Night Lights. The television show is based on a feature film of the same name, which in turn was based off a book - which was based off of actual events.

I watched the film when it first came out on DVD and had watched it once again awhile ago, but it had been awhile - after finishing the television series I decided to check it out again.

That being said, Friday Night Lights (the television series) is based on football. However, it is one of those shows that is based on something, but it delves much, much deeper.

Throughout the show there is one constant, the Taylor family. Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler), has just been named head coach of the Dillon Panthers in Texas. His wife, Tami (Connie Britton), is a stay-at-home mother (at the start of the series) and they have a daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden), who is a freshman at Dillon High School.

The show itself is pretty much based around their family, but branches out to a very strong supporting cast featured through players on the football team, their girlfriends and boosters of the football game.

Dillon, in season one, is one of the favorites to capture the state championship in Taylor's first year as head coach. He takes over with a proven quarterback in senior Jason Street (Scott Porter) and a strong running game in junior tailback Brian 'Smash' Williams (Gaius Charles) and fullback Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch).

In the Panthers' first game, they find themselves trailing and Street drops back for a pass and is intercepted. Being the only person between the player with the ball and the goal line, Street makes the touchdown saving tackle, but in the process becomes paralyzed.

With their star quarterback gone, Dillon pretty much writes off the season when little known sophomore Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) takes over. Despite being very nervous and out of his element, Saracen actually leads the Panthers back for the win - but the community still feels he is not the answer at quarterback for a team destined for state.

Other main characters in the first few seasons are Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), the on-again-off-again girlfriend of Riggins; Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly), a sophomore cheerleader going out with Street; Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons), freshman best friend of Saracen and Buddy Garrity (Brad Leland), Lyla's father and booster of the Panthers.

In the last two seasons we are introduced to sophomore quarterback Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), junior running back Luke Cafferty (Matt Lauria) and football fanatic/student Jess Merriweather (Jurnee Smollett).

There is literally a ton of things that go on in the five seasons of Friday Night Lights - not even counting it being on right in the middle of the writer's strike - but I won't be able to go into all of them here.

Each season has a new issue that arises that the Taylor family needs to overcome. The characters are very well written and the actors are all well liked in their roles.

The first few seasons of the show are probably the best, but the last two are still very watchable and enjoyable - I will have an extra blog talking about this in the near future.

The football in the show is pretty good, too. Although, I can't believe that any of these players would be able to truly play in Texas, or get Division I scholarships.

Also, there are a few plot points in the show that sort of go unanswered, and are sometimes completely forgotten about. There was one that really had me confused, but they eventually circled back to it, even if it was much later than I expected.

I would definitely recommend checking the show out - you don't even have to like football to enjoy it, but if you do you may like it a bit more. I really liked it and I was a bit sad when it finished - probably why I jumped at the chance to re-watch the film as soon as it finished.

Speaking of the film, there are actually two crossovers from the film and the show. Brad Leland, who plays Buddy Garrity in the show, was also a booster in the film. He didn't have a huge role in the film, but his role is much bigger in the series. Also, Connie Britton, who plays Tami Taylor, was also the wife of the head coach in the film. Here her role is so much bigger, she hardly spoke in the film - so little in fact I didn't even remember she was in it. In the show, her role his huge - pretty much the main star with her husband.

P.S. - If you're a fan of television's Parenthood keep an eye out for a ton of cameos throughout that have also been in that show. It was actually cool picking them all out.


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