Thursday, February 01, 2007

"Proud in defeat and humble in victory": Friday Night Lights

Welcome back, shaky cam! How we've missed you!

I enjoyed this episode, finding it to be easily the best since November sweeps. That's not to imply that the show has been in a huge slump or something (clearly, it hasn't), but there was a little too much "stunting" for me. While I liked Smash's drug use as a way to give him something to do, it flirted a little too much with very special episode territory. This episode was back to the bleak yet somehow hopeful Friday Night Lights from the start of the season, with the exception of one plotline that was good except for a few small things.

One of the things I've always liked about the Lights is that it treats the faith of the people of Dillon matter-of-factly, not condemning them for holding it, nor putting them on a pedestal for having it. The show had skewed away from this in recent episodes (the only scenes in church were when Smash took the collection raised for him to buy drugs), but it was nice to see Smash praying before the game again, Coach Taylor with head bowed and eyes screwed shut.

I quite liked the scene where Smash and Coach played football with the little kids. It could have been excessively maudlin, but, as always, the show found a way to do this plot point without seeming as if it had dropped in to fit some sort of "TV template." I think it's because the show doesn't pull its punches in regards to how important football is to these people and how much of a life-saver it can be that scenes like this work when they wouldn't on pretty much any other drama. Whatever it is, the series uses these scenes sparingly, and that makes them effective.

I wasn't sold on the Saracen/Julie drama, which dropped in at the end of the episode. I can't imagine that she won't forgive him right away, as he didn't do anything THAT bad, to be fair. These kinds of needless speed bumps in TV relationships make me roll my eyes.

The Jason/Lyla engagement storyline also played out well. Buddy Garrity may be my least favorite character on the show (most weeks, he drifts uncomfortably close to a stereotype), but his interactions with Jason and Lyla in this episode (and the two as a couple) rang true, and Jason's scene with Coach near episode's end (right before the lawsuit Jason's family had brought against Coach went to court) was another sterling scene in an episode full of them.

The only thing that was occasionally off was the Riggins meets his dad subplot. Much of it worked (and I liked the scenes before the falling out quite a bit), but when the two had their big fight, it felt a little over-expository -- as though two people with this much water under the bridge needed to get down in the water and muck around in it instead of just knowing what was in it already. Still, even though you knew it was coming, Riggins' dad showing up at the big game at the end made an already happy ending even happier.

Most weeks, this show ends on a bit of a down note, but this one chose to end on something approaching hope.

This is probably a BAD sign for weeks to come.

1 comment:

David Sims said...

I liked the kid football scenes just because it reminded us that Coach Taylor does actually enjoy football. Week-to-week he's so stressed out by the Panthers that it was nice to show us he appreciates the game just for fun, you know?

The Riggins dad thing was handled really well, I thought, cause they didn't go too far over the edge, presenting him as some total bottom-feeding alcoholic abusive screwup. Their falling out was obvious from a mile off, but it wasn't that drawn-out? Basically Riggins saying "alright, screw it" and leaving.

I'm with you on Matt/Julie though.