Sunday, October 28, 2007

"You're spending all this time with a boy who doesn't seem to have a name.": Friday Night Lights

Take a look at that man. When you inevitably see him later in the season, coaching one of the Dillon Panthers' rivals in the playoffs, you can smile to yourself (because, hopefully, the show is back on track again now) and remember that that man was probably the least realistic and developed character in the show's history. Sure, he got kind of a nice moment on the way out, but for most of these first four episodes, he was a crazy strawman, designed to bring the show false drama.

I've harped on how the show really biffed the "Coach Taylor goes to Austin" plotline (and, actually, everyone who writes about this show has), but it really bears repeating: This storyline just wasn't that interesting when it made everyone miserable with the status quo. That made it too easy for the show to return to the OLD status quo, and thus, one of the biggest storylines of the first four episodes always felt like a bit of a waste. It was nice to see Tami trying to get by without him and struggling, and it was interesting to see how Julie took all of this as license to have her brief rebellion with THE SWEDE (whose real name was Anton -- which is awesome).

Hopefully, now that Taylor's back, the show will regain its center. Back when the writers talked about dialing down the football in favor of character-based stuff, I didn't think it was such a bad idea, but now that the show is actually doing that, I kind of think that having football at the center of the show was a good thing. It gave the storylines a natural place to stem from, which is why I got a little jolt of familiarity when Taylor stepped into that room and talked to the team again as his team. I may not have liked the inevitability of the storyline that got him there, but I liked the destination, if that makes sense.

I didn't mind the Street and Riggins in Mexico storyline as much as I thought I might, but it was still pretty stupid, even if that moment when Street talked about how much he hates Dillon was heartbreaking (though it makes little to no sense -- he couldn't have left?), and I even sort of enjoyed Riggins here. Still, how are these two able to make this big escape and not have to worry about school or other responsibilities? And, again, FNL, if you make Street walk again, I will inject shark blood (or whatever) into YOUR body.

Lyla's conversion to Christianity continues to fascinate me with just how insincere she makes sincerity seem. She's trying her hardest, but it's clear this is just a reaction to the way her life has spiraled out of control. Meanwhile, her dad has somehow pulled it together enough to stage what's apparently an effective coup d'etat to get Coach Plot Device out of town so Taylor can come back. I have no idea what the writers are doing with Buddy -- he's in a different place in the town's social hierarchy with every week.

Also, the Panthers lost their game, which was sad.

Landry and Tyra continued to be backburnered. The resolution of the storyline here -- the cops confirming that the dead body was of Tyra's would-be rapist -- might have been a place to bring the thing to a close so we could all forget any of this ever happened. Instead, I had to read in the LA Times that this is going to go on for NINE EPISODES. Oh good Lord. Fortunately, Landry goes to that fictional church where the sermon always directly comments on the storylines the characters are involved in that all television characters go to. It was awfully nice of the pastor to talk about guilt and sin and redemption! That helped move the story along thematically! Also, are Landry and Tyra out as a couple now? Or do they just SEEM like a couple everywhere and save the physical stuff for when no one can see? Have they been holding hands or something? I can't tell. Landry's dad continues to be a fascinating character, and it makes me hope that the writers have a powerhouse scene coming up featuring him when he finds out what his son did. It'll almost make up for the clunky plotting.

Anyway, I liked how this episode brought a lot of storylines to a close, so it seems as if a bunch of them will be gone in time for next week's episode. I'm hoping that this is a good sign of how the story will speed along now, and that this early portion of the season was just a misguided attempt to get away from what FNL does best.

1 comment:

page said...

I was upset after the first episode. The body off the bridge was just too much for me and it didn't seem very FNL, you know? I haven't read your earlier entries on the show, I'm sure you discuss it, I'll go look. Anyway, I've felt they've been slowly getting more on track and that each episode has improved. I agree with you completely about football at the center. That was a very smart observation and the show would be well served by doing as you suggest. I like the conversion storyline because that church is just too freaky for words and Lyla's inevitable return to sinner is bound to be juicy.