Monday, May 10, 2010

'Friday Night Lights' Returned with Gutsy Premiere

*Warning: Spoilers ahead from the season four premiere of Friday Night Lights.*

How amazingly gutsy.

Losing 47-0, at halftime, his team -- possessing little-to-no experience, precious few resources and no confidence -- sits in the locker room. The grossly undermanned team of less than two dozen teenage high school football players is bloody, broken, physically unable to continue. Their huge-hearted coach -- who had taken his former high school team to win the State Championship, who was humiliated in last year's season finale by being fired and re-assigned to another high school in town, one with no money and no football team – decided, on their behalf, to forfeit the game. They weren’t going to win and going ahead and playing the game would’ve just savaged those kids’ bodies. And for this crucial decision, Coach Eric Taylor, will pay a price.

This season of Friday Night Lights is taking wonderful creative risks this year by having Eric work for East Dillon and his wife Tami Taylor run the more affluent school in West Dillon. My pop culture column this week on Mommy Tracked is all about really fantastic this fourth season is shaping up to be. (I’m about halfway through watching review copies of the fourth season.)

I was a big fan of the 1990 book, Friday Night Lights by Buzz Bissinger on which the show is based. The non-fiction book examined not just the mania that is Texas high school football, but issues of class, socio-economic differences, race and gender, as well as valuing sports more than academics in an economically depressed community. It was tough to read sometimes but much of it has stuck with me all these years later.

The TV show, inspired by the book, has always been good (with the exception of that Tyra-Landry murder business a while back), and I’ve always recommended that people watch it, even if they hate football. But this season it seems closer to the original source material than it ever has, and harder to watch on occasion, which is a very good thing. Maybe they'll finally get a well-deserved Emmy afterall . . .

This coming Friday’s episode, “After the Fall,” has Coach Taylor repenting for his decision to forfeit the game, plus, it hurls one big, giant mess into Principal Taylor’s lap, one that’s gonna cause a heap ‘o problems for her. Here’s NBC’s preview:

Image credit: NBC.

1 comment:

Bob Andelman said...

FNL fans might also enjoy this May 6, 2010 Mr. Media video interview with new “Lights” star Drew Waters, who plays Coach Wade Aiken on the show!