Friday Night Lights (DirectTV, The 101 Network, Wednesdays 9pm ET/PT) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
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Friday Night Lights

DirectTV, The 101 Network, Wednesdays 9pm ET/PT

Oct 28, 2009 Web Exclusive
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Warning: This review is geared toward those who are keeping up with the criminally under-watched Friday Night Lights and contains spoilers for new, but very welcome, converts.

Season Four starts with a handful familiar faces and episode one functions more as a transitional episode than a statement-making season premiere. Much as the town is now divided into East and West, the show has a split feel too. Coach Eric Taylor's new home in graffitied East Dillon High is grim. The school has a decrepit football field that is more dirt than dried up grass, and a team, the Lions, that aren't much better. Shambolic and aggressive-but not on the field where they need to bethis group of misfits are defiant and do not even finish their first game. Is Taylor (played by Kyle Chandler) really going to turn this thing around?

In contrast, West Dillon looks too flashy and too pompous. The school spirit that unavoidably transfers to the viewer is absent. Turns out it was the characters that inspired the loyalty, not the school. With none of the initial players part of the Panthers anymore, there is no commitment to the team. The one recognizable Panther, J.D. McCoy (Jeremy Sumpter), has done a complete about face, turning obnoxious and unrecognizable.

The scraps of the original cast left are in a sad state. Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford) is taking care of his ailing grandmother. Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) has no place to live. Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons) is the lone Panther among the Lions. Coach's daughter, Julie Taylor (Aimee Teegarden) has no friends. Coach Taylor is disheartened and his wife, Tami (Connie Britton) is torn. This pathetic state of affairswhich lends a disconnectedness to the castrather than alienate the viewer, gives them something to worry about and work towards.

Unlike shows who establish their characters and hammer their signature characteristics to death, Friday Night Lights keeps its realistic tone by moving them out of Dillonwhich was their original goal. There are arcs in place to transition viewers out of their relationships with Tyra Collette (Adrianne Palicki), Lyla Garrity (Minka Kelly), and Saracen, who is scheduled to leave despite present appearances. While the inevitable tears and the ongoing gap in their presence is painful (we are still mourning Smash's and Street's absence), these departures are what is going to keep the show fresh and relevant, not stale and contrived.

And there is fresh blood in the form of two new Lions players and two new hottie girls. Vince Howard (Michael B. Jordan), part of an outreach program, is grateful for the Lions, and Luke Cafferty (Matt Lauria), his opposite, is resentful of them. The new girls are Becky Sproles (Madison Burge), who meets Riggins as he is leaving her mother's bed, and Jess Merriweather (Jurnee Smollett), the new, ethnically diverse Lyla. These characters do not burst into the show pilot-style but are gradually worked in, getting introduced but the same way they would if you were to meet them in real life.

This real life quality of Friday Night Lights is what has kept its fans loyal, and continues to keep it as one of the more significant shows on the air/dish.



Author rating: 7/10

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Average reader rating: 9/10


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Jeff Pecot
November 3rd 2009


November 10th 2009

This is ridiculous that this great show was put on DirecTV that most people can’t watch!!!! What were they thinking??

March 10th 2010

films continues to grow