28 December 2006

Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!

They say it's the best show no one is watching. In truth, Friday Night Lights (FNL) isn't a ratings puller. But despite that, it amazingly is on a number of Top 10 TV Show lists this year... which is why I opted to check it out.

Early this week, I saw one episode and even before the show started, my mind was set to put it back on my watchlist for viewing "sometime later", thinking it's a sports show I'm not gonna be able to relate to.

I ended up watching all ten episodes in two nights.

I get football...thanks to a little invention called the Playstation and a video game called Madden, I am able to understand how a football game goes even when I've not seen one with real players on a real football field. I know football is big in States. I just didn't realize it was THAT big, that there's even a whole town of fanatics devoted to it. The town of Dillon, Texas, the setting of FNL, which is really just a fictional place for the show, was inspired by Odessa, Texas --- a big football-crazed town, where the original movie, FNL (same director/producer as the TV show) is also based from.

Anyway, the FNL primer:

What is it about?

A drama series covering high school Football... its players and coaches; their friends and family, their lives and relationships, pains, joys, mistakes and triumphs. It is set in a rural town of Dillon Texas, where everyone from the mayor, down to that token geeky high school student, treat football as a serious matter.

What's it like?
Here are the adjectives that people have used to describe the show:


- The characters are normal people, that even if you don't like or understand football, you can supposedly relate to them.
- The actors are very natural with their performances. On top on that list is Tami, the coach's wife.
- The TV show is shot documentary style (sort of like The Shield or maybe even NYPD Blue.... or if you've seen the football movie --- Any Given Sunday) where the camera is angled at some really interesting but unconventional shots, like so:

How many episodes so far?
As of December 2006, 10 so far. It has been ordered full season airing by NBC, so that means there's about 12 or 13 more to go?

Why would I watch it?
Because you might be tired of TV shows that follow the same formula as LOST (mystery) or PRISON BREAK (suspense) or have characters ala-HOUSE. FNL doesn't have a lot of confusing story weaving, nor the same amount of suspense as these other shows, nor dysfunctional characters. It is a drama series, but it's not so over the top that you can actually relate to it.


Eric Taylor
- played by Kyle Chandler. You may remember him from the Early Edition, or that bomb expert that blew up on Grey's Anatomy. He's lead coach for the Dillon panthers for the first time, and a football coach in this town is like being a housemate on Big Brother --- all eyes are watching him.

Tami Taylor
- played by Connie Britton. You may remember her from 24, Season 5. She played Jack Bauer's secret identity's girlfriend. Tami is the guidance counselor of the school, and plays an integral part in this whole system. The coach takes care of the games, she takes care of the kids' well-being outside the game.

Julie Taylor
- played by Aimee Teegarden. I thought she was that little girl in Cat in the Hat or some Mike Myers movie I cannot remember. Turns out, she's a fresh face, just like most of them. She has a strong resemblance to local star, Angelica Panganiban. While her parents are so immersed in the game, she chooses to have little to do with it. Until she starts dating Matt Saracen, the new team captain/quarterback.

Matt Saracen
- played by Zach Gilford. New actor. He used to just be the back-up quarterback, sort of like the understudy. He isn't as good as the original team captain, Jason Street, who met an unfortunate accident in the very first episode. Saracen is still raw, but he's very determined. He also is such a gentleman and maybe even a dork...not at all like the typical quarterback. Matt is left to care for his grandmother, who is showing signs of Alzheimers, while his dad is in Iraq.

Jason Street
- played by Scott Porter. New actor to prime time. He was on the Daytime telenovela, As The World Turns. Everyone was counting on Street to win the crown for the team this season. Until he fell and had his spine injured on their very first game. He is now paralyzed from the waist down and is spending his time in rehab, while participating in Special Olympics for the crippled (is that what's it called?). He has a girlfriend who, apparently cheated on him with his best friend.

Lyla Garrity
- played by Minka Kelly. She reminds me of some other actress, I can't just put a finger on it. Winnie from Wonder Years, maybe? Anyway, acting wise, she's the weakest of this cast. Lyla is the all-american girl. Cheerleader, beauty and brains, the perfect daughter, a perfect student, leading a pretty perfect life and has planned to marry Jason eventually and be the perfect housewife. All that changed after Jason's accident. At first she chose to tie herself down to her crippled boyfriend, optimistic that he will soon recover and would be able to walk again. But she is under pressure from what seemed to be a bleak future with Jason... confused, this led Lyla to sleep with Tim Riggins, Jason's best friend. When the school found out about it, she no longer is little miss perfect.

Tim Riggins
- played by Taylor Kitsch. New actor, former model. Hot. Tim is messed up, an alcoholic, whose male authority figure in the house is an older brother who isn't exactly a role-model. Despite all these, Tim is devoted to his best friend. He couldn't accept Jason Street's fate and for a time, avoided going to the hospital because he knew he was going to break down (he did). He is also secretly in love with his best friend's girlfriend, Lyla.He plays fullback for the Dillon Panthers. He is also involved with Tyra, the town's hot girl.

Tyra Collete
- played by Adrianne Palicki. You may remember her from Smallville, as Kara. I don't exactly know what's Tyra's purpose in this show is, as Tim's sexy girlfriend who doesn't really care much for football. She provides eye candy though.

Brian Smash Williams
- played by Gaius Charles. Also a new actor. He serves as the running back. He currently dreams of grabbing a scholarship at a good college, so he can potentially go pro, help his family and make big bucks. When he failed to impress a scout because he was "small", he decides to take illegal medication to boost himself. As of the moment, the coach still hasn't discovered this. He comes from a very religious family, and is about to date the pastor's daughter.

Best line so far, probably sums up what this show is about:

Tami to husband Eric, the coach: "You know what the problem is, it's this town baby, this town makes these teenage kids into idols. And then they get out of here and everybody's not just giving them something all the time, they don't know what to do if they fall flat on their faces, it's a shame."

Icons downloaded from the official FNL site on NBC.
ETC, a local cable channel, will air this show soon. Teasers are already airing.