Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Deep Thoughts on Friday Night Lights...

When NBC announced they were producing a TV version of Friday Night Lights, I didn't even, for one second, consider watching it. I love football and all, but...I figured the odds were good that this would just be a 'lowest common demoninator' type of show, with crazy, unrealistic characters and far overdone football scenes (like Varsity Blues, only taking itself seriously). However, I started hearing good things about it, and The Butterfly and I watched one of the FNL rerun marathons over the Christmas break, and we were hooked.

It was nothing like what I expected. Realistic characters (including some that are relatively normal-looking...the males, anyway), absolutely fantastic acting, not-so-overdone football scenes...granted, they were still unrealistic (I think they won a game on the last play by running a sweep from 50 yards out...that just doesn't happen), but they weren't unwatchable.

About the cast for a moment: the movie version of Friday Night Lights was on TV this weekend, and I was reminded a) just how mediocre Billy Bob Thornton was in the movie role of the coach, and b) just how unbelievable Kyle Chandler is in the TV role. His chemistry with Connie Britton (the only actress who can legitimately play Irish and Texan...and I guess I should mention that she's getting hotter with age) is the key to the show, and it's fantastic. The subtleties of their interactions bring realism to the insanity that is small town Texas football. Most of the high school characters (in particular, Zach Gilford as unlikely starting QB Matt Saracen and Jesse Plemons as his nerd best friend, Landry) are rock-solid, but Chandler and Britton carry the show and make you care.

Of course, being that it's not a 'lowest common demoninator' show means that ratings haven't been all that great (which is about right, really...I watch it, which means nobody else will...we can't all be trendsetters like berlin niebuhr, who was creepily hooked on telenovelas before anybody else)...which was why it was fantastic to see this:

NBC's "Friday Night Lights" are shining brighter.

A day before the freshman series' season finale, the network on Tuesday ordered six additional scripts of the critically praised but low-rated series.

While this is short of the early second-season order NBC recently bestowed on another struggling rookie, the comedy "30 Rock," the order does strengthen "Friday"'s chances for a return next season.
I realize there's always the need for a new Law & Order or reality show and all, but I thought the point of the spectacle-type shows (like the 26 weekly Deal or No Deal episodes and spinoffs) was to have the money to be able to carry the respectable shows as well?

How naive am I?