27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on April 2, 2008
It pains me to give this show anything less than five stars. Like many, though not all, who watch this show, I loved the first season, even going out on a limb to say it is one of the best single seasons of television I have ever seen, if not the best.
But the second season falters as soon as it begins, in the lead off episode. And, if you have yet to watch this season, please stop reading here, as I will be giving away some spoliers and what have you and I do not want to ruin anything for you.
The murder subplot that ran through parts of the season is simply inane. It feels false, unfocused, and brings every episode that it is featured to a dramatic hault. What's strange is it this sort of sensationlism that the show avoided in it's first year. Other subplots--- such as Jason Street's little trip to Mexico--- also feel false and uninspired, the work of the writers trying to amp ratings to keep the show on the air.
The season smooths out as it goes along however, and after a few episodes the show returns to it's past glory. The acting, like previously, is universally strong (how Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton, amongst others in the cast, cannot get nominated for more awards is astounding and ridiculous to me), and the story lines alternate between amusing (Tim Riggins continues attempts to woe Lyla Garrity) to heart breaking (pretty much anything dealing with Smash Williams and Matt Seracen).
The attempt to get higher ratings is totally okay with me. A decent "Friday Night Lights" is still better than most shows best hours. And though this season falters at the start, it ends strong and, sadly, far to abruptly.
'Friday Night Lights" second season may not be as strong as it's first, but I'm sure nothing could have been. But it is still a compelling, often brilliant collection of episodes, and essential for fans of the show, book or movie.
81 of 98 people found the following review helpful
Update: FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS has been saved!!! I promised to keep posting updates on FNL and I finally have an exciting one. Multiple sources are now reporting that FNL will be renewed for a 3rd Season! According to Mike Ausiello, a deal with DirectTV is in place, but not signed. To their credit, NBC, although they knew they would no longer broadcast the series exclusively, went out and sought a partner to keep the series alive. It isn't clear yet how the deal will work, but most likely DirectTV will pay NBC for the rights to broadcast new episodes first and then NBC will rebroadcast them a few days later. I personally hope that DirectTV will show it earlier in the week and NBC on Friday evening. It just seems appropriate. So, if this story is true, FNL truly has been saved. I'll come back later an reedite my review as a whole, excising completely the memory that we very nearly lost this brilliant show.
I write this only a few minutes after the final episode of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was broadcast on NBC. This past week Ben Silverman, who took over as the head of NBC this past summer, threw ice water in the faces of all those who hoped that this extraordinary series might have a future on NBC. For years NBC has been my favorite network, just as FOX, which has killed shows at the drop of a hat, was my least favorite. The irony is that the former head of NBC, who was responsible for keeping such critically acclaimed shows (but ratings challenged) like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, THE OFFICE, and 30 ROCK is now one of the powers that be at FOX, while my formerly favorite network is threatening to pull the plug on this absolutely brilliant series.
Here is the situation as we know it: although 22 episodes were contracted for the 2007-2008 season, only the 15 episodes that were completed before the strike will be broadcast and no new episodes will be made this spring. Tonight's episode is the end of Season Two for certain. And given Ben Silverman's gruesome statements (in essence he was asked repeatedly and pointedly about FNL, but each time deflected the question instead talking about how great 30 ROCK is -- other NBC insiders say FNL is dead at NBC).
Before I write about Season Two it is fair to ask, is there any hope for FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS? According to Mike Ausiello at TV Guide, many people inside the industry still believe in FNL. There is a chance that it could resurface on another network. Surely the CW could use a teen-oriented show this extraordinary. It would instantly become the best show on the CW by a gigantic margin. Heck, it would immediately become the best show on Showtime or HBO if they were to pick it up.
In the meantime, what can we do? One thing we all can do is buy these DVDs! Right now multiple sources are reporting that the DVDs will be released in April 2008. That is not very far into the future. If you haven't bought Season One, do so immediately. Right now it costs only $18.99 on Amazon. That is dirt cheap for one of the very best shows on TV! The other thing you can do is hit the FNL boards and see what kind of fan organized Save FNL efforts are taking place. If a show like JERICHO, which is 20% as good as FNL, can be saved, surely a show as splendid as this one can as well.
Last year I told everyone I knew that this was the best show on network TV. A couple of shows on cable -- BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and THE WIRE -- were as good or better, but nothing else on ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX could top it (though LOST at its best could come close). This year I feel that it was one of the two best shows, along with the utterly extraordinary PUSHING DAISIES. To be honest, Season Two is not quite as good as Season One. There were a couple of missteps, but they were not fatal (well, one of them within the context of the show was literally fatal, since it concerned an instance of accidental murder) to the show. Most of the things that made the show so brilliant in Season One either continued at the outset of Season Two or returned within a few episodes of the start.
In brief, the situation at the start of Season Two was this: Coach Taylor has left Dillon High School to become an assistant coach at TMU (Texas Methodist University) in Austin. His wife Tami has given birth to Little Gracie as she is called. The state champ Dillon Panthers are not flourishing under their new head coach. Finally, the utterly unpredictable romance between Landry (who has adopted as his personal philosophy the principle of WWRD, or "What would Riggins do?") seems to be evolving in unexpected ways when her stalker/attempted rapist from Season Two reappears while she is waiting for Landry outside a convenience store. Landry grabs a pipe and smashes his head in, killing him instantly. This plotline is in the opinion of most the weakest aspect of Season Two. The other is the way that Coach Taylor's job at TMU keeps him away from home for the first few episodes. But Buddy Garrity brokers a deal to fire the current coach and bring the increasingly discontent Taylor back to Dillon. And so on. The truth is that Season Two has a host of small story arcs, most of them brilliant, a couple of them amiss. But all in all this is a stunning season.
If you want a scene that demonstrates just how great this show could be at its best, there is no finer moment than the next to last episode. Saracen, who has been going through some really bad emotional times, has in an attempt to deal with his grief (his grandmother's live in nurse, with whom Matt has had an affair, has left the country) gotten profoundly drunk at a strip club with Riggins. When he is summoned to go to the hospital to get his grandmother, he is physically incapable of doing so. Coach Taylor gets them both home and then explodes in the direction of Matt, grabbing him, yelling at him, and throwing him in the shower, which he turns on him. Then Matt, sobbing, asks Coach Taylor why everyone he loves leaves him, asking if he is worthless. Taylor, completely stunned, tells him, "No, you're not worthless." It is an extraordinary scene, as Coach Taylor suddenly becomes aware of the unbearable amount of pain that Matt is experiencing.
My favorite part of Season Two might have been the ongoing, improbable, but mutually empowering relationship between school beauty/hot girl Tyra Collette and brainy Christian nice but ugly guy Landry Clarke. This is one of those relationships that makes a lot of unexpected sense. When the series started Tyra was basically one of the school sluts, a smart but underachieving girl dating teen drunkard Tim Riggins. But after Tami Taylor becomes the school counselor, she convinces Tyra that she can be more. Though her mother is an aging party girl and her sister a stripper, Tyra is motivated by Tami's confidence in her and goes to Landry for some tutoring. There is a fascinating divergence between Tyra and Riggins in the show. While Tim continues to struggle with drinking and other forms of irresponsibility, Tyra begins to do well in school and forms a healthy friendship with Landry, who idolizes her. Eventually they are thrown together by the stress of her stalker/attempted rapist, but it is still obvious that Landry is really, really good for her. But the brute fact is that Tyra is stunningly attractive while Landry is just not a good-looking guy. And she is from a bad family while Landry's dad is a sheriff. Still, you can tell that Tyra and Landry are really good for each other. One of my favorite moments of Season Two is when Landry's Dad asks Tyra, who is obviously way hotter than any woman than Landry should end up with, what she sees in him. She talks about his intelligence, his decency, his sense of humor. She helps his esteem while he provides her with a relationship better than any she has ever experienced. But two things intervene. First, Landry's Dad, concerned with the quality of Tyra's family, asks Tyra to stay out Landry's life. In one of the most heartbreaking moments of the season, Tyra tells Landry that it is absurd to think that they could be together and orders him to look in a mirror to know why. Meanwhile, she goes back to her car and begins sobbing hysterically. In the end, love conquers all. Some speculate that if the series had continued that Tyra wouldn't have stayed with Landry. But I see the central theme in her character the possibility of redemption. Just as I think she would continue to be serious about her studies, I think she would have stuck with Landry. In an earlier episode, just before Landry declared that anything between them was over, she told him she needed time, that she had never been in a real relationship before. When confronted with the possibility of losing Landry, she finally makes a commitment, even to the point of holding hands with him at school. Tyra is the great redemption story on FNL.
This show suffers from an embarrassment of riches. There are an almost endless number of tremendous storylines on the show. There is Smash Williams and the blows to his dreams. There is Buddy Garrity, who started off as a minor supporting character and grew to become one of the most appealing characters on the show. There is Lyla Garrity's discovery of Christianity (and her involvement with new boyfriend Chris, played by THE GILMORE GIRLS's Matt Czuchry) and Tim Riggins's ongoing pursuit of her. More to mention than there is room to mention.
If this show is dead, it releases a staggering amount of talent for other shows. Kyle Chandler should have won an Emmy last year for Best Actor in a Drama, just as Connie Britton should have won Best Actress. Canadian actor Taylor Kitch not only made a convincing Texan as Tim Riggins but also displayed wonderful acting talent as well as impossible good looks (my female friends all gush when they talk about Riggins, though they also want to give him a shampoo). Adrianne Palicki managed to communicate both incredible sexiness as Tyra and some vulnerability as she came to depend emotionally on Landry. It is so hard to portray strong and needy at the same time, but she pulled it off. I could go on, but it would entail naming every member of the cast.
BTW, series creator Peter Berg shows up in the series finale as Tami's former high school sweetheart. He is the guy Coach Taylor has a fight with near the end of the episode. A huge THANK YOU to him for developing this astonishing show. And a big THANK YOU to executive producer Jason Katims for doing such a magnificent job on this show. I worry sometimes about American TV. In the series finale there were constant gestures toward mediocrity. There was a persistent ad during FNL about a new NBC garbage show entitled MY DAD IS BETTER THAN YOUR DAD. And at the very end, after the last shot of Jason Street brought the series to a close, there were ads for ONE VERSUS ONE HUNDRED and AMERICAN GLADIATORS. What is wrong with America? What it is that makes trash like those three shows possible while a masterpiece like FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is left without a home? And what is wrong with NBC? As I mentioned above, this was formerly my favorite network. But now it seems driven to become as mediocre as CBS. Though in the end perhaps the problem is the American TV viewer. We get garbage on TV because Americans turn out en masses to watch garbage. Television is poised to give us some of the greatest popular works of art ever seen, but our culture won't sustain it because of our fascination with junk. We watch shows like VEGAS and TWO AND A HALF MEN and OCTOBER ROADS and let truly great shows die. In the end, maybe FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS was too good for us. Maybe we deserve the endless CSI and LAW AND ORDER spin offs. If we were worthy, we would have embraced FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. Maybe. Though NBC shares equal blame for not promoting this gem of a show by putting it in good time slots and promoting the heck out of it. Either way, the best show that NBC has is no more. Or at least is no longer on NBC.
I hope to god that this is not the end of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. I hope that the CW scrambles to pick it up. Or perhaps one of cable networks will try to make a home for it. All I know is this: FNL deserves a chance to tell more stories. We need to find out what happens to all these wonderful characters. American television needs to make a space for shows this good.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on April 29, 2008
Honestly, season 2 is a great season, but compared to season 1, it has its problems. Season 2 still has the great stories within stories, the serious tone mixed with the playful and humorous writing, and also the heart breaking moments smashed together with the shocking surprises. Even with the season's faults, it's still one of the `must see' TV shows out there.
I don't really want to bash one of my favorite shows, but I want to be honest with people who read this. There are many things that this season could've done better in my opinion. Certain stories just seemed out of place, or maybe even to grown up for just high school kids. For instance, ***Don't read this until you see the asterisk if you don't want to be spoiled.... For instance, when Landry and Tyra kill that guy, they decide to throw him in the river. Why? Why not just call the cops and explain to them what happened. They are just kids, and probably nothing will happen to them. Even if they waited to call the cops after they threw him in the river, they STILL would've probably have gotten off easy if they just claimed that they were scared and confused or whatever. And how come Landry is such a smart kid, yet he seemed like a TOTAL dummy when it came to confessing the murder. Seriously man... just say you were scared for yours and hers life. Goodness. *** I don't know... it just seemed like a forced story line that really got in the way of what is great about this show. Other things that aren't story spoilers that made me mad was Smash's Mom. Seriously...do you want your VERY TALENTED child who is one of the most wanted RB's to go to a college like Whitmore instead of Alabama or Georgia or Miami or USC? I mean... what are you thinking? Sure you want your kid to get an education, but wouldn't you rather him be worth millions if he can be for his sake and yours and his children? NFL and education... or...just education? I tell ya what... my cousin had a chance to play for the NHL. The Chicago Blackhawks. He decided to join the Navy and get an education instead. He got out after 4 years and lives a mediocre life now and wishes to God he had played for the Blackhawks. And then there is a race issue AGAIN. Not only once, but TWICE in this season and BOTH involve Smash again. Give it a rest will ya?
Now, it seems like I'm bashing this show, but I'm only listing things I didn't like and they are very few. Even with what I didn't like, it's STILL better than a lot of what's out there to watch. Anything dealing with Matt Saracen will have me glued. As well as Coach Eric Taylor. Some of the best TV involves these two characters whether they are in the same or not. I only wish Matt's parts were longer this season. I laughed pretty hard when Matt had to go pick Smash up under a bridge once. When he arrived, Smash had nothing on but boxer shorts (he had to run from a party so he didn't get his butt kicked by some psycho college kid). When he pulls up, he just starts laughing and then starts to talk and give Smash crap. It was a really funny part, but at the same time, a really great friendship part. Here's two kids, black and white, and they seems like the best of friends if not brothers.
Sadly this show was one of many that got hurt by the writers strike and you can tell at the end of the season. The show ends, but it's not truly a season ending. They leave you hanging with 2 games to state and many of the story lines not fully closed (or cliffhanger season ending closed at least). I was waiting for the next episode and then saw the menu screen. "You've got to be kiddin me" is what came out my mouth in pist offness.
Ah well. The show is still great even with it's faults. Every episode had me hooked and not wanting to sleep until I just saw `one more' episode. Recommended, but make sure you watch season 1 first.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Although through the first few episodes FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS remained one of the most compelling shows on TV, it had suffered a bit from some structural problems in its narrative. On the one hand, Coach Taylor was off at Texas Methodist University, making his ongoing involvement in the narrative a challenge. On the other hand, there was the unnecessarily melodramatic killing by Landry of Tyra Collette's Season One stalker/attempted rapist. The latter has been a problem because what made Season One so outstanding was how it felt like an encapsulation of real lives. The killing simply didn't feel real.
In my opinion the show always managed to overcome these missteps to remain a fascinating and engrossing show. But it did generate the sense that the season in some ways hadn't really begun. In this episode, however, Coach Taylor is back in Dillon, back in his old job, and returned to his family. And his return already seems to have helped several individuals. His wife Tami already seems less stressed. His daughter, who had been sorely tempted by the older bad boy known as The Swede, seems to have recovered her relationship with her mother, who gave her advice that may have helped Julie realize just how lame The Swede truly was. And he seems to have helped Buddy Garrity just as much. In the first three episodes Buddy seemed unsure of himself, rattled by the loss of his family as well as his status within the booster club. Here he is as confident as ever.
The delicious part about this episode, as with the series as a whole, was the sheer number of things that took place in it. The show in many ways breaks with much traditional TV writing. A typical episode will have an A plot and a B plot, though after HILL STREET BLUES in the early eighties, many shows would have multiple threads in an episode. But some episodes of FNL have 7 or 8 or 9 threads going at once. Yet, it doesn't come across as at all incoherent or muddled. I'd love to see how they organize their various arcs. I assume they have some sort of ongoing storyboard.
After being a major part of the first three episodes, the Tyra-Landry romance/murder ordeal played a somewhat smaller role in terms of time. Tyra does come to Landry's house for dinner, a nice touch. Though she has been increasingly attached to Landry, she has been somewhat unwilling to make their relationship obvious in public, let alone to her or his family. So this represents a big step, especially combined with her explanation in the previous episode to Landry's father why she likes Landry (a great scene because it was almost as if verbalizing to someone THAT and WHY she liked Landry caused her to realize just how much she had come to feel for him). While at dinner, however, Landry and Tyra overhear what they had been anticipating: the discovery of her assailant's body. I have no inside knowledge of what is going to happen on the show, but I think it is pretty clear that Landry is going to confess to what he did.
So, despite a couple of things that seems atypical for this remarkable show, FNL seems entirely back on track. These remain a collection of many of the best characters on television and the acting in this show can stand comparison with any other show. I'm still not too excited about it being scheduled on Friday, but it remains, along with PUSHING DAISIES (easily the best new show of the season) the one show I most look forward to each week.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 30, 2009
I was the most skeptical person when I first watched this television series. I'm not a fan of the movie, football, and generally I'm not a fan of dramas involving high school students. But that isn't what Friday Night Lights is about. FNL is about life and choices, struggles and celebrations.
Friday Night Lights will melt the coldest, most skeptical heart if you give it a chance. Simply put, it captures the true essence of not only small Texas football towns, but also the very bonds that tie people together. You will feel a part of the Taylor family. You're best friend will be Matt Saracen or Julie Taylor. You'll smile, laugh, and cry because the cast and show are so in sync with character development that they literally jump out of the screen and become a part of your life.
This is because of the freedom of movement the producers give the actors. The cameras and characters flow freely without rehersals, performing their roles passionately. As a result, you experience not merely a televised performance but a literal mirror into another world. From the opening soundtrack to the closing credits everything comes so natural: the music, scene, and people are so authentic it literally breaks primetime telivision molds.
The only complaint you could possibly make with Season 2 is how short it is and how the season finale comes almost mid-story. Forgive them for this, the writer's strike was unavoidable, and put this show on what could have been a very unfortunate end to the series. Luckily, a deal for Season 3 came through and we'll experience Dylon, TX for at least one more year. Cross your fingers for more seasons to come!
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2008
Season two of this incredible, realistic, heartfelt drama proved FNL could be consistently great. The writers built upon last years stellar season and created fresh new storylines. Every single actor on this show has done a scene worthy of an emmy, they're that good! The writing and acting is outstanding every single week. If NBC cancels this show they will be making a huge mistake and letting go of one of the few truly fantastic shows on television today. Please check out the website savefridaynightlights.tv for information on how to save this show!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 9, 2013
FriIday Night Lights is, without a doubt, one of the greatest, most emotionally charged shows I have ever seen. Seasons 1, 3, 4 and 5 are utterly astounding and prove that television, when done right, resembles great literature. The character development of this show is, in my opinion, the best we're likely to see, giving even minor, side characters nuanced, lived in personalities.
So having said that, I am utterly at a loss when it comes to explaining what happened with Season 2. While there are lovely, wonderful. moments here and there that still have that trademark FNL emotional sucker punch, but it is several notches below every other season. Given the fact that the writers of the show almost never made major mistakes, and are brilliant and magical in 99% of the rest of the series, I can't figure out what happened here.
And frankly, the murder subplot that so many criticize is one of the BETTER story arcs this season; at least it brought two of the shows most beloved characters (Landry and Tyra) together, and allowed them to display truly magnificent acting. Matt Saracen, who is one of the best, most likable characters in television history, almost never is seen with his best friend anymore (Landry), and the writers waste several episodes on the utterly pointless "Latin nurse" disaster. Even Zach Gilford (the actor who plays Matt) acknowledged that this was his least favorite plot of the entire series.
Thankfully, Season 2 is practically a stand alone season that can essentially be skipped, as even the writers seem to, in hindsight, recognize that none of the stories had the emotionally appeal that this show is so excellent at and write Seasons 3, 4, and 5 as though this season never happened.
Bewildering. But again, aside from this season FNL is as good as it gets.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on June 22, 2008
With significantly less football in the second season and much more drama its hard not to feel that FNL has followed in the same footsteps as many other teen-based shows. In the first season almost all the drama of the show revolved around football, making it a stand-out from other teen dramas, that are centred around coming of age stories. The second season is much more coming of age, with character development occuring almost entirely outside the football arena. A new arrival on the show, Santiago, brought the possibility of exploring how football and community based sports can help children from violent backgrounds assimilate back into a normal life but has been barely touched on, though this may have been due to the interuptions caused by the writer's strike. Similarly, Streets' recovery and adjustment into life in a wheelchair is also a minor storyline this season, with one one or two episodes touching on the problems this character faces as he finds himself floundering after the loss of his football college dreams. In fact, the characters from season one, who interacted so well together then, have now been split off into seperate storylines, each hardly intersecting with the others. This season, while still very good, lacks the grit and guts of the first season, but hopefully there is still time to recover.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 1, 2008
I love this show. I bought the first series on DVD, then watched the whole 22 episodes in five days. I was so hooked, I took a day off work to watch the whole of Season 2 straight through. What a disappointment. Second seasons are always hard, and you have to give credit to the writers for taking chances. Unfortunately, the risks don't pay off. The writing in this season doesn't compare to Season 1. Stupid, stupid storylines.......turn away now if you don't want spoilers. How ridiculous was the Landry/Tyra murder plot? Riggins having to move in with ferret keeping meth dealer? Jason going to Mexico to get injected with shark stem cells to walk again? Dreadful! Obviously they threw everything into Season 1, assuming the show wasn't coming back, then when the show got renewed they had to start with a blank page, and it really shows. Season Three will be make or break for FNL. If they get back to the level of Season 1, this show has the potential to be huge. If we get another Season like this one, it'll be the last. And more Matt Saracen! My favourite character by a mile, and his scene with Coach in the second to last episode is far and away the best moment of the whole season. Watch this only if you're a fan, if you're starting make sure you're watching Season 1 first............
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2008
Alas another great show faces extinction. What is wrong with America, I am so tired of REALITY shows. Give me a good drama with REAL emotion any day. Hopefully a deal comes through and we get FNL back for another season. I got everyone I know to watch FNL and they are all fans now, and all mad at me for getting them hooked on something GOOD which is facing the chopping block. WAKE UP NBC, stop trying to be like the other networks, set yourself apart, grow some cajones and be different. You have shows like Medium,ER,FNL, and..........come on now surprise us...