on February 15, 2010
I just finished watching the last episode of Season 4 - it has been an amazing season. While I did miss some of the show's regular characters, the addition of new characters and new story lines is simply a reflection of reality. People move in and out of our lives all the time, we meet new people, we lose track of others. As much as I adore the people in Dillon Texas and irrationally think of them as real people, I don't know if I've ever been moved so deeply as I have been this season watching new character Vince. I wanted to reach in through the screen and give him a hug and tell him that he was doing the right thing and that I was proud of him. That's how real this amazing young actor was. The story's shift to a less affluent side of town was also eye-opening and dramatic. Coach and Tammy Taylor continue to show us the most natural and real depiction of married life on television. I just can't say enough good things about this show. I'm so grateful that DirectTV and NBC continue to bring this to us. I consider the best show on the air - on any network - and still can't understand why it apparently has such a limited following, unless people are scared off thinking it's just a sports show. Friday Night Lights is not about football; it's about life, the choices we make, and our struggles to do our best. Looking forward to it finally making its way to NBC in April and will be first in line to purchase the season DVDs when they become available.
on May 27, 2010
The writers had quite a task in Season 4 in a short 13-episode season. Unlike so many of the teenage shows, FNLs actually allows its key young actors to move on, sometimes come back ... just as in real life. And it introduces new characters into the lives of the people of Dillon. This coming and going of people in their lives is just as it is in high schools across America.
Season 4 centers around Coach Taylor's exile to dilapidated East Dillon High school, while his beloved wife, Tami, remains Principal of Dillon High. The re-districting creates a schism between the Taylors, the Panthers and the Lions, the students of the 2 schools, the Boosters, and the town make for some interesting story-telling. It also creates a further schism between the races and economic classes ... the "haves" and the "have nots." This season mirrors the Great Recession where everyone but a very few struggles. Tami is now the major breadwinner in their family, Coach is still out on a 2 year "non-compete" from his contract with TMU, there are no jobs in Dillon. Buddy is no longer the richest man in Dillon, as his car dealership struggles. The richest man is now Joe McCoy, the Stud of Suds. (In real life, beer sales are in fact at an all time high during this recession ... so this seems very fitting). McCoy is oblivious to the suffering of others, as his family is unaffected and his eye remains on making his son the greatest quarterback in the history of Texas.
This divide is going to cause the same conflict that so many re-districted towns experience ... all anchored this season by the Coach and his family. The writers throw everything but the kitchen sink at Taylors this season(as well as some other key characters). As Coach said in the Pilot episode, now, they will all be tested. In the backdrop of this unrelenting economy ... I thought the writers did an excellent job of tapping into what is happening in America today ... how we are all being tested.
This season plays special homage to Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins, in the same thoughtful way that Smash and Jason Street were showcased in special episodes. Compelling new characters are introduced, most noteworthy: Vince, Jesse, and Luke. An episode called "The Son," is one of the stand out episodes of the entire 4 years of the show.
This was a lot for the writers to take on in 13 episodes. For the most part, I thought they were very successful! In fact, I put this season on par with Season 1 in terms of story-telling, acting, casting. In my very honest opinion, Kyle Chandler, Connie Britton, and Zach Gilford (for 'The Son') are deserving of the Emmy for their performances in Season 4 ... not the nomination, but the actual statues themselves. They turned in outstanding performances, time and time again. Taylor Kitsch, Brad Leland, and Amy Teagarden also turn in some very, very fine performances.
on February 21, 2010
***Spoiler Free Review of the Season***
The fourth season of Friday Night Lights was fantastic! It's a very important season of transition for the show as it attempts to move from the show we knew into the show it has to become. Rather than allow it to become a standard drama that repeats the same stories with the same characters the writer's decided to work on having characters we love move on in realistic fashion at the same time as they introduced us to and tried to make us care for new ones. To help ease the transition the writers wisely cheat to keep familiar faces Landry and Julie around for one more year of high school. Meanwhile Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins are both still struggling to get their lives started this season and they each hold some of it's strongest scenes in a season partially designed to give their amazing characters proper send off.
The show can never exist without the continued presence of Eric and Tammy Taylor at it's core to hold all the pieces together. This year finds the happily married couple facing much more daunting issues and problems than they have in any previous season. They constantly struggle to keep their lives, and the lives of the kids around them together. All the while Eric and Tammy seem to be continually punished by the community simply for doing what's right. The best thing about the Taylor's is rather than dealing with conflict within their relationship the writers keep them a united loving couple dealing with external conflict caused by life, which is much more relatable and realistic.
The fourth season consists of thirteen very strongly crafted episodes spanning one high school football season in the town of Dillon:
East of Dillon
After the Fall
In the Sking of a Lion
A Sort of Homecoming
The Son (*Fantastic Episode, deserves an Emmy)
In the Bag
Lights of Carrol Park
Special Features Included On This Set:
- Deleted Scenes
- Peter Berg Intros: Three short interviews with Peter Berg as he talks about directing the season premiere, the unique shooting style of the show and where this season starts off.
- Commentary on 'East of Dillon' by Executive Producer Jason Katims
- Friday Night Lights...Camera, Action! - A featurette that goes on set and finds the cast and crew discussing the unique shooting style and the amazing staying power of this fan adored show. (Runs just over 7 minutes)
- New Faces, New Places - A featurette that explores the new characters on the cast by talking to the actors who play them and Jason Katims. (Again runs just over 7mins)
- Playbook - Learn more about the shooting of a football game scene for Friday Night Lights. Cast and crew discuss the work and some of the complications that go into creating game scenes. (Runs just under 5mins)
The special features are great and will be entertaining for any fan of the series to watch. While I wish there was more that doesn't mean we aren't getting our money's worth. I do however strongly wish there had been some mention to the individual storylines they crafted for the season, and I would have loved commentary on episodes 'The Son' and 'Thanksgiving'. Still, I'm very happy with what we're given here knowing that they made these special features specifically to please the shows die hard fans.
There are a lot of new faces this year with Vince, Luke, Becky and Jess but I find them to be great replacements for the cast that has moved on and honestly feel they hold just as strong storytelling possibilities as the original cast did. Vince is a complex character who slowly earns our respect. He and Jess already clearly have unspoken history together and Becky and Luke by seasons end have gone through one of the most difficult experiences that two teens can go through. Though no one will ever replace Matt Saracen as a wonderfully crafted and instantly likable character, these characters quickly grow on you.
I have always loved this show, even in the messy parts of season two, but this year was particularly great. They were able to tell so many different levels of stories and all while keeping the drama involved in them at a completely realistic level. In comparison with the fantastic first season of the series that taught us the uplifting message that "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can't Lose" this season goes out of it's way to teach us in the same uplifting way that "Clear Eyes, Full Hearts Can Lose" but what matters is how you deal with it and how you let it define you from there.
As the show moved to DirecTV and 13 episode seasons I found the writing return to the greatness we expected in the first season and with the excellent handheld camerawork and character acting that makes you feel as if you are right there watching what you feel are real people, Friday Night Lights now feels like a cable series that could become as great as The Sopranos, The Wire, Mad Men or Breaking Bad. This is a fantastic show and I'm ecstatic that this season has been released on DVD with some special features. It gets better each time I view it.
Hopefully many others will buy this set and watch the fifth season too, thanks for your time.
*On a small note I'm usually okay when shows have to change music for a DVD release but was really disappointed that they had to change Bob Dylan's "Don't think twice, it's alright" to another song at the end of episode 'Stay'. Guess I'll keep my downloaded version of that episode. Several other songs are also replaced with sound alike music and usually at key moments, just a heads up.
on August 21, 2010
Everything that makes 'Friday Night Lights,' 'Friday Night Lights' is present in this season. Interesting characters, entertaining stories, gripping drama, touching relationships, and, last but sort of least, thrilling football moments. I haven't enjoyed a season quite this much since the first (though the third is a close runner up).
Some of the stand-out episodes of the series came during this season, particularly "The Son," "I Can't," and "Thanksgiving" -- all of which feature some exceptional writing and memorable performances. In a pleasant surprise, the new characters fit in quite well, and as the season progressed, I found myself rooting for them right along with the old favorites. It's great to see so many of the veteran characters and relationships given due attention and proper tributes, and it's also good to watch some nice new bonds develop. My favorite interactions were between Tim and newcomer Becky (Madison Burge, who gives a great performance in "I Can't"), a spunky, slightly younger girl who develops romantic feelings for him. This amounted to a charming, awkward, and touching bond that helped to develop both characters, further highlighting just how much Tim's matured since the show began.
Other newcomers include the brooding but noble Vince, the imperfect but dedicated Luke, and the mature, good-spirited Jess -- along with the welcome returns of Matt, Julie, and Landry. Alongside Tim and Becky, the collective group of younger characters interact quite well with each other, making for some decent love triangles (of the tolerable, well-handled variety), and well-nurtured friendships.
Amidst it all, the grown-ups are kept just as prominent and sympathetic as ever. Coach Eric Taylor is still written as a great motivator and mentor, on and off the field, while Principal Tami Taylor remains a sensitive, noble figure who I found myself rooting for more than ever by season's end.
When all is said and done, 'Friday Night Lights' is likely to be remembered as one of the great television accomplishments. It's one of those rare shows -- not unlike the original 'Degrassi' or 'Once and Again' -- that captures the hardships and joys of the human condition in a rare, special kind of way.
on July 16, 2014
Many of the greatest television dramas, I've noticed, tend to lose some of their brilliance by the fourth season. Some of my favorite recent series, such as "The Sopranos" and "Six Feet Under," share this in common: The fourth season is generally regarded as the weakest of the shows' runs. "Friday Night Lights," however, is a HUGE exception to this trend. Season 4 is simply astonishing in every way, and a major achievement in the pantheon of television history.
FNL's 4th season is the first time the show has been able to render a full season without the uncertainty of returning, as it was renewed after season 3 for two full seasons. By the way, the mere fact that FNL remains, to my mind, one of the only shows to ever be renewed based exclusively on merit and quality (and not ratings) is a testament to how glorious it is. It's as though everyone attached knew the gift they were given with this season and poured their hearts into these 13 episodes, which stand as masterpieces in writing, acting, and filming.
Season 4 brings four new main cast members into the fold, and it does so in such a seamless, beautiful manner that it's almost difficult to understand. This is a show that does character development better than almost any other show, and to take away several beloved original cast members with new ones seems, on paper, to be a show destroyer. But man this show nailed it, with its meticulous attention to detail, making sure the new lives are just as fleshed out and just as important.
Adding to the equation is that FNL gives phenomenal send offs to departing characters, and Matt Saracen (one of the most likable characters ever created) is offered "The Son," perhaps the greatest episode this show ever produced (and certainly one of TV's all time best). This episode is a wonderful example of the power of careful character development, resulting in some of the most gut wrenching, captivating and electrifying moments I've ever watched.
Like all of FNL's seasons, the emotional intensity is unparalleled. Who would have known that a show ostensibly about high school football would be the most powerful, raw and at times exhausting drama on television? As many critics have said, Friday Night Lights often feels like being put through the ringer, because it is not afraid to portray soul crushing disappointment. When this happens to characters as loved as the ones on this show, the results can be devastatingly rich. Season four is the darkest and most emotional, but the pain is so exquisitely crafted it just feels great.
I can't recommend this show or this season enough.
on March 2, 2011
This is smart television at it's best. I never thought I would get hooked to a series, but I watched all four seasons over the past month. The characters are rich and the writing is excellent...the Lost Son episode is particularly moving. I'm sad to hear the series is discontinued.
on September 27, 2011
This remarkable series continues to surprise. It is years ahead of its time and will be judged a classic in retrospect more than competing in the vacuous crowded market of the TV of today. Yet I have to say, this series begins the show the cracks of a series that has lost too many of its great original characters. Even though Zack Gilford makes nine appearances in this season, the loss of so many of the others is hugely felt and sadly the new recruits just dont have the stories that are as interesting. (this affects things even more in season five until many of the originals return to farewell the series).
Taylor Kitsch is wonderful and he makes the season worthwhile and the episode "The Son"is the best episode of the entire season (why Gilford didnt win an Emmy for this is inexcusable), also good as Michael Jordan is, there is too much emphasis on his story and crime and bad guys start to make it all look too much like a cop show. A lot of people didnt like the murder storyline in season two, yet I find the endless amount of crime and consequences changes the series too much in this season.
Kitsch, Gilford, Scott Porter were the heart of the young cast and without Porter, less of Gilford and Kitsch written out for most of season five diffuses what is and remains a very strong series.
on October 20, 2014
Amazing show, great season! This show is simply incredible for the writing, the acting, everything. I did not know Texas, I do not even like football, but I fell in love with characters and the East Dylan Lions! This show is a truly great achievement as a TV series! Do not miss it! When it was over, I was sorry I was not going to get to visit every night with the unforgettable characters of this wonderful show...
on February 27, 2014
I've just finished watching this season for the second time. I watched the entire series by myself four years ago and am nearly finished re-watching it from the start with my wife. I love it just as much the second time through, if not more...
Losing several central characters and introducing several new ones is a major challenge/risk for any series and I remember starting this season thinking “what a load of bull**** where’s Jason?, where the f*** is Lyla?” etc etc but the truly amazing thing about this season is that not only do you end up loving and rooting for the new characters but the story’s are again so heartbreakingly real and profound that you quickly don’t have time to miss anyone as you become completely absorbed and mesmerised by this new time this new place in the coach and Tammy’s lives.
As much as I hate change, this was one change I begrudgingly came to accept. Another phenomenal season from one of the best show’s of all time.
on May 31, 2013
Do yourself a favor and own it today.
The writing, the casting, the acting - highest quality I've ever experienced on TV.
The best drama I've ever had the pleasure of viewing.
I've marathoned all the seasons 5 times - it never gets old.
It is an absolute delight to visit Dillon, Texas and these characters.
Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can't Lose!