79 of 81 people found the following review helpful
Warning! Spoilers galore! Do NOT read this review if you have not seen all of Season 3!
Season Three of FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS represents one of the most interesting attempts ever to keep a great, but lightly watched series alive. After Season One the series was renewed primarily based on the huge critical acclaim the show received along with its intensely dedicated, though small (though I would like to think growing) fan base. I honestly thought that after Season One it was going to sweep the Emmys, garnering a host of awards that would propel it to the next tier in public consciousness, much like what happened to another series that debuted in the fall of 2006, 30 ROCK. For some unfathomable reason it did not receive a single major Emmy nomination. It did go on, however, to win what have come to be the three most reliable indicators of quality TV. It won a Peabody award, something that most Emmy winners never receive. It won Salon's annual Buffy award, given to the best show neglected by the Emmys (named after the greatest TV series never to receive Emmy attention). And it was named one of the ten best shows on TV by the American Film Institute. Fans of the show watched in horror as clearly inferior shows like BOSTON LEGAL, GREY'S ANATOMY, HOUSE M.D., and HEROES got recognition that continued to escape.
Still, fans hoped that Season Two would see an increased audience share. NBC hoped that moving it to Friday night (the night that most people assumed it was airing) would help. It didn't and its ratings slipped further. Normally a show with the kind of ratings FNL had would simply have been cancelled. Much to NBC's credit, they decided to take new steps to save the series. They arranged with DirecTV to have that network air the thirteen episodes of Season Three in the fall of 2008 (when many of us were lucky enough to see it), with NBC showing it in the winter and spring of 2009. According to some rumors, DirecTV was happy with the results and is interested in continuing with another season of the show. I've seen no reports on how NBC is thinking (though the head of programming for NBC Universal did, in response to a question about FNL's chances for a Season Four, said that there would continue to be a place on the NBC schedule for quality shows with a smaller audience share). In a recent interview FNL creator and executive producer Peter Berg said that the decision to continue could be as much their decision as the networks. Suffice it to say that at this point it isn't at all clear that there will be a Season Four and possibly just because Berg and show runner Jason Katims may decide not to continue.
The reason for Season Four being in doubt is very easy to see. There is a major creative question about where to take the series in a fourth season. Many of the key characters on the show for the past three seasons have graduated. At the very least, Tyra, Riggins, Lyla, and Matt are out of high school. There is debate about whether or not Landry is a senior or junior. Spoiler alert! At the end of Season Three it appears that those four are going to four different schools, Tyra to University of Texas (where Landry could certainly go if he is a senior), Riggins to the fictitious San Antonio State, and Lyla to Vanderbilt, while Matt's college plans are murky. Coach Taylor's plans were not in granite, though he was clearly confronted with a very different situation if the show continues. Apart from Julie (and possibly Landry, if he is indeed a junior), there are no established high school characters continuing on the show and no high school football players. There are three major possibilities. One is to start from scratch with Coach Taylor at the heart of things and introduce a host of new characters. A second is to introduce new high school players for Coach Taylor while continuing to follow the characters we've come to love over the past three years. This would be especially easy in Tyra's case (and possibly in Landry's if he is a senior) since she is attending UT and the show is actually filmed in Austin. The third possibility is to have Coach Taylor take a coaching job at, say, San Antonio State, where Riggins already is, and perhaps find a way to get Matt, Landry, Tyra, and Lyla all to go there for whatever reason they can think up. A fourth possibility would be for the show to say goodbye to Riggins, Tyra, Matt, Lyla, and possibly Landry in a series of episodes like they did in Season Three with Smash and Jason. One thing is clear: if they have a Season Four, it will be utterly unlike the first three seasons of the show.
Season Three of FNL just might be my favorite so far. I loved Season One, continued to enjoy the show even with some iffy moments (along with several glorious ones) in Season Two, but I was just blown away by Season Three. There were not merely no weak episodes in Season Three, but few weak moments. The way I expressed my love for FNL to a friend is that while BATTLESTAR GALACTICA is my favorite show on TV and probably has 20 episodes that I think are better than the best episode of FNL, BSG also probably has 20 episodes worse than the weakest episode of FNL. FNL is just an absurdly consistent show. It may not have BSG's highpoints, but neither does it have its lowpoints. [There are, btw, several interesting connections between BSG and FNL. The creator of FNL, Peter Berg, directed the pilot of BSG creator Ron Moore's new series VIRTUALITY, while FNL producer and frequent director Jeffrey Reiner directed the movie CAPRICA, which also serves as the pilot for the BSG prequel by the same name. There are also some stylistic similarities. Both are shot with hand held cameras, with the cameras playing to the actors rather than the actors to the cameras. Both feature rich and enormously talented casts. And then there are the convoluted connections. BSG executive producer David Eick worked on HERCULES, which was created by Rob Tappert. FNL producer John Cameron not only went to high school with Tappert and did some work on HERCULES and XENA, but Tappert married a Cylon, none other than D'Anna Biers aka Lucy Lawless.]
Season Three is the senior year of many of the major characters. The football arc centers on these players' last hurrah, the attempt to go to state one last time, and getting prepared to move on. Matt's situation is complicated by the presence of an enormously talented freshman quarterback who is clearly more gifted than he is. Riggins takes on new responsibilities and begins to grow up both on and off the field. And the team manages to overachieve and do things it clearly should not be capable of. The final game the seniors play is easily the football highlight of the series. The last scene is clearly the most poetic.
Off the field the major stories involve the rekindling of Matt and Julie's romance, which becomes one of the most realistic and sweetest relationships one can imagine. Matt struggles not only with his changing role on the football team, but his grandmother's decaying mental state, which indirectly leads to reestablishing a relationship with his mother. Tyra's story is especially interesting in Season Three. If in Season One she only gradually started to do battle with her own low self-expectations and in Season Two she fought hard to be more than the person everyone expected her to be, in Season Three he has to overcome additional obstacles to finding a more fulfilling life. She has to overcome a new guidance counselor who doesn't believe in her like Tami Taylor did, the temptation of an older and dangerous rodeo star boyfriend, and her own low self-esteem. The show's penultimate episode, in which she struggles to write her college application letter, contains one of the very finest moments in the entire series, as she finally finds the words to express what going to college truly represents, namely, "The possibility that things are going to change." And you have to love a show that has as one of the most triumphant moments a girl ecstatic in getting her college acceptance letter.
For the Taylors, life is quite different, as Tami takes on her new position as Dillon High School's new principal. Eric not only has to make difficult decisions regarding his quarterback but has to battle with that quarterback's father, who is overbearing to the point of being abusive (the mother, by the way, is nicely played by Janine Turner, who fans of NORTHERN EXPOSURE will remember affectionately as Maggie O'Connell). Buddy Garrity struggles with a series of bad decisions while Lyla is in a full-blown relationship with Tim Riggins. Meanwhile, Tim's brother Billy and Tyra's sister Mindy get engaged, which leads to the purchase of quite possibly the most hysterically ugly wedding dress in the history of network television.
One thing that is sometimes overlooked is how brilliantly executed the show is. People ignorant of film technique complain about the photography. It is all done with hand held cameras. The actors memorize their scripts and then are allowed to more or less ad lib along the direction of the script. No scenes are blocked, so that the actors are performing their actions in spontaneous fashion. They use a three camera arrangement so that even if they do only one take of a scene, they can edit the final version from different angles (look carefully at the scene in the episode "The Giving Tree" where Matt reluctantly goes to the patio where Coach Taylor is cleaning the grill and pay attention to where the cameras are during their conversation; this degree of technique runs throughout the series).
I hope there is a Season Four. Although I can't quite imagine how the series would continue, I'm fascinated to see how they would do so. For three years this has been a show that has done almost no wrong (except for the unfortunate killing in early Season Two). It has been one of the best series ever focused on the lower middle class. As a product of the lower middle class myself, I love seeing characters that are not privileged or wealthy or where all the parents are lawyers and corporate executives. I like that the closest thing to a rich guy on the show is the owner of a car dealership. I like that Tyra drives the same old ugly truck for all three seasons. Average, everyday folk have never, ever been so well served on television.
But if there is not a Season Four, the final episodes serve as a perfect conclusion to one of the most heartbreakingly gorgeous shows in the history of American television. Even if there is not another season, this show will live on. I've already watched the entire series three times and I fully expect that I'll watch it two or three more times in my lifetime. Shows like this are what quality television is all about.
27 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on May 2, 2009
Ok first let me state that I am huge fan of this show and own the first two seasons on DVD. When I found out about the deal with DirectTV I went through the pain of switching from cable to DirectTV because I had heard the season 3 episodes would be longer on DirectTV and shorter on NBC.
Now you are probably asking why I'm rating this season 3 release with one star. I just found out at TVSHOWSONDVD.COM that the season 3 release will the the shorter episodes broadcast on NBC and NOT the extended versions of season 3 that were broadcast on DirectTV. There will also be music substitutions according to TVSHOWSONDVD.COM. You can check out the story here at [...]
This is just the [...] marketing decision I've seen in a while. This show has a clear fan base and deserves to have the extended versions of the episodes. Considering the hassle myself and other fans of the show went through to switch to DirectTV just for this show I feel we all deserve the extended versions. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to see that by providing the extended DirectTV versions would improve sales. I'm also upset with the music substitutions that they are doing on the release.
Based on this I'm boycotting this release and will not be buying it. I refuse to support [...].
47 of 55 people found the following review helpful
on April 13, 2009
I was heartbroken when it was cancelled and became a huge fan of directv when they picked it up for season 3...BUT I just read on [...] (which is linked to Amazon) that they are releasing only the shortened/edited NBC season 3 - not the full episodes aired on directv's Channel 101. AND changing the music for the dvds.
Basically, the fans and directv saved this show - and NBC is going to shaft the fans-AGAIN- by releasing shortened episodes instead of full directv episodes. I'm SOOOOOOOOOOOOO MAD. How much more could it really cost to release the entire episodes? And something has to be done to negotiate use of the music up front because fans of all shows usually love the music that was originally chosen by the original creative forces behind the show - rather than after the fact, haphazard changing the music to save money. If you are willing to spend $30 on season 3 (or buy it on sale) - you would probably spend $40 just as easily to get the full episodes with the real music.
What a racket! I usually hate 1 star reviews that have nothing to do with the show - but the way it was released(like a volume 1 etc. just to make money) but when the way it is being released means you have no access to the full episodes on dvd-I think it deserves 1 star because it is content related. At least with a volume 1, they may be squeezing you for money but you know you have the option to buy volume 2 and get the entire season. This way, you just get edited episodes - with no hope of full episodes.
By the way, it also said there would be a season 4&5 - YAHOO!!
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on March 2, 2009
+++This Review Contains Some Spoilers+++
The latest (and potentially last) season of Friday Night Lights got back to what it does best. The show is at its strongest when it focuses on the relatively low-key melodrama of small town life, and is unafraid of sentimentality, heartbreak, and emotion. Season 3 has all these things. The show seemed to get away from these things in season 2; introducing a plot device straight out of Creative Writing 101 with the ill-fated murder story, as well as some sloppy storytelling and a few cringe worthy moments. Season 3 was a return to Season 1 form.
The emotional center of the show has always been the Taylors, the most functional and normal family I've ever seen on television. Eric, who seems to always be on the hot seat despite great success, is always worried about his job, and has to deal with the encroaching influence of Joe McCoy (DW Moffett). Tami has been promoted to principal of Dillon High School, and she has to deal with the realities of an under-funded school system. Her first priorities are to education, and she frequently bumps heads with Buddy Garrity, the mayor, and the rest of the football boosters over money. Her first big battle is over a Jumbotron for the football stadium. Julie has to deal with maturity, as she gets a part time job, re-starts her relationship with Matt, and has to deal with her friends and her boyfriend all graduating at the end of the year.
A major theme this season is dark underbelly of big time high school football in Texas, where football is king and education takes a back seat. Tied in to this theme is the arrival of the JD McCoy, a young Quarterback with a golden arm and an overbearing father. JD seems to be based on Todd Marinovich, the so-called Robo QB who was groomed from birth by his father to play football. JD isn't allowed junk food, has his own personal coach Wade Aikman, and his father Joe is controlling, domineering, and power hungry. Joe is the best addition to the cast, and becomes a truly convincing villain by the end of the season.
Joe is a man with true violence in his heart. He commits mental and emotional violence against his son and his wife, controlling every aspect of his sons existence, and in one memorable scene, he erupts in to physical violence. He also engages in a battle of control with Coach Taylor, constantly encroaching on Coach Taylor's territory, threatening his job and his families well being. Joe makes efforts to assert his influence over the team and Coach Taylor by offering him bottles of scotch, cigars, holding the team party at his house, and using his influence on the boosters to get Aikman hired as offensive coordinator. Eric recognizes this early on, but is torn between selling out to the McCoy's and keeping his integrity, even if it means losing games. Mac articulates this best by saying "they have a fox in the henhouse." This all erupts when JD begins to rebel against his father's strict hand, and Eric and Tami have to make some tough choices about what they see going on with the McCoy's. This lead to a showdown between McCoy, the boosters and Eric in the season finale that sets up an intriguing scenario for a potential fourth season that I won't spoil.
Tami is also affected by the football first attitude. She's now the principal and has to deal with an under-funded school. Teachers are getting laid off; there is a dearth of supplies and text books, yet the football boosters want to build a jumbotron. She also makes friends with Angela McCoy, and she begins to influence her as well. Eric see's this and worries about being bought and owned by the McCoys. Tami's role as principal also leads to a more prominent mentoring position for Tyra as well as the other characters. They all have to come to terms with life after high school and possibly moving out of Dillon.
Tyra perhaps best illustrates this anxiety, as she works extremely hard, stooping to desperate measures at times to get in to college. She looks at her mother and her sister and doesn't like what she sees. She's conflicted about her future throughout, and falls in to an abusive relationship with a rodeo cowboy named Cash. Her relationship with Cash seems to put her future in perspective, and she struggles to get in to college and get out Dillon.
There is also a strong theme of romantic relationships throughout Season 3. The aforementioned relationship between Tyra and Cash seems to make Tyra realize what she wants out of men and puts her relationship with Landry in to perspective. Julie and Matt have a tender relationship that's incredibly sweet. Tami has an A+ parenting moment when she talks to Julie about Matt. Tim and Lyla have a surprisingly functional relationship, even though Tim struggles with doubts about college. His old demons occasionally pop up, but his character exhibits incredible growth this season. Tim's brother Billy and Tyra's sister Mindy's relationship seems to highlight what it's like for folks who stay in Dillon. They seem happy, but there's an undercurrent of doubt for their relationship. This is particularly potent for Tyra, who does not want to go down the same path as her sister. Jason Street's relationship with his new family is at times heartbreaking and incredibly touching.
I can't forget Smash's arc and his relationship with Coach Taylor, which highlights the positive affect he tries to have on his players. Another well drawn moment are the changes and hardships Matt Saracen has to go through, but they're intriguing as well. He has to deal with the re-emergence of his mother, his new role on the team, and his responsibilities towards his grandmother. Saracen might be the most adult character on the show outside of the Tami and Eric.
Season 3 was a return to form for Friday Night Lights. It got back to what it does best. It's an emotional, sentimental, and sometimes melodramatic show, and these are exactly the reasons why I like it. It's unafraid to show complete and total happiness, heartbreak, optimism, and pessimism. I hope they have a 4th season, but if not, this is a satisfying way to end the show.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
This is a no spoilers review. Anyone who is planning on watching this in the winter NBC schedule will not want warnings about what is going to happen. Those of us who have caught it on DirecTV were delighted and stunned. I'm going to try to be fairly nonspecific and most of the plot details that I discuss will occur in the first episode, so not much will be revealed. The review does assume that you've seen Seasons One and Two. If you have not seen those, this review will contain some spoilers.
Season Two of FNL was great, especially the second half of the season, but all in all it was hurt for two reasons. First, there was the rather melodramatic killing of Tyra's stalker by Landry Clarke. Pretty close to universally fans objected to this, though most also enjoyed the time that Tyra and Landry were forced to spend together as a result. Second, the series was hurt by the writer's strike, with the series ending uneasily with Smash being unable to play football for several games. Other fans complained of Lyla's sojourn as a born again Christian and how whiney Julie was in the first half of the season. Along the way, however, there has been a host of marvelous storylines. I gave Season Two five stars without any hesitation, though I also was the first to admit that it wasn't the work of perfection that Season One was.
Frankly, based on pure business considerations, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS should have been cancelled at the end of Season Two. The ratings were just miserable. And despite every TV critic in America just going crazy over the show (I honestly prefer it to THE WIRE and THE SHIELD), it curiously has not garnered any awards attention. How is it possible that Connie Britton has not won a couple of Emmys for Best Actress (no one can seriously tell me that Sally Field has been a better television actress than Britton over the past two years)? Why no awards for Kyle Chandler? Why has Adrianne Palicki's astonishing work as Tyra Collette gone unrecognized by the awards? Omissions like this are an indictment of the awards themselves. And why has FNL not received two straight nominations for Best Drama? It is simply absurd that it has not.
Miraculously, NBC did something uncharacteristic for a major network: it found a way to save a show that deserved saving. They worked a deal with DirecTV to show the 13 episodes of Season 3 in the fall of 2008 with NBC showing the show in the winter of 2009. Kudos to NBC! I have been horrified by some recent decisions by the majors. How ABC could even have considered canceling a masterpiece like PUSHING DASIES, let alone doing it, is simply inconceivable. And how NBC, despite the very good thing it did in saving FNL, imagines that it is doing quality TV a service by gutting five hours of scripted TV next year so that we can get stuck with the repellant Jay Leno is unimaginable. Still, I wish more networks would take the effort that NBC did to save their best shows.
Right now there is no word on whether there will be a Season Four of FNL. My assumption is that after some of the ratings for the winter come in, NBC and DirecTV will sit down and figure out whether they want to do this again. If they do, the format is difficult to predict. There are a few major changes on the show, but within specifying what those are, there will clearly need to be a decision as to whether to stick with the kids who have graduated from Dillon High or keep Coach Taylor in high school football with a new group of players. Personally, I've been hoping that the main kids go to the same college, where Taylor will be named the new head football coach. But if there is no Season Four, they have left Season Three in a place to where it can serve as a series finale. The final two episodes are brilliant summations of everything wonderful that we've cared about for three years.
Season Three is, in my opinion, the best yet. Nearly ever major character has some wonderful story arcs. Because of budgetary considerations and also perhaps the pressure of giving all the characters enough time with only 13 episodes, two major characters has to be written out of the show, though each one gets a several-episode arc to say goodbye. Those two are Smash Williams and Jason Street. Given that both have graduated from Dillon, this was a logical change. Also apparently for reasons of time and budget Santiago, who in Season Two was living with Buddy Garrity, simply disappears with no comment. But the other familiar are back. Season Two ended with Tim Riggins ardently pursuing Lyla Garrity, Tyra and Landry dating as an official couple, and Julie pining for Matt. All those relationships get shaken up (though I won't say in what ways). But nothing is so completely shaken up as Coach Taylor's involvement with the new school principal. And nothing is so funny as the new principal coming to terms with two simple words, "Jumbo Tron."
I especially enjoyed Tyra's arc in Season Three. If you rewatch Season One of FNL, it is clear that early on they didn't quite know what to do with Tyra. Adrianne Palicki, who plays Tyra, is an amazing beauty with incredible onscreen charisma, but for the first three-quarters of Season One she is just in the show simply because she is. She is not integrated into any of the show's major storylines. But once Tami Taylor takes an interest in her (fascinatingly, just shortly after she had forbade her daughter to be friends with her), we get one of the best stories of an individual coming to desire a better life and doing something to achieve it that I've ever seen on TV. And I'll slightly break my promise not to reveal any spoilers by stating that one of the entire highlights in all of FNL comes in the next to last episode where Tyra reads aloud her college application essay. It is as moving a moment as you'll encounter on television and it also marks just how far Tyra's character has come since Season One. And along with Tyra you get her endlessly fascinating relationship with Landry Clarke. If you don't like their relationship one week, check back the next. The tension between his never ceasing adoration of her and her flittering back and forth between valuing him for all his outstanding qualities and her reign as the queen of mixed signals produces many of the show's best moments. And any conversation that the two actors have is special.
This is a season filled with surprises, a plethora of marvelous small moments, a few heartbreaks, and a few shocks. I've gotten about eight or nine people to watch this show and every one of them has become a passionate lover of it. If you already love the show, you'll love this great, great and hopefully not final season as much as the first two.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 4, 2009
It is my first time writing a review, but FNL deserves it. Let me just start by saying that I never cared for football nor watch an entire game! But this show is not really about football anyway, it is about the life of families and teenagers in a small town in the middle of Texas. It is so well acted, so poignant every scenes sucks you in, and you feel for every one of the characters. The camera is always right there in the moment, moving with the actors, it will make you cry, laugh and give you hope that TV can be more than just moving images on a screen.
I highly recommend to get season one first and after watching the first 3 episodes I know for a fact that you will be back here to order season 2 and 3!
God this show is awesome, we better get a season 4!!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on September 18, 2009
I bought the first two seasons of FNL this summer for my son, who was starting to play football. He watched it and said it was good so I thought I would try it. Within two episodes, I was absolutely hooked! The writing, the actors, the story, the football, and lessons....they are amazin in this series. I am very impressed at the values and stories imparted in this amazing TV show. I think about the characters, and when I was going through the seasons, couldn't wait to watch the next episode. I recommend it for 15 and up. There is teen sex and drinking in it, but the consequences of these are presented in a balanced view.
I watched the second season in record time, while working full time. It was hard to believe, but it seemed to get better and better. Then I had to buy the third season. It was great and left an opening for another season. There is supposed to be another season on direct TV and I don't know how to get that yet. I have a list of people who are waiting to borrow the seasons and my son's friends are loving it.
I love this show so much! and I am a middle aged woman who just happens to like sports. I think that even someone who didn't like football could still get a lot out of this series.
I recommend this to teens and adults.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on August 10, 2009
I am a huge LOST fan, could care less about football, and WAY past my teen years, yet I am completely hooked on this show. It is hands down the best drama on TV now. I picked up Season 1 a few months ago and after it sat for awhile I watched it in a marathon session. I then promptly went out and purchased the next 2 seasons and am eagerly awaiting Season 4. I tell anyone who will listen to WATCH THIS SHOW. Where are the awards? What's wrong with the industry that FNL hasn't been nominated for everything under the sun? It is perfection. I'm sure everyone who has watched it has been to that school, dated that girl or guy, argued like that with your husband or wife - the lists goes on and on. Never before has a TV show touched me like this one. PLEASE don't turn out the lights.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 1, 2009
I have never actually written a review before, but when I heard that FNL might be canceled, I felt I wanted to spread the word about how wonderful this show is. FNL is as real as a TV show gets. The family dynamics and friends are very true to life - something that often lacks today on television. If you haven't seen the show, I would HIGHLY recommend buying the DVDs to catch up. It is definitely a show worth watching...Let's make sure there is a season 4!!!!
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2010
Though I liked the First Season better, the Third Season of this show continued to shine -- as noted by someone else, the characters are the core reason I really like this show. It's so easy to feel and fall in love with the characters -- Tami, Tyra and Matt probably are my favorites -- and let's remember it takes not only good acting but good writing and directing (and camera work!) to succeed. Liking Matt, I was no big fan of the freshman QB, but realistically, it was a good story line and it was nice to see who played the mom (I remember her from Northern Exposure). And, Kim Dickens does well as Matt's long missing mom. Several special scenes, including Tami talking with Julie about sex, a scene well praised by commentary at the time.
One thing that probably warrants a star off -- for the DVD at least -- is the paucity of extras. Now, the price is great. That's for sure. But, I saw the second season on DVD (after seeing the first on Netflix) and it had three commentaries ("Tami/Julie" did one, "Landry/Tyra" another and producers or whomever) plus a Q&A appearance from most of the cast. And, some deleted scenes. Personally, this was a bit thin (only a few episodes had commentaries etc.), but appreciated.
This season has ONE commentary track and deleted scenes. The IMDB page alone has lots of behind the scene stuff. Fans really deserve a bit more in the extra department when they buy a DVD, especially given after the 1st season, each one had a relatively few number of episodes (15 or less). I see some appear to be upset about music changing or whatever, but that might be a matter of rights. Not having a few behind the scenes things is different, since again, IMDB has it online for free!
But, the show is great, and well worth watching. Buy or rent it!