April 17, 2011
Every year at Emmy-time, the fans chanted: "Where are the Friday Night Lights nominations?"
Finally, in the last season, the cheers were heeded, kudos came: one for Kyle Chandler and one for Connie Britton, each for Outstanding Lead Actor.
They didn't bring home the trophies. No matter. The real winners were the dedicated aficionados of this fabulous favorite first-rate family-friendly football saga.
For five years, in fictional Dillon, Texas, an itty-bitty town where football is humongous - hell, football is the whole nine yards in the super-sized state - head coach Eric Taylor (Chandler) rides the spiral of a wildly erratic pigskin spinning out of control. And his wife and working mom Tami Taylor (Britton) spends her smarts and sagacity juggling more errant kid's ids than anyone can.
FNL was shot in and around Austin, home of The University of Texas, where the sport is more sacrosanct than Santa and the Savior combined. Many would accuse me of sacrilege, especially since the series is as much about praying as playing.
But don't quarrel unless you've sat in the UT stadium at game time.
And don't quibble until you have watched all of Friday Night Lights.
Several outstanding components connected to make the sudsy drama work. Casting. Acting. Scriptwriting. Direction. And cinematography. Does that cover it?
Not at all. It's the magnitude of the stories that magnetized and mesmerized viewers.
The broken hearts, heartfelt dreams, dreamy dates, date rape, racial concord, conflicted brothers, brotherly love, loving emotions, emotional truths, truthful friends, friendly sex, sexual angst, anxious egos, egotistical psyches, psycho teachers, teaching burnout, burning passions, passionate rakes, raging hormones, homely bodies, bodacious spirits, spiritual quests, questionable fears and fearsome triumphs.
Anybody who has been around high schools knows that life as a teenager is pure slippery soap and melodramatic mess. So any such label of this TV show is totally justified.
The episodes are always about the rocky road of growing up (and falling down), but the same issues engulf adults as well as teens, so don't for a minute think that the show is just about pubescence.
And since the football metaphor supplies a verdant field of rich possibilities, where adults are often more childish than adolescents, guess again about who should watch. (We do not mean you, of course, dear reader.)
And lastly, the show is not just for football freaks. The sport provides an unsettling setting for baffling, bewildering, mystifying emotions. One season can provide a lifetime of experiences, (and in FNL it does).
Maybe that's the bigger picture of why we will never be too old to watch. Football or Friday Night Lights.
The series is based on the 1990 best seller chronicling a Texas high school squad tackling its way to the top: Friday Night Lights: A Town, a Team by H.G. "Buzz" Bissinger. Peter Berg converted the book into the popular 2004 film and the television classic. For even more poop and scoop, scope out the Featurettes.
This closing season wraps up the show with a satisfying finale, not like the Soprano's cop-out or Lost's clutter, (two good shows that left fans flustered).
Through 76 episodes full of fumbles and Hail Mary heroics, you made friends with the players, and now they are moving on - happily, the swan song shares where. As Producer, Nan L. Bernstein said, "We're going out on an oh-my-gosh moment."
One more of the many miracles of the series is that you can begin viewing in the fifth season and still have a savory and satiating experience. Nevertheless, deft catch-up of former seasons, of course, is provided.
The commentaries enhance the feeling of closure and help ease the withdrawal. (Fortunately for fans, the four years of threatening to terminate the show never materialized, but you can sense the battle scars.)
In "The Lights Go Out," the Bonus interviews feature the compulsory mutual back slapping and bun patting, but with a big difference - it's genuine. After the years of camaraderie and creative freedom for all, the cast and crew coalesced into a veritable family.
True, they say it over and over and over, but it's infectious and downright believable. A sentiment to strive for in any occupation. The lesson is universal and here you can see how Berg did it.
Just one more unexpected extra bonus from the Features. And from Friday Night Lights.
Studio: Universal Studios
Cast: Connie Britton, Kyle Chandler, Taylor Kitsch, Aimee Teegarden, Zach Gilford, Adrianne Palicki, Blue Deckert, Scott Porter, Gaius Charles, Minka Kelly
Length: 9 hours, 22 minutes
Rated: Not Rated
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1
Dolby Digital 5.1