Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Friday Night Lights

I got asked by a friend a few days ago ‘What’s so good about Friday Night Lights?’, he has not seen the show before and so instead of just telling him why this show is brilliant I figured I would write about it instead, as I think I could talk for hours on this show and I might be a tad more articulate if I air these reasons on this blog. I will try to be as non-spoilery as possible so not to ruin the show for newcomers as this really is a show that should be watched by more people. I am also super happy that it has been renewed for two more seasons so there won’t be the fear of cancellation that has happened after each of the three previous seasons.

So in no particular order, the reasons why I believe this to be one of the best programmes on TV and of the past few years:

  • The setting: the fact that FNL is filmed on location in Austin, Texas means that there is an authentic quality that would not occur if it was shot on some studio lot in LA. The place is important to this show as it is about a small town in Texas and how much the high school football team provides for the town and its inhabitants. It makes the show believable and in turn makes you route for these characters as the scenarios that face the different families are ones that the audience will be familiar with.
  • The cast: yes like most US shows the cast is incredibly good looking, however they are also a talented bunch who are aided by the style that FNL is shot in, with multiple cameras on them at all times the actors are sometimes not sure of what coverage that they are getting so they have to be on the ball at all times. It has been said that the script will often act like a general outline and that the actors have the freedom for improvisation which gives a fluidity that further adds to the authenticity that the show features.
  • Eric and Tami Taylor: The coach and his wife are the heart of the show and are my favourite TV married couple. Their relationship isn’t perfect (is anybodies?), they disagree but fundamentally they are a couple who respect each other and love each other and are so important to their own child and the guys on the team. Once again, they seem so natural together and it is the chemistry between Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton that makes this union so believable.
  • The music: if you check out my previous post I have already written about the brilliance of the music in FNL. I will reiterate that not only is the use of Explosions in the Sky in the three seasons so far been excellent, but that the diversity of the other music makes this one of my favourite shows for how well songs fit the tone of the scenes. My only gripe being that due to what must be licensing reasons certain songs have changed from the Direct TV versions of season 3 to the NBC/DVD versions of the episodes.
  • It will surprise you: as far as story lines go this show has surprised me in the directions it takes, almost always for the better (except for a certain season 2 story arc that seemed out of character for the show). I can’t go in to much detail without divulging spoilers but there have been many occasions that I have been watching it expecting things to go one way and they do the opposite.
  • You don’t have to like or know about American football: before I started watching my knowledge was pretty much zero (it is still pretty low), however the football game sequences are so involving that they are some of my favourites in the show.
  • It is not your typical high school show: despite the setting and that most of the characters are high school students this show feels very different to any other high school show that I have seen. I think it is due to many of the elements that I have mentioned already, like the setting and the cast but even though this show deals with many issues that are common on teen shows (eg. sex, drinking, getting in to college) the overall feel is of a drama about the whole town and not just the high school.

I hope that this overview of what makes Friday Night Lights excellent to me touches on what a special show it is; here is the season 1 promo video:

‘Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose’

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