Tuesday, 8 December 2009

My favourite discovery this year: Friday Night Lights

Friday Night Lights may have begun back in 2006, yet it was not until this year that I started watching the Dillon Panthers which is why I am naming it my favourite new show of 2009. I quickly consumed the first 3 seasons on DVD and have been enjoying the forth season as it is airing (with last weeks episode being one of the best yet). Even with the dip in decent storylines during the writers strike affected second season this is one of the best shows on TV at the moment and it is a big shame that it doesn't get higher ratings. I'm indicative of the fact that a show about a sport that I have little interest in can become one of my favourite shows, and it shows that this FNL is about way more that just high school football. It is about the people in the town, both the adults and the school kids and it because it is so well produced that as an audience we care greatly for what happens to them both on and off the field. The parts that are about the games always make me anxious because I know that this show isn't just about showing this team winning but also getting defeated when it really matters. I also think that my grasp of American football is much better and I even understand what different plays mean.
The strength in FNL though is not just about how good the football sequences look but that the interactions between characters come across as being real and this is partly down to the organic filming style, everything is in motion and the conversations regarding issues such as sex and religion do not seem forced or prejudicial. It is also really great to see a TV show with a married couple who fight and laugh like real people, Tami and Eric are by far my favourite TV parents and this is definitely to do with this dynamic as well as the excellent performances and chemistry between Connie Britton and Kyle Chandler.
Elsewhere character wise even though some of the high schoolers are clearly in their twenties, the depictions of these characters who live in a town that has little to offer beyond high school football are excellent. From Tyra who is desperate not to turn in to her mother with a bad string of relationships, to Smash also desperate to get in to college so he can get in to the NFL to Riggins who doesn't see much beyond drinking, women and football each character is well formed and believable. Julie is however the perfect portrayal of a teenager, from her bratty behaviour to her confusion regarding new relationships and sex, to her both disrespecting but also needing her parents she really does have the whole teenage angle down.
My favourite character though is Matt Saracen, QB2 who became QB1 after Jason Street became paralysed.  Matt is a character who is modest and works hard, at both football and his relationships especially looking after his Grandmother who has dementia. It is this storyline that is particularly heartbreaking, they are a family of little means but you can tell that he really does love and want to care for his Grandmother, it was the season 1 episode when Matt is out on his first date with Julie that gets interrupted by his Grandmother having a moment of confusion when he has to sing 'Mr Sandman' to calm her down that sealed my love for this character.
Overall this show really is terrific and I am so glad that even if I was a little late to the FNL party that I started watching this year. Also, whilst I have just said that Lost has my favourite pilot, this show is a close runner up for that title, everything about it sums up why this show really is exceptional. Other than the great acting and writing the other important factor that makes this show as good as it is, is that it is filmed on location in Texas, using real Texans in many of the background parts (I especially loved the jewellery sales woman in season 1), this gives a much more authentic feel than if it was shot in some back lot in LA. It is for all of these reasons that this is my favourite 'new' show of 2009.

"Clear Eyes. Full Hearts. Can't Lose"

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