Thursday, February 10, 2011

When the Lights go out

Clear eyes! Full hearts! Can't lose!

Last night, one of the best TV shows of all time came to an end, and not many people even knew the show existed in the first place.

That name of that show, you ask? Friday Night Lights.

Unlike The Wire, which started off largely ignored until it started to gain traction with audiences in its fourth season, Friday Night Lights never got the same "better late than never" attention and acclaim it rightfully deserved.

It seemed like each season of the show was a last-minute announcement, leaving fans wondering if there would even be another season. Thankfully, after its third season, DirecTV stepped in and bought the first-air rights, giving it a much needed home for the show's fourth and fifth season, which came to a close last night. The show will air on its original home, NBC, sometime over the summer.

Based on the book and film of the same name, FNL followed the Dillon Panthers -- a Texas high school football team so ingrained in the community that one ponders if Dillon would even exist if not for the team -- its coach, Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) his wife, Tami (Connie Britton), their daughter, Julie, (Aimee Teegarden) and the travails of the many players who came and went, among them being Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) and Jason Street (Scott Porter).

But wait.

Not only did Friday Night Lights better the movie upon which it was based, a rarity for TV shows based on films, the show also reinvented itself during the fourth season, moving Coach Taylor to a new school and adding a new cast. It did all that, and got even better!

There's more.

FNL was primarily a family-themed show, both literally and figuratively. LITERALLY - At its core, the Taylor family, one of the best portrayed families in the history of television. FIGURATIVELY - The show never steered away from serious family issues: teen-drinking, premarital sex, abortion and rape. The difference between FNL and most other TV shows was the way in which FNL handled each issue with tenderness for its characters, whereas other shows use those issues as plot devices to generate ratings and exploit characters.

And that was FNL's biggest quality -- its ability to tell stories realistically -- from camera angles and direction down to the improvised dialog.

I don't know many people who watched FNL, but I am glad I am one of the few. For five years I was treated to some of the best TV that will ever exist.

I only hope that people will retro-actively discover this show and keep its legacy alive.

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