Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Night Lights 5.1: Family and Football

Friday Night Lights debuted its final, fifth season tonight on NBC, in a quiet, altogether superb and satisfying episode.  I'll be reviewing each and every episode this season.  I already saw it - all of it - on DVD earlier this week, and other than saying the season is even better than the superb first episode, I'll try not to give away anything more.

Tim Riggins is serving out his term in prison - he's due to come up for early release in three months, due to good behavior.  As Tim tells Billy, it's easy to be on good behavior, when you have "no other options".  Another great line from Tim (my favorite still being his "I always skip Wednesdays" from Season 2).

While we're on the subject of Tim's family, Billy talks Coach into letting Billy be an assistant coach this year.   Coach likely agreed more of out of wanting to help Tim's kin than anything else, but Billy has some spunk as a coach.   Meanwhile, Becky can't take living with her stepmother, and shows up at Billy and Mindy's house, seeking a place to stay.  Mindy's less than thrilled.

Back to the football - Buddy talks Coach into poaching a high-jumping basketball player for the Lions, and this gives Coach a good opportunity to extol on the virtues of football.  It brings out the worst instincts of people, Hastings Ruckle, the basketball player says.  Coach counters that it builds character.   Actually they're both right - all sports can bring out the worst, and build character.  It all depends on who is the coach.    And there's none better than Eric Taylor.

Vince is as happy and settled as we've ever seen him.   Jess has been a good, stabilizing influence.  The combination of Vince, Luke, and Hastings get the Lions' first win, in their first game of the season.  It's clear already that this going to be a very different season for the Lions - different from last year, which they ended at 2 and 8 (with at least the satisfaction that the second win kept the Panthers from going on to the playoffs).

But the series is as appealing as it's ever been in its realistic, right-on presentation of friendship and family life.  Landry's about to leave to college, and as soft-spoken sage as ever explaining his "point"s.  He has a faith in human rationality which is winning and refreshing (Thomas Jefferson would have been proud of him).  Julie is about to go off to college, too, and spends her last night between her family and Landry.   She leaves the next morning, with Eric giving her extra money "for emergencies".  There's nothing tougher for a good parent - you do all the right things, only to see the baby you raised so well into an adult go off on her or his own.

Tammy is of course as deeply affected by Julie's leaving as Eric.  She's now a guidance counselor at East Dillon - in the aftermath of benighted West Dillon's treatment of her, and you just know she's going to shake things up and-

Well, I'll see you here next week.

5-min podcast review of Friday Night Lights

See also Reasons to Watch Friday Night Lights and Friday Night Lights Final Season: Sneak Preview Review

And coming this summer, my "Friday Night Lights, NBC, and DirecTV: How an Unlikely Partnership Saved a Great Show and Pointed the Way to the Future" in this brand new anthology ...

Friday Night Lights Companion
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