Work on TV: Friday Night Lights

I’m posting from Texas today in the midst of a week-long storm chase through Tornado Alley, so it’s time to offer up another thematic post:  It may be an underdog in the ratings, but “Friday Night Lights” is one of the finest dramas ever to grace the small screen.  FNL portrays small-town life in fictional Dillon, Texas, centered around Dillon High School and its standout football team.  The show is inspired by writer Buzz Bissinger’s book and the subsequent motion picture of the same name about the real-life Permian, Texas high school football team.

FNL features a truly ensemble cast, including a gifted cadre of young actors and actresses who play the students of Dillon High School.  But the show’s emotional core starts with the husband-and-wife team of Dillon head football coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and Dillon principal Tami Taylor (Connie Britton).  These are two of the most emotionally intelligent characters you’ll encounter on TV, and the way in which they do their respective jobs is a lesson in restraint, decency, caring, and commitment.  They are pretty fine TV role models for high school coaches and principals in the real world.

FNL’s first two seasons (the second cut short by the writers’ strike) were on NBC.  Low ratings put the show at risk, but Direct TV stepped up with an unusual arrangement, offering a season of full episodes in the fall, followed by NBC running the same season in the winter and spring.  The Direct TV/NBC deal has been renewed for at least two more seasons.

If you haven’t given Friday Night Lights a try, do so.  Season 1 (a brilliant debut season) and Season 2 (uneven, but still very good) are available on DVD and Netflix.  The superb Season 3 has just been released on DVD.

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