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Still Talkin TV » “Friday Night Lights” Remains a Winner

“Friday Night Lights” Remains a Winner

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It is time to get sentimental about “Friday Night Lights.”

And with “Friday Night Lights.”

The series about life in a small Texas town where high school football is king is entering its final season at 9 tonight on DirecTV’s The 101 Network before it gets a larger audience in 2011 on NBC.

 In a TV season that is without a must-see new hit, “Lights” shines as brightly and as beautifully as ever tonight in a premiere episode entitled “Expectations.”

 The series received Emmy respect last season, with the actors playing the best husband and wife team on TV, (Buffalo born) Kyle Chandler (see above, Coach Eric Taylor) and Connie Britton (guidance counselor Tami Taylor), deservedly getting nominations.

 This being high school, the departure of Minka Kelly (Derek Jeter’s fiance), Scott Porter (who now is on “The Good Wife”),  Adrianne Palicki (who was on this year’s flop “Lone Star”) and Zach Gilford as regular cast members have been skillfully handled. They all will return for appearances in the final season.

 Tonight, the Taylors have to deal with the heartache of seeing their daughter Julie (Aimee Teegarden) head off to college.

 It is a very sentimental goodbye that should resonate with any parent who recently experienced the emotional pain of seeing a child leave while at the same time being proud that they raised him or her to be independent.

 At one point, Eric looks at his wife and daughter having a conversation at the kitchen table about shopping and says “I’m going to miss this.”

 There is a lot to love about “Lights,” with the Taylors’ ideal family life high on the list.

 The remaining characters from the original cast in tonight’s premiere include bad boy Tim Riggins (played by Taylor Kitsch) and good guy Landry Clarke (Jesse Plemons). However, it looks like they also will be taking a back seat to the newcomers on the series.

 And the show’s writers have done a great job in the past few seasons incorporating new teen characters played by Michael B. Jordan, Matt Lauria, Jurnee Smollett and Madison Burges into the series. This year, they have added Grey Damon (“90210,” “True Blood”) to the cast as a basketball player who initially takes the very un-Texas like position that “football is stupid.”

 Though “Lights” has been one of the best shows on TV for four seasons, it never has been able to attract the audience it deserves for a combination of reasons.

For one thing, it isn’t easy getting viewers to watch family dramas.

 The football backdrop also may have turned off many female viewers from even trying it, though those who have seem to love it.

 The story lines also can be a little too dark and depressing since they deal with very real issues involving teens in a poor Texas town dominated by football – including the inequities between funding of schools, teen pregnancy, abortion, drugs, racial discord, neglectful and abusive parents and boyfriends and the difficult of escaping the cycle of poverty. 

 But it is the intelligent way that “Lights” deals with all those issues that makes it a TV classic that deserves to go out a winner.

 And all indications tonight are that it has a solid game plan for a final season after last year’s winning season in which Coach Taylor left the comfort of Dillon High to go cross-town to coach with considerably less resources at East Dillon.

It wasn’t an easy move for his wife, either. The guidance counselor is about to face frustrations after heading East at season’s end after taking a principled stand that upset the Dillon School Board.

 It looks like Coach Taylor will once again try to teach his players at East Dillon lessons about teamwork, pride and family, while his frustrated wife tries to help them overcome the low expectations that their parents have given them.

 In the end, if you don’t shed a tear or two as the Taylors prepare to say loving goodbyes to their daughter, then check your pulse to see if you alive.  

I’m going to miss this series.

pergament@msn.com

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One Response to ““Friday Night Lights” Remains a Winner”

  1. Rick says:

    Can’t wait to watch tonight. This is the BEST show on TV.

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