Ross Segal explains why the Panthers are still at the top of their game.

“It’s so good it can’t possibly succeed.” No, this is not a review of The Wire, The Sopranos or Lost. It is a review of the NBC show Friday Night Lights.

FNL follows the Dillon Panthers, the High School Football team of Dillon, Texas. The team is everything to the town; it is all that’s spoken about on the radio, in the grocery store or at home. However, the talking stops on Friday night for the big game.

The series starts with a new Football season where Eric Taylor has been appointed the new head coach of a very talented high school team, a job that everybody in the town thinks they can do and who know more than the man in charge. Now, here is the interesting bit; if you believe this show is just about American Football then you would be wrong. This show is completely character driven; on the coach, the players, their friends, girlfriends and their families. It deals with; racism, teenage insecurities, triumph, failure, infidelity, friendship. You name it, it’s got it. Something in which the creator Peter Berg, of Hancock and The Kingdom fame felt that the 2004 film of the same name that he directed, couldn’t fit into it’s two-hour running time.

The series has a very attractive young cast who could easily be misplaced as being in The O.C. Led by the brilliant Kyle Chandler (Coach Taylor) and Connie Britton (Tami Taylor), who are the rock of the series. They deserve every plaudit, and in Chandler’s case, his Emmy. Arguably, they are the best on-screen couple since Homer and Marge. Believable and funny; they are the morale compasses of the show, nearly every story arc, at some stage, goes through them. And thank god it does! However FNL is an ensemble show. Great performances are sprinkled through out with the Hollywood A-list of tomorrow; Taylor Kitsch, Adrianne Palicki and Jesse Plemons, to name a few. Normally on a show there is a character that grates on you, that seems to be in the way, not on Friday Night Lights.

Taylor Kitsch in Friday Night Lights.

Taylor Kitsch in Friday Night Lights.

FNL definitely has substance, yet it also has style. The show is filmed as though it’s a documentary, handheld and hard cuts. Three cameras are used all at once during filming, highly unconventional but what you get are the warts and all performances that make the series.

This is a show with a lot of character, yes it has its faults; storylines and secondary characters seem to disappear quicker than a Smash William run (in-joke). There is times when the show did a balancing act and nearly fell into American schmaltz territory, however it always seems to lean back just in time. This is a show that is a not a cliché. Happy endings need to be earnt in Dillon, Texas. Predictable story lines are normally a turn off, yet we are left routing for the inevitable to happen.

If you are tired of medieval kingdoms, alternate universes or zombies, then have a watch of Friday Night Lights.


 

You can watch the entire series of Friday Night Lights having recently taken to the Netflix field. Are you a fan of the show? Do you think it really can’t be topped or is there another tough contender to take on the Panthers? Sound off in the comments below.

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