Saturday, March 28, 2009

Friday Night Lights

I really enjoyed last night's episode of Friday Night Lights, "A Hard Rain's Gonna Fall". At last, Joe McCoy showed his true inner spirit and it was ugly. We knew it was coming, but somehow I didn't expect the amazing quick intensity of the blowout.

FNL is one of my all-time favorite shows. Because of the writing, because of the acting. Nothing is over written, over played, over wrought, over acted, over explained. Like the build-up to control-freak McCoy's nuclear blast. Yes, the issue of his son's girlfriend was slowly driving him batty, but it's at the football game, with the rain, his son taking the coach's orders over his, the guy next to him calling his son a dumb ass for not running with the ball — which is exactly what McCoy wants the kid to do — McCoy's dual feelings of frustration at being unable to control his own kid against the anger and humiliation he feels at the way the guy is ridiculing his son — that's the background to the simmering anger in the car, why listening to his son talking to THAT girl on the cell phone, sounding like a complete love-sick idiot, has him using his own son as a punching bag.

I loved the camera work at the football game, the quick, flat volley of shots between McCoy, his wife, and the thug next to him. If he'd been a South Park dad, he'd have had a punch-up with the thug. But, no, he's a FNL dad, so he punches his kid instead.

Last night's episode also had a nice aside: finally, we see the chinks in Eric Taylor's shining armor. He isn't perfect after all. Of course, his Achilles' heel is football. Coach Taylor, how can you lie to your wife like that? Pretending you didn't know about the new screwball redistricting plans the Boosters came up with? And Tami, your husband is such a bad liar, how could you not notice he was lying? It's this sort of complex interplay between characters that makes FNL so unusual. You have average folks who sometimes do dumb things and sometimes do smart things. It's so close to life, people wanting to do the right thing but rarely having the vision to do so, getting even more confused by false ideals of glory and that perpetual human need to escape from the daily drudgery of self.

BTW, isn't Kyle Chandler great? I've been a big fan of his ever since Homefront. What a great casting call. He's so different from Billy Bob Thornton, who played the coach in the movie version, but so perfect in his own way. Charismatic and so believable as the perfect high school coach.

To see episodes of FNL, just go to the NBC site here.

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