Friday Night Lights
I've been watching the Season One DVD of this show, as part of my DVD-reviewing gig, one of the only DVDs I actually requested. Because I'd kept hearing that the show was good, but I hadn't seen a single episode.
It's great in ways that are both easy and hard to quantify. One of the amazing things about this show is that, boiled down to a summary, there really isn't a whole lot going on: it's about a Texas town where high school football is the be-all, end-all of everything, and the 22-episode arc covers the whole football season.
At the same time, it's not really about football. It's about the characters in this town, whose lives might revolve around football, but they have other aspects as well. The coach, his family. The high school quarterback who is badly hurt in the first episode, his attempts to deal with his injury, the rippling effect that this has on so many people in the town.
Tonally, the episodes are dead-on. The detail of this world, of this town, the camera capturing the reality of it all, scenes that don't have to be filled with on-the-nose dialogue to bring across emotion.
The most refreshing thing about this show is that there are no good characters or bad characters; instead, everyone is real. No one is evil, no one is perfect, they are just human beings dealing with their lives, coping with the things that happen, making mistakes and dealing with the fallout.
This is where TV is a great medium. In film, you don't have the time to really develop and linger with characters like this, just being immersed in their lives. Film is plot, plot, plot.
This show has drama, but it can let the drama sprawl. It's not really a series of stand-alone episodes; randomly tune into an episode, and you won't appreciate the myriad of small character moments in previous episodes that are finally paying off in this one.
And that's probably what is going to doom this show. Because it is the kind of show that's hard to jump in on if you've missed it so far, and people who miss a few episodes might decide they've lost the emotional thread.
Hopefully not. And hopefully the DVD will help get people to jump on the bandwagon.
Worth seeking out, if you have the time and inclination.