Friday Night Lights, Season 4

I miss the Panthers.

They suck now, and they’re a bunch of meanies, but I miss them. Call me old-fashioned, but everyone looked better in West Dillon Blue. East Dillion red just doesn’t sit well with me.

I was recently listening to an episode of the Nerdist Writers Panel (I forget which), and one panelist gave a shout-out to this season for tugging at our heartstrings and switching our loyalty so masterfully. I, like many others, had been true blue for three seasons, and within an episode or two, I hated the Panthers as much as I hated J.D. McCoy. (It took a few more episodes than that for Buddy Garrity.) I definitely understand where that panelist was coming from. The show really benefitted from the addition of new characters, too. Michael B. Jordan is a phenomenal actor (SPOILER ALRERT IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE WIRE), and his Vince Howard basically steals the season. I also really love Jurnee Smollett as Jess Merriweather; she has an innocence and a seductiveness that’s really delicately balanced in her young character. She somehow also has chemistry with both Jordan and Jesse Plemons, beloved Landry. Thank God they changed his hairstyle. He used to look very unfortunately hickish. Not the case now.

The other standbys were also great; Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton brought their best (albiet with a few less clear-eyes-full-hearts-can’t-lose’s and a few more y’all’s, respectively) and even Aimee Teegarden showed a bit of emotion this season. (Zing, whatever.) Of course, I couldn’t take my eyes off of Zach Gilford, whenever he was around anyway. “The Son” is probably the FNL equivalent of Mad Men‘s “The Suitcase,” in that it was incredibly dark, intimate, and multi-layered. We saw sides of QB1 that we thought were never there, and Gilford was truly tragic and brilliant in showing a teenager’s deep-seated anger towards his dead father. And last, but definitely not least, Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch) got himself intertwined in everyone’s fascinating storylines this season, and did it with his usual unintentional grace and awkwardness. If he weren’t so old, I’d believe him as the tortured 19-year-old that he’s supposed to be. But even if no one in high school looks like or will ever look as Abercrombie perfect as he does, I still think he’s a fantastic actor.

And that is where I draw the line on this season. The rest of it played out somewhere inbetween Season 2’s overdramatic soap opera and whatever’s currently on the CW network. I felt like I was watching a deliberate TV show, rather than just observing the Taylors and the Riggins as a fly on the wall. That’s not a compliment; this show had previously been so natural and raw, even when the plot got ridiculous in the aforementioned Season 2. The signature radio voice-overs that start every episode became so noticeable and contrived this season–instead of being fun, interesting dalliances for building suspense, they degenerated into obvious plot-hole-fillers.

You’ll notice I didn’t mention all of the new characters before. That’s because some of them weren’t so hot. Matt Lauria, who seems like a nice guy, didn’t get a whole lot to work with in telling the story of Luke Cafferty. His character was empty, uninteresting, and hard to root for even when he got injured and sidelined. Maybe that’s the writers’ fault, but he was disappointing. And Madison Burge as Becky Sproles… where do I begin? (Sidebar: Why didn’t she get a main cast credit? She was in every damn episode.) The stuff written for her character was incredible, what with the abortion story and the whole mother-daughter-Riggins love triangle, yet she delivered everything either with mostly a blank, detached stare or an overacted pout. Burge and Lauria made me miss the likes of Adrienne Palicki, Gaius Charles, and Minka Kelly (who made a few brief appearances).

But I guess a high-school-set show has to graduate its students. I get it. I’m glad they didn’t keep the characters in Dillon after they left Dillon. That part is true to life, and it’s commendable on a network TV show. I just miss ’em is all.

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One comment

  1. Family Guy Fan Fiction · July 27, 2013

    Although the tale is easy yet effective & the performances
    are still charming & endearing, the laughs aren’t quite as big or frequently as past Shrek films. A number are fairly understandable though, if you actually put yourself into the victim’s place.
    Ok, let’s change my life.

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