Saturday, February 02, 2008

Friday Night Lights: Dreary Eyes, Sad Hearts... Can't Lose!
I know this week is the big week of Lost's return, but sitting in its dark shadow is the brilliant Friday Night Lights. This week's episode was the best one of the season (it felt like a season 1 episode) and had me laughing out loud, angry as hell, and very, very sad.

Matt Saracen decides to become a bad boy, and what better way to do that than to hang out with THE bad boy, Tim Riggins. The moments with these two were laugh-out-loud hilarious. I know what happened to Matt is hard on him, but the way he handles it is to drown himself in beer, and the result is pretty hysterical. He walks out onto the football field during practice after skipping the entire day of school, and ends up getting beaned by the football. It happens so quickly while he's in the middle of wandering around in a daze and shouting useless instructions that it catches the audience off-guard, too. Some of the exchange with Saracen and Riggins:

Riggins, pulling up to a motorcycle sales centre and grinning when he sees Saracen sitting on one:
QB1... skipping school again.
Saracen: Yeah, well, yesterday's kinda turned into today. How about you?
Riggins: I always skip Wednesdays.

Matt: What're ya gonna do?
Riggins: I was thinking, ya know, hit the museum, yoga, library for a bit... then again I might just do the ush. Wanna go for a beer?

Riggins watches Matt down his entire beer before pouring another, and says, "You want a funnel, er..."

Riggins, pointing out Lyla and her boy: Look at those two bible thumpers there. They come here every day for lunch. Isn't that sad? It's sad if you ask me.
Matt: Stalkin's sad if you ask me.

Riggins, introducing himself to Lyla's guy: Tim. Riggins. It's a pleasure, really. You have great hair... We got a pitcher if you guys are interested.
Matt, waving from afar: Shalom!

But the fun and games are over when Saracen gets a call from the hospital (in the middle of a lap dance) to find out his grandmother has fallen. When he gets there and passes out on the couch, unable to take her home, Coach Taylor shows up, takes them both home, and throws Saracen in the shower to sober him up. When Saracen yells back that everyone leaves him, and wants to know what is wrong with himself, it's Eric who instantly sobers up, and he mutters, "Nothing's wrong with you, son. Nothing's wrong with you." The water continues to stream over a fully clothed Saracen as we realize he's right: his dad left, Julie left, and now Carlotta is gone, too.

Tami's stint as the girl's volleyball coach is going well, and Tami's becoming like a den mother to the girls. But in doing so, she's neglecting Julie. Julie's gone from being a sweet girl last season to becoming a morose, grumpy teenager this season, mostly because of the presence of a new baby sister that was completely unexpected. She's been the only child for 16 years, and when she needs her parents' attention the most, it's suddenly divided. Now she's seeing Tami's focus on these other teenage girls, and it's driving her nuts. We could chalk her anger up to typical rebelliousness, until Tami forgets Julie's driving test. The moment where Tami realizes what she's done is a poignant one, and she realizes that her daughter isn't demanding all of her attention, just some of it. Tami rushes down to the DMV and begs the instructor to give Jules a chance. When he does, the mother/daughter relationship begins to return to its strength of season 1. As Tami watches her pull out of the parking lot, she says to her new baby, "There she goes, Gracie Bell" and she knows that she has to start spending more time with her older daughter, because she'll be out of the house before she knows it.

Landry is dating the super-adorable Jean, who shares the same taste in music and movies, is a mathlete like him, and who truly likes him. (Loved him asking Saracen and Smash waht would be a better date movie: The Wrath of Khan or Jaws... and the way Smash stares at him before silently getting up and walking away.) The scene where she shows up to the post-game and tells him she's discovered MST3K on YouTube is priceless. They are SO cute together... But when Tyra sees another girl jonesing for Landry, she suddenly realizes that guy she was so ashamed of isn't as bad as she thought, and that she really likes him. This after, when Jean comes to her to make sure she doesn't want her guy, Tyra actually laughs and says, "Oh my god, do you mean LANDRY?!" and then says to Jean, "Good for you," like she's patting the head of this little nerdly romance. Tyra waits for them to go out on a date and pulls Landry aside to tell him that she likes him after all, and wants to make it work. I cheered as Landry told her that he was out on a date with Jean, who isn't ashamed to be seen with him in public, unlike Tyra. But it was too good to be true. In the end he lets Jean down not-so-gently, and goes with the tall blonde with the big boobs. It's like leaving Willow for Cordelia, for god's sakes... but then again, he's a teenage boy, and it's too exciting for him to turn down a hottie for his little geek princess. I'm so sad... I hope this isn't the last we've seen of her. Will Tyra be so interested in him now that she's snagged him and proven herself the winner?

And finally, Smash's situation has bred dissent in the football ranks, as they all believe there's no way they can get to the playoffs if Smash isn't in the final three games, and they blame him for it. Then Smash gets the letter from TMU revoking his scholarship, and he believes his future is over. There's a great scene with Momma, where she refuses to tell him "I told you so" and instead tells him how much she loves him, and that she believes in him, no matter what. Smash heads down to wish the Panthers luck in their first game without him, and a newly sobered Saracen tells the coach they don't care what anyone says, they want Smash on the team and will be disqualified if they have to. Smash won't have it, and rallies the troops in the way he always does, bolstering them up and cheering them on as they head out, newly strengthened, to play the game. They leave him behind, standing alone in the locker room, and the moment they're gone he breaks down and cries. The music in this scene, moving from powerful and joyous to sad and lonely, is brilliant. (The music for the series is done by Explosions in the Sky, a band that sounds like Montreal's Godspeed You Black Emperor.) It's one of the saddest moments in the entire series, and it's beautifully done.

This episode proved just why fans are going nuts for this show. But, sadly, it doesn't look like it's going to last. Looks like Ben Silverman's already given up on it. Check out this exchange he had when asked if FNL would be renewed, and his utter disregard for the show (funny how he keeps bringing up another show that had terrible ratings at first). On the other hand, Variety is reporting it just might be renewed! Thank you, Variety.


Crissy Calhoun said...

I really like Tyra...she's not just the big-boobed blonde! Landry liked her at first just cause she was hot, but now has real feelings for her. it *could* work.

funny there was no mention of Matt's mum in his speech about how everyone left him -- have we ever heard what happened to her?

i love this show. they better not cancel it.

Nikki Stafford said...

I like Tyra, too, but it's clear in this case Landry's not choosing her over Jean for her brains. Tyra was ignoring him at school long before Landry's dad told her to stay away -- she was embarrassed to be seen with him. I watched the scene again of Jean coming up to her to ask if she still has her sights set on Landry, and Tyra literally snorts in disbelief and says, "Landry?!" as if it's just a joke, and then when Jean says, "Yeah, Landry, because I really like him and think we have a shot," Tyra nods her head like she's talking to a 3-year-old and says, "Well, good for you." and wishes the two of them the best of luck. It's only when she sees them together that she changes her mind.

I think Tyra's a great character, but I LOVE Jean. She's like a little Veronica Mars in glasses.

K J Gillenwater said...

I was bummed about Jean losing Landry, too. In the real world, Jean is the one that is right for Landry. Tyra is just not smart enough for him....sorry Tyra.

If they did end up together...I mean like husband and wife...he would quickly realize they have very little in common besides sexual attraction. And that only lasts so long.

Maybe I'm going a little deep for two teenagers...they probably would not be contemplating stuff that far down the road...but *I* was the smart geek, so I just am annoyed that Tyra 'wins' when Jean is really the better catch here.

I want Landry too be smarter than that. But I guess a teenage boy is a teenage boy and knowing he can have sex with a hot blonde is more important to him in the long run, I guess.

The scene with Matt was just heart-breaking. I didn't realize that is how he perceived people in his life at all. Great scene there. Great acting. And where will this take Matt in the future? Will he still be angry and sad? How will he find a way through it all?

tiff said...

loved the recap. It was a stellar, brilliant, moving episode.

Silverman is a douche. What about people who love FNL and 30 Rock?

Nikki Stafford said...

LOL! Ok, "Silverman is a douche" will go down as one of my fave comments ever. ;)

Nikki Stafford said...

Kristin: Yeah, you know, I feel a kinship with Jean, too, so maybe that's why I'm gravitating to her. Teenage years: music and movies
20s: movies and TV
30s: TV... with some movies and music thrown in

Good questions on Saracen. It'll be interesting to see if they make his decline a one-off thing just to have some fun with him and Riggins, or if he'll bounce back pretty quickly.