Monday, March 23, 2009

The Televangelist: 'Friday Night Lights' episode 10

Posted By on Mon, Mar 23, 2009 at 6:53 PM

click to enlarge NEW MEANING: Of "after-school special"
  • NEW MEANING: Of "after-school special"

One thing that "Friday Night Lights" does well is offer parallel storylines that adhere to strong themes.  Friday's episode was about girl trouble, daddy issues and temper problems, all of which mirrored one another nicely. Though the previews from last week suggested a lighthearted episode with some wacky Matt-and-Julie moments, the truth of this week's story was anything but.

Before digging deeper into the nuances of "The Giving Tree," I want to briefly comment on the season so far and where it seems to be going as we head into the stretch of final episodes. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, with the definitive departure of staple characters such as Jason Street and Smash Williams, it's starting to feel natural that this season might be "FNL's" last. It seems that each episode has dealt with an issue specific to and resolved within it's hourlong time frame, leaving viewers without a larger, season-long arc. I've realized that each week I've sat down to watch and pen my thoughts hasn't exactly been a chore, but I haven't felt any tangible excitement, whereas this season of "Big Love" has had me religiously watching, ravenous for the next episode. In fact, I've felt more compelled to watch a slew of old "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" episodes or the over-the-top and uneven "The L Word" more so than "Friday Night Lights."  What gives? Is it just a lack of urgency and cliff-hangers that would usually bring viewers back? Instead of being hungry for big resolutions, we get some little ones every week that don't seem to build to much.

So as not to dwell further on the negative (of which there is relatively little to find with "FNL" in general), onwards and upwards! There was plenty of action this week, and not all of it football-related. Eric walks in on Julie and Matt doing the dirty, which leads to an extremely heartfelt and moving scene later on between Tami and Julie. What other show could so believably talk about teenage sex without it becoming cloying or cliche? Both Tami and Julie teared up with the real and complicated emotions of dealing with issues of sex as a young adult: Tami in wanting to protect her daughter, and Julie caught between childhood and adulthood, still wanting to be a daddy's girl and not disappoint her mother.

In less successful parent-child pairings, Buddy throws away Lyla's college savings on a shady deal gone bad, then calls her a spoiled brat for being upset about it. Oh Buddy, when will you stop alienating everyone around you with your selfishness? In retaliation, Lyla moves in with Riggins, which is sure to cause some relationship ossues in coming weeks. Then there were JD and Papa Simpson Mr. McCoy, whose zeal for his son's football career is bordering on the psychotic. And finally, Tyra is told her relationship with Landry is toxic by none other than Landry himself (who refers to himself as the Giving Tree, to hearken back to the episode title and children's book for which it is named). In fact, there was a great deal of "schooling" going on all over Dillon, and the revelation of many painful truths. But still I have to ask ... to what end?

Next Week: Lorraine's condition worsens; Tim and Lyla have relationship talk; Tyra turns to Landry for support; and JD takes on his dad!

Musings and Miscellanea:

- So JD finally meets a girl. I like that she instantly markets his milk-drinking habits, creating an affectation for him in that "it'll be your thing."

- More Great Lines from Buddy Garrity: 1. "Do you NEED silence to watch naked women?" 2. From jail: "Don't worry about me, worry about Friday night!" Football is never far from Buddy's mind.

- I loved Landry's band giving him a halfhearted intervention over Tyra: "It's like you're a prostitute ... except you don't get paid. Or laid!"

- "Well, I'm smarter than I look." You keep it real, Tyra.

- I didn't like the foreshadowing of JD's QB coach (Coach Mac's replacement) being set up to take Eric's job away. Although Eric would probably like nothing better than to get the heck out Dillon these days.

- So, fellow viewers, are feeling my season three doldrums? Do the storylines seem too arbitrary? Don't get me wrong, I love this show and always enjoy each episode, but this season I haven't thought "I can't wait for Friday!"

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