Monday, March 30, 2009

The Televangelist: 'Friday Night Lights' episode 11

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2009 at 3:40 PM

click to enlarge LYLA GARRITY: Is Eastbound and Down
  • LYLA GARRITY: Is Eastbound and Down

Last week, I took stock of where this season of "Friday Night Lights" has taken us so far, and where it's headed. Just as I theorized the End is Nigh, it turns out that it very much isn't. Yes Panther fans, our beloved show has been renewed (or, is just about to be) for two more seasons, each of which will be aired first on DirecTV before moving over to NBC, a la the current season.

This is a good thing, right?  Your Televangelist is not convinced. The show will need to find fresh life and new direction (which it started building this week, with the potential of new cross-town rivals, but more on that later. Will some of our current Panthers get bused over?). Many of our favorite Dillon denizens are hitting the road (Smash, Street), with more to follow (according to reports, Lyla and Tyra will leave after similar multi-episde send offs). Hey, they have to graduate sometime, right? Except how often is a show about high school successful when everyone we know in the high school, y'know, matriculates?

More promising would be a Mindy and Billy spin-off. Imagine the possibilities for specials! This week we already got a taste of "A Very Collette Wedding," complete with a classy tea party that included all of  Mindy's closest friends from the Landing Strip: Sugar, Charm, Kandy ... and of course Fashionette! What might the future hold? "A Very Riggins Christmas?"

Both Lyla and Tyra were the recipients of pep talks and college talk this week, which makes sense given their eventual farewell. Lyla was accepted to Vandy, but worries she can't afford it. As Riggins reminds her "there are scholarships!" Also, I'm pretty sure that if Lyla wrote a letter to the Office of Financial Aid saying how her boyfriend became a quadriplegic, her family moved away and left her with her swindling father who spent all her college money on a scuzzy deal gone bad ...  she could milk some grant money out of it.

Lyla's arc in this episode ended with a terribly sweet speech by none other than Tim Riggins, the World's Sexiest Life Coach. I was caught off guard when Tim mentioned that he was upset with Lyla's "poor me" act. All evidence seemed to point to Riggins being upset with Lyla turning into "Beerowolff" and becoming as much as a deadbeat as he's been in the past. Does Tim hold Lyla in such high regard and rely upon her strength so much that he needs her to stay stable? Again, these problems could have been strung out over a few episodes, but with this season of "FNL" turning into a Problem of the Week show, it was resolved by 10 p.m.

The other big story this week dealt with JD McCoy and his father. Joe Simpson McCoy finally lost it completely and pummeled JD in the Applebee's parking lot after the kid lead the team to state. It seems that Joe's control issues are too deep to be appeased by JD's success. Joe needs his son to be a pod person who lives only for his father's word. In other Joe issues, it looks like he and the rest of the boosters are doing their darnedest to gerrymander the Dillon split. (I'm still not clear on why the state will only give them funds if they split the town.) Scenes such as these often remind me of the sort of wheeling and dealing of the town playmakers in the city where I grew up. Though the city wasn't small, it was racially and economically self-segregated, and within certain pods there were movers and shakers who, yes, loved themselves some football. Little moments like these help make "FNL" and the world it creates feel authentic.

Next Week:  Forget the Hatfields, it's the Taylors versus the McCoys. Also, Saracen thinks about college and what it will mean for Lorraine.

Musings and Miscellanea:

- Tyra to Mindy: "I have seven kinds of tea. Really. It's going to be magical, don't worry." And it was, it really was. To thank Tyra, Mindy blesses her with: "And one day, if you're really lucky, you'll find a man ... almost as hot as Billy Riggins whooooo!!" We should all be so lucky.

- I neglected the Saracen/Lorraine plot above because it looks like we'll be getting more of it next week.  The storyline and its execution, however, really struck a chord. There are few things as bad as watching a loved one suffer by slowly lose their grasp on reality. Lorraine stepping out of the moving car and later crying for the slippers already on her feet were very real, very raw moments. The show didn't exploit or dwell on them, either. Man, will Matt ever catch a break?

- Speaking of, Matt's mom never hears the end of it from Lorraine and Matt, does she? I guess that's what you get for abandoning your family. All things considered, she seems pretty decent now. And let's not forget, Mr. Saracen was no ice cream party of fun himself, either.

- I loved Riggins' response to Lyla's "Goodnight, Grandpa." Not the sort of thing you'd expect to hear about Tim!

- Lorraine being Lorraine: "I wanted to watch 'Oprah,' they're doing a live makeover today. You should watch, you could learn something."

- Wow, in the Dillon town split there will be 1,000 students per school? So does Dillon have 2,000 now?

- Is it just me, or has Coach Taylor been nothing but angry and surly all season? I can't remember him smiling/joking once (besides the "beautiful weather" comment during the rain).

- Rainy day football really highlights what a silly game this can be. A game I and so many others love to death, to be sure, but watching the Panthers play in such conditions reminded me of kids trying to catch the greased pig at the county fair.

(Photo courtesy of ABC.com)

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