Thursday, April 5, 2007

Our Kind of TV Program - And It Needs Our Help

Friday Night Lights is not on the air Friday nights and, though the lights illuminate a football field (and much more), the program is not really about football.

It is about life and family and persistence and values. And marriages and kids, and health and priorities.

It is about the things we always cared about and find ourselves caring about ever-deeper as we grow ever older.

This is, in the view of many people, not only the best new program of this season, but the best program on TV. Period. If you bemoan the current state of television, trust me - Friday Night Lights is the antidote and you owe it to yourself to give it a try. (NBC, Wednesday nights, 8 p.m. EDT, 7 p.m. CDT)

It is shot with hand-held cameras. Some of the dialogue is clearly improvised. The music and landscapes and emotions strike deeply. If you don't tear up at least twice an hour, you need a soul transplant.

Oh, by the way, it just won a Peabody award. Here is what the citation said:

"No dramatic series, broadcast or cable, is more grounded in contemporary American reality than this clear-eyed serial about the hopes, dreams, livelihoods and egos intertwined with the fate of high-school football in a Texas town."

One of the actors, Kyle Chandler, who masterfully plays the lead role of Coach Taylor (above), recently said there are two kinds of television viewers - those who have not yet seen Friday Night Lights and those who are addicted to it. The darn thing is worth watching just to savor the relationship between Coach and his wife, also wonderfully played by Connie Britton (also above). But there is so much more going on here.

If you haven't seen Friday Night Lights, this week could be your last chance. For this season and maybe forever.

The program is on the ratings bubble. NBC executives, not generally known for their heart and compassion, are said to love the program and are looking for a reason to renew it, despite borderline ratings.

If you've seen the program or you see it this week and want it to survive, you can lobby for it by filling out a comment form. Maybe it will help. It certainly couldn't hurt.

You can watch a representative excerpt (highly recommended, though again this is about much more than football) and even entire episodes, though it certainly isn't easy watching an hour-long TV program on your computer screen.

Also, there is a chance that the entire first season will be rebroadcast on Bravo, the cable network owned by NBC. We'll be monitoring that and will keep you advised.

(Have you seen this program? What do you think? What do you think of television in general these days, especially when compared to the 50s and 60s? Click the comment link right below this post and join the conversation.)


Susan said...

Couldn't agree more. Friday Night Lights is excellent. The TV critic out here in San Jose says it's one of best shows not enough people are watching. The characters are complex, funny, nasty, talented, human. The coach and his wife DO have a great relationship, an enviable one. Hope it sticks around.

Marty said...

Reading between the lines of some recent comments from NBC, I think the odds are increasing that it will be renewed...but we'll have to wait and see. If it is renewed, the marketing types are going to have to figure out a way to get people to try it - because once someone, anyone, tries it, they're hooked.

This is by no means the first time I've sweated out one of these. CBS has been particularly annoying in this regard - "Joan of Arcadia" last year, a show several years called "Now and Again" (which co-starred Dennis Hasbert, who went on to "24" and "The Unit" - and some Allstate commercials), and before that "Picket Fences." All were breakthrough programs, in their way, and they all had some real soul. The networks suck you into a parallel world and you begin to bond with it and then, poof, it's gone.

Cliff said...

It's especially annoying considering that so many shows were sheperded aling for years on faith before they became hits (All in the Family, Seinfeld and I'm sure a few others).

Unfortunately being geographically challenged I can't watch (for some reason the Networks block overseas access even to freebies) but maybe if it becomes popular enough I can read the takeoff in Mad Magazine)

Marty said...

A note: Cliff, a truly fine fellow, is reading BoomVista from the Middle East.