Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Fall 2006 TV Preview – Friday Night Lights - Pilot

Currently scheduled to Premiere on NBC, Tuesdays Oct. 3rd at 8pm.

Friday Night Lights is based on the movie of the same name about a small time high schools’ football team and their new coach. Both the pilot and the film is directed by Peter Berg and the pilot has the exact same styling, same careful pacing (slow), same documentary feel as the film, but that’s a good thing! I am personally not a small town boy, nor do I care about football, but just as soon as I found myself slightly bored by all the intense football action on the field (which I will guess most people will find as the highlight of the show), the pilot emotionally pulls me right back in stronger than ever, and I find myself looking forward to the next episode.

Friday Night Lights follows more than a dozen characters, of the high school football players, their friends, their girlfriends, their parents and the supportive, if not demanding, townsfolk, who are all relying on this team to win them a championship, and in turn, give this town a focus for their energies amongst the dullness of daily life.

Whether the film quality and pacing of the pilot is sustainable throughout a season, I have no idea, but the pilot basically updates the movie to our current generation. I was a little surprised that the show was able to keep the indie-movie quality of the film, but I wonder if television audiences are ready for a slower paced, character driven show (as in its not a procedural, its not Lost, and it's not about rich people) more in the vein of films like All the Real Girls, Secrets and Lies or You Can Count On Me (read, slow “realistic” movies where nothing really happens, (but some of my favourite films of all time)). Then again, I thought Lost would tank since I loved it so much, so who knows? Still, this may be a case where the quality is too good for audiences to sit back and relax on a Tuesday evening, since there is no quick drama or comedic throw outs, but is a subtle look at the pressures by the townsfolk on the new coach, his family and his players.

Kyle Chandler, who so handsomely blew up (literally) in the post-Super Bowl episodes of Grey’s Anatomy, is one of a list of actors who I think should always headline a TV show at all times (also included are Tom Cavanaugh, Michael J. Fox, and Candace Bergin amongst a few others). Chandler takes over Billy Bob Thornton’s role in the movie, but if Chandlers nice guy appeal in Early Edition, Homefront, or his amusing turn as the cheesy actor opposite Naomi Watts in King Kong last year, cause for some concern to whether he could take this tough coach role, it is all completely dispelled in the pilot, giving the coach a strong centre without losing an emotional distance, or worse, caricaturizing the typical “coach” role.

I’m happy to see Connie Britton back on TV (in the role she created in the film) and she brings just the right amount of humour and realism to her wife role. The rest of the cast is big and incredible in their “regularness” and though it will take a few more viewings to figure out who is who, I found, at least so far, I would like to find out more about these people (even the lone caricature role of the towns blonde vixen, who sort of reminded me of Kristin Cavallari).

1 comment:

vance said...

hmm... apparently I copied futon critic since I said something very similar (about how similar the show and the film was and it being a good thing). I'm a subconcious stealer!

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