“Friday Night Lights” is one of the best quality TV dramas I have every watched and enjoyed. I have watched many high quality drama’s but usually they strike me as a little to far away from the real world, a little too full of themselves with a little too much angst and pain and not enough joy. “Friday Night Lights” is the critically acclaimed drama that I believe everyone can watch and enjoy not just the snobs.
“Friday Night Lights’ the TV series is based on “Friday Night Lights” the film and “Friday Night Lights” the book. The book is written by H.G. Bissinger and is the true story of a journalist living in the Texas town of Odessa and the football crazed culture he observed there. The book also focuses on the misplaced priorities of football over everything else and the racial tensions in the red neck Texas town. The film is produced by Brian Grazer and the directed and written by Peter Berg and David Nevins. The series retains the same team and is executive produced by Peter Berg, Brian Grazer, Jason Katims and David Nevins.
First off this is a amazing team for a TV show, Brain Grazer was one the executive producers on “Felicity” and Jason Katims was the executive producer of my favourite scifi teen drama “Roswell”. “Friday Night Lights” had the TV dream team from the very beginning. Lasting 5 seasons and garnering an Emmy for it’s excellent writing and for it’s male lead Kyle Chandler the world seems to agree.
A critique of small town football culture is what the original film is all about but when Peter Berg adapted his film script into a long form series he broadened his horizons. Using the fictional backdrop of the Texas town of Dillon and their famous and fan fanatical football team the Dillon Panthers, “Friday Night Lights” creates a world that is at one part typical and one part extraordinary with an amazing array of believable flawed characters that you will want to come back to again and again. It addresses with realism and grit issues prominent in small town Texas, like drugs, lack of government funding for schools, abortion, sex, racism, the importance of family and economic instability and the lack of opportunities in small towns.
“Friday Night Lights” is rough and textured which can sometimes put a first time viewer off, scenes are shot often in only in one or two takes with 2 or 3 cameras and their is a hand held gritty style to the show. But this style allows for amazing locations and pitch perfect performances. The actors are encouraged by Berg to feel as real as they can within the scene, with the scene structured to get the best possible performance rather than the great light or perfect camera pans. This rawness gives the show an amazing sense of heart and makes me cry in almost every episode.
I love a good sports movie or TV show, the simplicity of the goal, the hardship and rewards of the journey to get there, it gets me every time and this is what gives “Friday Night Lights” a brilliant structure to hold it in place, the teams football season plays out over one TV season. But if you’re not into sports on film don’t despair, the sport is only one part of the action, their is the amazing relationship between coach Eric Taylor and his wife Tami and the sexy romances of Matt Saracen, Tim Riggins, Lyla Garity, Julie Taylor and Tyra Collette. Not to mention the heart breakingly honest story of a man paralysed in his prime, Jason Street.
Add to all this “Friday Night Lights” crowning glory amazingly talented and beautiful actors. You can tell Peter Berg is an actors director and it really pays off. If you don’t have massive crush on Tim Riggins and Matt Saracen by the end of the pilot, your not human.
Give it a watch, but I warn you it may come with one side effect. Tragically I now know more about American Grid Iron Football than I ever knew about Aussie Rules. Damn what a pity.