God I love the Friday Night Lights TV show. It is my top 3 all-time. It probably squeaks by The Wire and rivals The Shield as the best ever. I took advantage of the baby to rewatch all five seasons. Let’s start with season 1 (available on Prime).
Season 1 is damned good television. Everything great about FNL—except Vince Howard—is there. But FNL only really hits its stride when it moves away from network TV purgatory in season 3. But this is a damned fine season of television nonetheless.
Coach Taylor is the new head football coach in football-mad Dillon, Texas. Everyone expects him to ride his quarterback protégé Jason Street to State (the state championship is always referred to just as “State”). A dream that immediately blows up when Street is paralyzed in the first game of the season. The season covers Coach Taylor’s attempt to salvage the season while serving as a surrogate father for what seems like half the town.
Season 1 of FNL is the hardest of the seasons to judge. It has all of the elements that made the series great—Street’s injury and subsequent arc, Coach Taylor molding a poor, sensitive kid into a championship quarterback, the dreams and foibles of a small, football crazed town, Coach Taylor and Tami Taylor serving as surrogate parents for a bunch of struggling kids… But it suffers from the longest season of any of the five. Rather than tell a single story, season 1 tends to lurch from mini-storyline to mini-storyline. The character arcs for Streeter and Matt Saracen are damn near perfect. Smash, on the other hand, gets stuck with whatever crappy three-episode mini-arc the writers come up with. There is a general lack of confidence in the storytelling that will dog the show until season 3 (and the departure from NBC for first runs on DirecTV).
Season 1 does have the best football set pieces of the series, but, at its heart, FNL is a family drama.
4.5 of 5 Stars.
You can find all of my Friday Night Lights Friday posts here.