Season 4 of Friday Night Lights represents one of the ballsiest moves in television history. Peter Berg moved Coach Taylor to an entirely new school, in the process dropping much of the old cast, adding several major new characters, and drastically increasing the number of African-American characters. And it works. Man, does it work! Season 4 is arguably the finest season of FNL (I rank it second).
I’m going to come right out and say it: Season 3 is the best season of FNL. It is not a coincidence, I think, that season 3 is also the first season after FNL moved from being a straight network show and the first season with a planned short season (Season 2 being artificially shortened by the writers’ strike, as I recall).
Oh season 2. Much, much maligned season 2. And not entirely unfairly. I won’t argue that season 2 isn’t the weakest season of Friday Night Lights. But as weakest seasons go, it could be worse (I’m looking at you, season 5 of The Wire). There is a lot to like here, and, frankly, the Landry-Tyra murder storyline isn’t as bad as advertised.
I still haven’t seen season 2 of True Detective, but season 1 was near perfect television, and I really need to revisit it in the near future. When I found out that True Detective writer Nic Pizzolatto wrote a country noir novel, I jumped on it almost as soon as season 1 drew to a close. That novel, Galveston, has got the requisite blood and gravel, and really pretty prose, but it isn’t a standout work in the subgenre. (Apparently Pizzolatto’s real wheelhouse is the short story, so maybe I’ll pick up his collection Between Here and the Yellow Sea in the near future.)
I took my first trip to Houston in high school to visit my dad at M.D. Anderson. He died at the famed cancer hospital a few days later. Fate would take me back to Houston over a decade later, and we would buy our first house smack halfway between M.D. Anderson and Telephone Road.
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.
I love football. For the past couple decades, that has meant college football, but it wasn’t always that way. Growing up working class in a small town, football means Friday nights and high schoolers running the Wing-T.
I haven’t been to a high school football game in over 15 years, but rewatching Friday Night Lights has my thoughts returning to all those cold fall nights under the lights. If I can’t watch high school football—going alone to watch a game with strangers at a high school that to me is just a place to vote ain’t gonna do it—at least I can write about it and revisit the Friday Night Lights franchise in a blog series.
Darren Matthews is a hard-drinking, black Texas Ranger. His job and his marriage are hanging by a thread after a friend asked him for help and the other guy wound up dead. He is still on suspension when he takes it on himself to, at an FBI buddy’s urging, head out of town to investigate the deaths of a local white woman and a black man passing through rural east Texas.
Bluebird, Bluebird is set in east Texas in the Piney Woods along Highway 59. The copy describes it as “rural noir” and it was the winner of the 2018 Edgar Award for Best (mystery) Novel. It works well enough as a mystery for me (but then I have never been a mystery fan). It is fairly classed as country noir (my preferred term for the subgenre), although it fits somewhat uneasily. But the two complement each other and make for a stronger book viewed with both aspects in mind.
I love 70s movies. This is a topic I will return to. The most relevant reason for my love of 70s cinema is that it was the last time Hollywood dealt regularly and evenly with the rural working class. My original choice for this week was the Burt Reynolds vehicle Gator (available to stream for free with Amazon Prime), but I wound up rewatching Rush with my wife’s family, so Rush it is. Rush was made in 1991, but it is a 70s movie in more than setting. And it is a period piece that doesn’t commit the usual sin of getting cutesy and clever about it.
Rush takes place in 1975. Rush is based on a largely autobiographical novel inspired by Kim Wozencraft’s stint as a narc in Tyler, Texas, but the movie is set in an undisclosed location that is probably somewhere on the Gulf coast between Houston and Corpus.
Kristen Cates, played by Jennifer Jason Leigh, is a rookie narcotics officer is paired up with veteran officer Jim Raynor, played by Jason Patric. Jim isn’t old, but after going for early-career Jim Morrison in The Lost Boys, Jason Patric goes for late-career Jim Morrison here, and like late-career Jim Morrison, Jim Raynor wears his years pretty damn heavy.
Fresh off my review of Savage Season, I am back for another country noir set in East Texas. Bluebird, Bluebird is thick with Texas Rangers and the blues and blood and bubbling racial tensions. I am reading this now and I have thoughts! But I am going to wait for the paperback to hit before I publish my review. You can expect it to go live on August 22.
Bluebird, Bluebird won the 2018 Edgar Award for Best (mystery) Novel.
Can’t-Wait Wednesdays is hosted by Wishful Endings.