My late arrival to ‘Friday Night Lights’
“Friday Night Lights” ended its television run seven years ago, but it’s a show that I just recently developed an interest in and now, about 11 episodes into season 1, I’m hooked.
For the very, very few (including myself) who were and are unfamiliar with the show’s premise, “Friday Night Lights” deals with the fictional small Texas town of Dillon and the local high school football team, which is one of the best in the state.
That is precisely every bit of information I knew going into this show, and out of all the shows to choose from in this day and age — the supposed “golden era of television” — I chose a show that began over a decade ago. It all seems very improbable.
I was never really one for sports movies or shows. I love watching sports but there are a myriad of other great dramas I would usually rather choose. But it was a certain bout of nostalgia that led me to this show that I now am quickly rank- ing as one of my favorite shows that I’ve ever watched.
I was thinking about how back when I was in high school, I never went to football games except once. I went to the homecoming game my senior year, and it turned out to be one of my favorite and most vivid memories of that time. Our team won the game and I had an amazing time taking in the atmosphere with all my school friends. It was joyous, loud, and wonderful. It was a surge of emotion coming from that memory that led me to finding this show. Growing up in a small town focused on community and now with Elkton being my second small town focused on community, I wanted to see how well this show could capture that nostalgia and sense of small town values. So far, it’s succeeding in every way.
For starters, the almost documentary-like style of shooting and the setting that was chosen for the show took me off guard in the best way. The herky-jerky camera and how quickly scenes transition really sucked me right in. It all seems so believable and real, which is the first step to hooking an audience. Not to mention the show has one of the most beautiful opening themes I’ve ever heard in a television show, and a killer soundtrack.
But it just kept getting better from there. The acting is just phenomenal for a show that was on late night network television. Not only are we witnessing the beginnings of powerhouse actors like Taylor Kitsch and Michael B. Jordan, as well as one of my personal favorites Kyle Chandler as Coach Taylor, but the dialogue of this show isn’t stilted at all. Well there may be a bit of cheese and melodrama in some storylines, but the delivery and how it all flows seems as natural as you can get under the circumstances.
Each character is already incredibly flushed out within the first 10 episodes, which is wonderful to see and experience. They’re flawed and make mistakes, but when they have a victory, I root for them. I see myself there with them in that town. There’s the local Applebee’s and the ice cream shop and the diner. There’s the movie theater and the crumbling water tower and the suburban houses with browning grass and the sun setting over the fields. I remember these sensations and places. The ability of the show to capture the small town feel that many of us grew up with is a big part of what’s hooked me.
It was a shock to me to learn in my research that the show was on the verge of cancellation for all five of its seasons. It was critically praised by never got the ratings it deserved. It bounced from network to cable and soon faded away in light of the beginnings of a new era of television. But I’m glad I’m late to the party on this one. I get to experience this show with new eyes and new experiences and memories in my life that add to it, as well as my being able to say that I come from a small town not quite like Dillon, Tx., but one I can see reflected in may ways.
Cecil County is full of small towns filled with character, amaz- ing people, and a lot of heart. If you’re from the area and haven’t seen this show yet, I highly recommend finding it. Maybe you’ll glean as much out of it as I do, and see a bit of the people you know and the memories you’ve lived in it, as I do. There’s a little bit of Cecil County to be found in Dillon, Tx.
Motion.Picture.Soundtrack is a weekly column by Whig Accent editor Kris Kielich discussing all things worth knowing in the world of music, movies and pop culture. At least in his humble opinion. You can reach him at email@example.com.
The high school football of “Friday Night Lights” provide a background for a show I now found utterly engaging, extremely well acted, and emotionally honest.