My late ar­rival to ‘Fri­day Night Lights’

Cecil Whig - - ACCENT -

“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 kkielich@ches­


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.

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