Tag Archives: DirecTV

Friday Night Lights Season Four Kicks Off

The fourth season of Friday Night Lights premiers tomorrow night on the 101 channel of DirecTV (for those of us fortunate to have DirecTV… I bought mine solely for FNL). I urge you to watch it if you can! Find someone with DirecTV! Or search for it online. Or wait until 2011 and watch it on NBC. Just don’t miss it!

I still marvel at the number of people I know who have yet to see an episode of this fantastic show. These are people who like Mad Men and Lost and appear to know good TV when they see it. Alas, they’ve somehow missed what is certainly one of the best shows on television.

Well it hasn’t been because of any lack of promotion on my part. Over the years, I’ve written numerous blog posts and articles about this show. Among the things I’ve said:

“Every now and then a network show comes along that redefines the medium’s artistic horizons and proves that cinema has no monopoly on forward-thinking style in the world of moving images. Lights is such a show… Beyond the technical aspects, perhaps the chief appeal of Lights is that it is not condescending to middle America, even while it relishes in pointing out its quirks and contradictions. For those of us who hail from (and adore) the sprawling rural midsection of this country, it’s rare to see a portrayal that gets it so right.” (“Still the Brightest Light on TV“)

“This show—unlike most other hour-long dramas on TV—is not about plot twists and cliffhangers. Its greatness comes from how mundane it is—how it captures subtle beauty in the everyday occurrences of this sleepy little Texas town.” (“Friday Night Lights is Back“)

“When I think about Friday Night Lights, I think about my memories, and I think about my hopes. But I also think of Thomas Hart Benton, the plains, adolescence, Aaron Copland, thunderstorms, Dairy Queen, and struggle. Not many T.V. shows (or anything really) stir up such a complex array of emotions or feel so utterly relatable.” (“Why You Should Watch Friday Night Lights“)

Anyway, in case you remain unconvinced, here is a sampling of some of the endless raves reviews critics have given Friday Night Lights over the past three years:

Tom Shales, Washington Post

“Extraordinary in just about every conceivable way—but especially in the quality of its cast… “Friday Night Lights” is great, heavy-duty, high-impact TV.”

Mary McNamara, Los Angeles Times

“With any luck, popular success will follow the critical, because pretty much everyone who sees “Friday Night Lights” falls hard. With its fuzzy lighting and slow-as-a-summer-night cadence, it’s the antithesis of many of the slick hyper-dramas ruling the airways. It attempts to show life for folks who live without a freeway or a subway, complete with ugly violence and choked-back silence.”

Tim Goodman, San Francisco Chronicle

“Friday Night Lights is not good. It’s great… If viewers get over their preconceived notions about what they think this series is about and actually give it a shot, they’ll be as stunned as everyone else.”

Adam Buckman, New York Post

“The best live-action show about contemporary life in America that is currently on the air.”

Robert Bianco, USA Today

“Lights has a rare ability to portray life in small-town America without being condescending or sentimental.”

Bill Simmons, ESPN

“It’s the greatest sports-related show ever made… Every nuance is nailed, every hug seems genuine, every fight makes sense, every sarcastic barb and flustered reaction ring true. If there are better TV actors than Kyle Chandler (Coach) and Connie Britton (Mrs. Coach), I haven’t TiVoed them.”

Matt Roush, TV Guide

“Friday Night Lights moves me like no other show. It reminds me of where I came from and of what it truly means to keep one’s eye on the ball. And yet, as wrenching as the show can be, it’s also terrifically entertaining, with plenty of dry wit, edge-of-the-seat suspense, sexy romance and even the occasional laugh-out-loud moment.”

Maureen Ryan, Chicago Tribune

“I not only think it’s the best show on network television, I also think it’s as good as The Wire… This extraordinary drama lets us peek inside the lives and the minds of people who aren’t any different than we are, who are struggling with the mundane and major problems of real life. And it’s done with such subtlety, surprising wit and grace, that at the end of every hour, I devoutly wish it wasn’t over.”

American Film Institute—Television show of the year (2006):

“FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS is a celebration of America – its hopes and dreams, its heart and its heartland. Rare is the show that presents family and faith in such an authentic way – rich with emotion and illuminated by the pulse-quickening thrill of football. Peter Berg’s small town tale is one with community at its core, but universal in scope – the struggle of winning and losing, the drive to reach for more and the challenge of seeing a future beyond the glare of Friday night’s lights.”

Peabody Award (2006):

“No dramatic series, broadcast or cable, is more grounded in contemporary American reality than this clear eyed serial about the hopes, dreams, livelihoods and egos intertwined with the fate of high-school football in a Texas town.”

If you are still unconvinced to at least give this show a try, then I don’t know what to say. You’re missing out!

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Friday Night Lights is Back!

It’s true (at least for those of us who have DirecTV!). Television’s most undervalued show began its third season last night on the 101 channel on DirecTV. Fear not, it will be on NBC as well… just not until sometime in early 2009. I admit it: I pretty much bought DirecTV so I could watch the first run of FNL’s new season. That’s how much I like this show.

The season premiere last night picked up about 9 months after season 2 abruptly ended (curse you, WGA strike!), with the Dillon Panthers beginning a new season of football and Tami Taylor (the wonderful Connie Britton) assuming the role of principal of Dillon High. What a smart move on the part of the writers! Put Tami even more front and center. She is the best asset of a uniformly outstanding cast.

I won’t go into any other plot details (for those who want to wait and experience it fresh on NBC in a few months), but I will say that it looks to be more of a “back to basics” season, which is welcome after last season’s slightly off-kilter melodrama (murder! Cover-up!). After all, this show—unlike most other hour-long dramas on TV—is not about plot twists and cliffhangers. Its greatness comes from how mundane it is—how it captures subtle beauty in the everyday occurrences of this sleepy little Texas town.

And whereas TV’s other great drama (Mad Men) can sometimes feel too nihilistic for its own good, FNL is guardedly optimistic about life. It finds the goodness in its characters and roots for them to fight off their personal demons. Other shows seem to take devious pleasure in documenting their characters’ downfalls; FNL acknowledges that yes, sometimes we are our own worst enemies, but the real drama in life is not when we fall—but when we gradually get up again, with the help of our loved ones and community.

And ultimately, Friday Night Lights is about community. The show is remarkably in tune with the mythos of American small town life (in a respectful, rather than condescending, manner). Every time I watch it I feel like I’m back in Oklahoma, fifteen years ago, when I was a kid at the local high school’s Friday night football games. It reminds me of the sorts of towns I grew up in, which maybe explains why I’m such a huge fan.

But I also think anyone can relate to the show. The family dynamics of the Taylor clan are enough to hook anyone with a soul. If you haven’t already, please watch Season 1 on DVD. You’ll see what I–and pretty much every other American critic–is going on and on about.