Friday Night Lights (2006–2011)
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The most important part of the show are the lives of the characters off the field, focusing on the head coach and his wife and their daughter, as well as the players. He is more of a father figure to these players before he is a coach. The main theme of the show is that people have dreams. It shows everyday problems that people face, which we can all relate to in one way or another. Then it shows these dreams can come true if you have someone who believes in you and is willing to help you until you reach these dreams. The show creates these characters in a pretty cliché fashion. But what makes the show so great is these characters are brought to life, making the viewer able to literally feel the emotions of these characters, even without words being spoken. For the most part, the acting is incredible by most of the cast. The way the show is shot makes you feel like you are in the room with these people. This show will move your emotions and make you laugh,cry, smile and cheer. There's not many other shows out there that can hit you with so many ranges of emotions. You really feel like you are a part of these peoples lives, and you really become connected to them. You are able to watch them change with your own eyes. You will think differently about life and football after watching it, I can guarantee that.
It's in the treatment, the way they execute the story lines where the difference is, and that difference is MASSIVE. It's the difference between a guilty-pleasure borderline soap and a sophisticated and earnestly dramatic piece of film-making. This show takes those elements that could be turned into melodramatic/stereotypical clichés, that could be simplified into the escapist world of The O.C., and it manages to wring out every inch of raw emotion and drama out of them. It doesn't put its moments to waste. I really don't think I ever saw a moment of honest, real emotion in The O.C.. Friday Night Lights easily has three powerful and honest moments an episode, if not more.
Besides the stuff that is similar to The O.C., the series also tackles more issues like racism, mental disorders, rape, and parent/child relationships.
In fact, the two episodes that deal with racism are a great example of how FNL is so great. It showcases a lot of viewpoints from different people inside the show, and while it doesn't solve things completely (just like real life), it certainly shows more insight into the issues than most shows or movies I can think of. If Crash won an Oscar for its simplified and stereotypical view of racists and racism, the complexity in the way FNL deals with the issue should've made it the Best Picture of the century.
That's not to say the stories themselves are perfect. When I step back and look back at the season of FNL, yeah, a lot of the story lines can seem at the end of the day overwrought and almost melodramatic. But that's the nature of the story lines. In the moments themselves, they are almost always written believably with perfect dialogue and acting. There are a few moments in the series where a character's turnaround or change of opinion might happen too drastically, but considering the 100 things they do right in every episode, 1 small problem like that per episode is really not much in the long run. There is always a fine line between melodrama and drama when dealing with shows about high school, and FNL hits the dramatic mark more consistently often than nearly anything else on TV or on the silver screen. The other thing is, like I said, FNL has a lot of raw and powerfully emotional moments in it. It wears its heart on its sleeve and some people may mistake that for melodrama.
These are characters you care for, that are intensely real - yes, so the girls in the show may be hotter than most, the cast is good-looking, etc...but the root of the characters feels like real people. The actors feel naturalistic, and the breadth of the show is stunning. You feel like this town actually exists somewhere. It's not just about the high school kids either. This show is equally about the parents. This is a show about an entire town, a town that is in love with football, that lives for football because, well, quite simply, most of them have nothing to look forward to except for football. It really nails the closeness and intensity of living in a small town, of everyone knowing everyone, etc.
If I had to use one word to describe what I think Friday Night Lights is about, it would be - dreams. This comes to the surface towards the end of the season but its always been there since the beginning. This show is about everyone's dreams, how and what everyone wants out of life, where they wanna go, where they seem themselves in the future. There are people who long for an escape from the town where there's not much of a future (Tyra), there are people with crushed dreams who have to rebuild (Jason and Lyla), there are people who are starting to live their dream (Matt), and there are people who are well on their way to their dream (Smash)...the entire show is about the struggle to follow your dreams and what that is worth. It's one of the best shows on TV and the best show that you're not watching.
Friday Night Lights is hands down one of the best shows on TV right now. The stories are interesting and the characters are complex- not just a bunch of pretty teenagers bemoaning their dating woes. I think relationships are portrayed about as realistically as they can be on TV. I hope it makes it to another season. I am not really a big fan of network TV shows either- but this one I will not miss.
FNLs is about more than football though - NBC and Peter Berg have created a gem of a show, with realistic story lines and realistic characters. Kyle Chandler (Dylan the Bomb Guy for all you Grey's fans) and Connie Britton have done a fantastic job as the two adult leads, Scott Porter has done a fantastic job at portraying someone who is paralyzed, and Aimee Teegarden and Zach Gilford are extremely believable as two teenagers in love for the first time.
Give the show a chance - you'll be hooked!
The story lines have been widely varied over the course of the season, and the characters have shown tremendous growth. I won't go into detail, but each character has changed in a major way throughout the season. Kudos to both Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton. They have such great chemistry that at times I've wondered if they are really married. The high school side of the cast is a bit old for the most part, but they do a great job as well. Zack Gilford and Aimee Teegarden have a very believable relationship and the constant back and forth emotions of Taylor Kitsch and Scott Porter kind of remind me of my high school days.
All in all, this show is one of the best shows on TV. From everything I've read, it's on the bubble as to whether or not it will survive for another season. The show still has a lot of growth potential and it would be a shame to see a show this good, end.
The acting is terrible. While in the movie the actor's performances were moving and believable.
The movie was based on a true story and the book was made in 1990. This on the other hand is fictional and LAME! I suggest, see the rock hard movie and leave this to burn like the other crappy TV shows on.
Maybe they think the surge in ratings for unscripted (illeterate ;) ) programming is due to their poor camera work and they've decided to do them one better by intentionally sabotaging some of their shows...
It's just baffling how a clearly costly show like Friday Night Lights can look so dismally poor and awful.
Yes, Mr. NBC (or whomever's in charge), shaking the camera and playing with the zoom does not make a good TV show. It makes an unwatchable piece of non-entertainment.
It's too bad because Friday Night Lights otherwise had the elements for a sleeper hit.
But the way it's shot it's just DOA.
In other words: it's bloody unwatchable! I have no idea where the people behind the scenes got the idea that unprofessional camera work was going to enhance their series, but it's backfired on them.
The only people saying positive things about the show are the critics, which in itself says a lot about what critics look for in a TV show: they certainly don't look for quality, because there is none to be seen on Friday Night Lights.
How is that possible if this show is so great? The answer obviously is that Friday Night Lights is very far from "great".
In fact, it is awful, really awful.
The culprit? The oft-mentioned camera work.
For you see, when you can't see the action without getting a headache or nausea, you just don't keep watching the show. Whether FNL delivers a realistic view of life in a small town becomes completely irrelevant since the show is plainly unwatchable.
Somehow, some incompetent producers and directors thought that shaking the camera would help their show.
Maybe they should have gone back to film school instead of reading ridiculous hype in trade reviews written by incompetent critics.
They think that horrible, unwatchable shows like Friday Night Light and The Office are "quality".
How is shaking the camera and playing with the zoom like a 5 year-old quality? It boggles the mind that professional managers somehow bought into the grotesque idea that shaking the camera was some sort of hot trend that would bring them a sheen of grittiness and edge.
Of course, they're getting neither.
All they're getting in another unwatchable excuse for a TV show that is dying in the ratings and only survives through expensive marketing campaigns.
NBC would do itself and the art of TV Shows a favor by canceling this abomination.
When the directing is as awful as it is in Friday Night Lights, it doesn't matter what the other elements are like, because I'll just stop watching.
I don't have the time or the patience to try and squeeze my eyes to discern what the actors are doing, nor do I want to invest in Dramamine in order to watch a TV show.
Peter Berg has made it a habit of badly directing TV shows by shaking the camera to and fro. Maybe he thinks that's brilliant directing. It's not! Actually, it's the worst kind of lazy non-directing that exists and it's a tribute to the sad state of network television (and Hollywood studios) that Mr. Berg's bad directing actually passes muster with executives who are paid to know better.
Overall, Friday Night Light is Must-Miss-TV.
It makes you feel like you're watching a bit of horridly badly made TV that makes the so-called "reality" shows look like masterpieces of film-making.
Friday night Lights was promoted with a lot of fanfare (and still is) as some sort of "quality" show. That's why I tried to watch it.
Boy was I disappointed.
The Critics and PR hacks once again put their ever-diminishing weight behind yet another unwatchable loser.
Maybe it's time Hollywood start paying attention to the quality of its film-making, rather than the quality of its PR.
In the meantime, I hope FNL will be canceled so Kyle Chandler can get a job doing something worthwhile... or even just watchable.
Let me be the one who disabuses them of this notion.
Shaking the camera does not add realism to a show. It actually subtracts from it. For you see, realism comes from the writing and the acting, and shaking the camera, well... it's just shaking the camera. It's annoying and detracts from whatever realism exists in the show. It also makes a lot of people reach for the remote.
At this point, there are two mysteries about Friday Night Lights: 1) Why did NBC put this on the air? After all, they must have seen how unwatchable the pilot was. 2) Why is NBC still airing FNL? After all, they must have seen the ratings.
Unfortunately it does no such thing.
I guess that the creators of the show decided that the best way to "capture" high school life was to make a fake reality show. After all, reality shows are the rage, right? The result is a show that looks many times worse than a reality show, to the point where it's unwatchable.
The nausea-inducing camera-work is so bad that it makes the cheapest reality show look like an Orson Welles masterpiece in comparison.
No wonder NBC went from first to last under Jeff Zucker if that's what he thinks is good television...
Some TV shows are bad in spite of the best efforts of the producers, directors, etc... Sometimes it's because they don't have a big enough budget, sometimes, they just fail because they overreach.
Not so Friday Night Lights! Friday Night Lights is incompetently made by design!! The directors, aping the awful work of Peter Berg, are content to shake the camera at everything in sight. They also have fun with the zoom on their lens.
All this awful camera-work is supposed to somehow make us feel that what we're seeing is "real". Of course, it achieves the exact opposite: it reminds you every second that you are watching a badly conceived, badly executed TV show. It also makes you feel nauseous, and not just from motion sickness.
Predictably, audiences have stayed away after the initial onslaught of critics claiming it was the "best of the year". Hopefully, this travesty will be gone from the air by April, never to return.
In any case, the only reason this show has had any "critical success" is because of the vast amounts of money that was spend by NBC to try and force this travesty of a TV show into being a "prestige" show.
Come on NBC!! How can you guys think that a show where the camera-work looks like it was done by a 2 year-old will be seen as "prestige" by anyone other than critics you spend a lot of money on.
Well, there is something money can buy: awards. Unfortunately for NBC, money can't buy sustained ratings, because these require people to keep on watching, and Friday Night Lights is unwatchable. Literally.
Let's hope this will get canceled so Connie Britton can find something decent to be in.
Actually, my little nephew's footage is a lot more professional than Friday Night Light's.
It makes one wonder what the executive at NBC think of their audience... Clearly, they don't think they care about quality.
Well, I care about quality, and between The Office and Friday Night Lights, I now know to avoid anything NBC promotes as "quality".
When NBC says "Quality", you must flee, because all you'll get in another unwatchable bad show.
GE should fire all the NBC execs for having green-lit that stinker.