RICHARD ROEPER ON TV'S GREATEST DRAMA
The following is part of a July 14th column by the Chicago Sun-Times Richard Roeper.
Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.
If you know what that means, you know one of the best dramas in the history of television reaches its broadcast TV conclusion this Friday night.
Like “MASH,” “Friday Night Lights” is that extremely rare television adaptation that’s even more memorable than the book and the movie that preceded it. For the last five years, this series has outperformed the vast majority of movies I’ve seen. At times it has achieved the level of true modern art.
“Friday Night Lights” hung its story lines on small-town Texas football, but the games themselves were often the least powerful moments. Too many dramatic, last-minute plays. But this show wasn’t really about football. It was about the ties that bind. It was about family, and friendship, and the real problems that teenagers and their parents face in the America of the 2000s.
There was always more than meets the eyes. A state championship parade, with visuals out of a political campaign video or a car commercial, was accompanied by the song “Devil Town,” which is anything but sunny and simple. Someone you’d categorize as a bimbo or a thug or a hero would turn out to be so much more. (Or less.)
We knew “FNL” was going to be something special from season one, in which the star QB was paralyzed, the seemingly perfect cheerleader questioned her world, and some of the kids who seemed to have it made in fact came from shattered homes.
Kyle Chandler as Coach Eric Taylor and Connie Britton as his counselor wife Tami gave us one of the most realistic portrayals of marriage in TV history. Aimee Teegarden was the most authentic teenage girl on television since Claire Danes in “My So-Called Life.”
Through the seasons, “Friday Night Lights” dealt with issues ranging from class warfare to drug addiction to abortion to murder, almost never devolving into soap opera. There were more than a dozen characters that could have carried their own series, from Zach Gilford’s Matt Saracen to Adrianne Palicki’s Tyra to the Riggins brothers to Buddy Garrity, played by the invaluable Brad Leland.
From the dominance of the Dillon Panthers to the rags-to-football-riches story of the East Dillon Lions, “Friday Night Lights” never wavered in its mission to deliver complex, authentic, richly textured drama.
When its run on NBC ends, the series will be replayed on ESPN Classic. If you’ve been watching every episode since 2006, you probably share my love for this show. If you haven’t seen it, you’re in for a glorious ride.
Used with permission.
For FNL props and wardrobe, check out www.vipfanauctions.com to bid on screen used items from all five seasons of one of television’s greatest dramatic series.