Friday Night Lights: The First Season

Movies
5 out of 5 stars
1/2
Photograph: USHE
2/2
Photo: NBC/Universal

Time Out says

5 out of 5 stars

Actor-filmmaker Peter Berg’s 2004 movie about Texas high-school football and the pilot episode for the TV version (which he wrote and directed) were both technical triumphs, but neither really hinted at the emotional depth the series would attain as its first season progressed. Taylor Kitsch (as a brooding running back), Adrianne Palicki (his sometime girlfriend with a bad reputation) and Scott Porter (a wheelchair-bound ex-QB) are all pretty enough for One Tree Hill, but it’s immediately clear they were cast for their talent as much as their looks. As coach Eric Taylor and his wife, Tami, Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton deliver rich, lived-in performances that result in the most complicated and believable TV marriage this side of Tony and Carmela Soprano; meanwhile, the travails of introspective bookworm quarterback Matt Saracen (Zach Gilford), who’s in over his head on every front, provide bittersweet comic relief. In story line after story line, Friday Night Lights illustrates the true meaning of the Dillon Panthers’ inspirational slogan (“Clear Eyes, Full Hearts, Can’t Lose”) instead of merely paying lip service to the motto. FNL is the best series of its kind since the legendary My So-Called Life (where head writer Jason Katims cut his teeth). Unlike its storied predecessor, this remarkable (but similarly ratings-challenged) series is thankfully coming back for a second season. October 5 can’t get here soon enough.

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