“Friday Night Lights” kicks off final season

By Tom Comi

Every once in a while TV viewers are treated to a show that strikes the right chord in everything from the writing to the acting to the location in which it is shot. Friday Night Lights is one of those rare gems.

So it is with both excitement and sadness that we tune in tonight (NBC, 8pm ET) for the last season of a drama that unfortunately never got the viewership it so greatly deserved. And even if you are one of those people who for one reason or another chose not to watch the first four seasons, there is still time to jump on the bandwagon and find out out what the buzz has been all about.

First and foremost, it’s important not to label this as a sports show, because football merely serves a backdrop to what is really an exploration of relationships both on and off the field. With that in mind, it goes without saying that the writing and acting have to be superb to pull that off, and the latter starts and ends with Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

Chandler plays Eric Taylor, coach of the East Dillon High School football team in Texas, while Britton portrays his wife Tami, who serves as a guidance counselor at the school. The interaction they have as a couple and with their daughters is something to behold, but their relationships extend far beyond that. Eric is essentially a father to every one of his current and former players, and Tami’s motherly persona can be both a plus and minus in her line of work.

As great as Chandler and Britton are, though, Friday Night Lights would be nothing without its young cast, which has intentionally experienced some major re-shuffling over the years due to several characters graduating from high school. Some of the standouts to look out for are Taylor Kitsch (Tim Riggins), Minka Kelly (Lyla Garrity), Aimee Teegarden (Julie Taylor), Michael B. Jordan (Vince Howard), Matt Lauria (Luke Cafferty), Jurnee Smollett (Jess Meriweather), Madison Burge (Becky Sproles), Zach Gilford (Matt Saracen), and Jesse Plemons (Landry Clarke).

It would be an understatement to say there are many dramatic twists on and off the football field in this final season, including questions about the future of East Dillon High and its head coach. And although it’s never fun to say goodbye to a show that has brought us so many emotional ups and downs, it’s fair to say that there is an unforced sense of closure that somehow feels right for both the viewers and the characters.



© NBC Universal, Inc. Credit: Bill Records