Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Friday Night Lights: uh-oh

Episode 1.7, Homecoming

I haven't been motivated to write much of anything, and I haven't been too enchanted with anything, lately, so I kept putting off writing up last week's episode -- you know, on the off chance that I might snap out of this whatever and suddenly hear birds singing and not feel so dismal.

No luck, so here's Homecoming, which I can sum up in one simple non-verbal utterance: uh-oh.

I still love the characters, I love the way this show is put together, I especially love the acting. I love the tiny things that make everything hang together so well. The show doesn't just look real, it sounds real, too. It doesn't have one consistent soundtrack, it has audio motifs for different characters and different situations. I still really like all that.

What I'm concerned about -- what gives me the "uh-oh" feeling -- is the predictability. Too many things were too easy, or too easy to call, in this episode. Tyra's party was a huge hit! Who woulda thunk? Smash chokes under pressure -- what a surprise! "We're concerned about your size and strength" are code words for "start shooting up steroids, now." Gee, really? Riggins gets off the booze, goes for a run and lifts weights, and magically, he's the go-to guy for the win. Yay, Tim!

It didn't all suck. I'm in awe of Jason Street's physical decline even while he's remastering the limbs that still function: his face is going slack and pale, and he's losing his pretty-boy look. I'm also loving how Jason is returning to form and thinking about his future and what his life will be like. He always was a planner, and he's a smart kid, but there's a lot of confusing information to process right now. I think the writers are handling his character very well.

I'm starting to hate Lyla with the intensity of a thousand white-hot suns, but then I realize she's just a TV character and I need to get out more -- but seriously, that girl is e-v-i-l (only small letters because she's not really that bad). Or maybe she just uses baby talk too much. (That could be it.) "Don't hate me, Tim," made me want to puke. And give Riggins a hug, the big idiot. Is it really his fault that he's in love with Street's girl? Yes, but I'll give him a pass because he only recently sobered up, and I'm hoping that he'll figure out what a snake Lyla is now that he's not in an altered mental state all the time.

The former-QB plot was another in which I felt I was dodging anvils. Big success in high school translates automatically to big screwup once out of Dillon's protective enivrons -- of course. It's too trite to even call it a cliche, but Kyle Chandler was awesome anyway. Tami's commentary on the situation was spot-on if cliched, and nicely contrasted with her own comfy life: Hey, I didn't fall into that trap and neither did you. Tami perhaps sees that she has a calling to bring these football stars down a few pegs before they all implode, post-graduation. Or, in Smash's case, post-Homecoming game.

Finally, I am so rooting for Saracen and Julie. The asking-out scene was classic Saracen, who didn't even let Julie get a word in edge-wise. Here's hoping 1) she said "yes" and 2) we get to see them on a date, soon. Man, Coach Taylor's pre-date speech to Saracen should be one for the ages.

So: it sucked, but not completely. And it was miles above last week's Battlestar Galactica, which was the worst episode this season, possibly ever. Yes, I know, I'm approaching the "damning with faint praise" level here, but it's all I got, this week.

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