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Green Bay Press-Gazette

Monday, November 19, 2007

Livin' large -- and true to life -- in Texas

Friday's episode of the critically acclaimed "Friday Night Lights" was a solid reminder of why this show snagged an Emmy earlier this year for outstanding casting in a drama (although it was snubbed in nominations). "Varsity Blues," this is not.

I started watching the show because I was hoping to mock yet another attempt by the Hollywood elite to depict my home state on television ("Dallas," anyone?). Unwittingly, I got caught up in the lives of the tight-knit community of Dillon, Texas that revolves around the football team's highs and lows. Plus, FNL does a great job of representing the Lone Star state without resorting to stereotypes about rich oilmen in Cowboy hats -- it's shot around Austin and heavily features the music of Austin-based instrumental indie rockers Explosions in the Sky.

Even though it was low on the edge-of-your-seat sports action that normally bookend the show, Friday's episode was high on the character relationships that helped defy expectations on a show about high school football. In a TV world full of criminal procedurals, horny doctors and dramas featuring the lifestyles of the rich and beautiful, it's sometimes just nice to see normally flawed people.

Props go out to Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton who play Coach and wife duo Eric and Tami Taylor with believable simplicity. But there are also those larger-than-life characters like running back "Smash" Williams whose attempt to wheel and deal with college recruiters has serious potential this season (as seen on Friday when he and his mother disagree on his focus on an athletic scholarship over an academic experience at a historically black college).

Oh, and there's football - some of the best on-field action that isn't on ESPN, which even the big screen sometimes falls short on. If you don't believe me, rent "We Are Marshall." So, if you're not watching right now, pick up Season 1 on DVD, then catch new episodes on any given Friday at 8 p.m. on NBC.

Writers strike update: If you're wondering when your favorite show will be off the air, here's an ongoing list from Entertainment Weekly and the editors of TV Guide. There's also some hope in the news at the end of last week that negotiations between producers and writers will resume on Nov. 26. But the threat of a reality TV takeover seems imminent (More "Making Menudo," please?).

-- Malavika Jagannathan,

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Did you voluntarily watch this show, or did you get the short stick this week?

I agree that Texas does need some good PR.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 20, 2007 at 11:16 AM  

No, this show is just plain perfection.

By Anonymous Eileen, At November 20, 2007 at 12:27 PM  

If I'd gotten the short stick, you'd know -- there'd have been a lengthy post about "Making Menudo" (I don't know why I keep picking on this show, but it's just so easy).

FNL is a terrific show, and I definitely went in with a preconveived idea when I started watching. It's definitely way more than just about high school or football or even Texas.

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At November 20, 2007 at 1:05 PM  

I love this blog. Keep it up.

By the way, I loved "Varsity Blues."

"I don't want your life!"

By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 20, 2007 at 2:26 PM  

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