We were lucky enough to get a screener of the season premiere of Friday Night Lights (it debuted last night on DIRECTV and will air sometime in 2010 on NBC for the rest of us mortals) and after watching it, I'm not sure that I can wait until midseason for my fix of this show. The premiere was just that good. I wish I could get DIRECTV at my house... or at least find a friend who would let me visit every Wednesday. Here are the five things I liked most about the episode and that had me reconsidering my television provider. Fair warning, spoilers ahead.
1. The new team
Wow. East Dillon. What a dump. But it's awesome to see Eric's coaching skills in overdrive as he has to deal with insubordinate kids who don't actually have the heart that the Dillion Panthers team had. They also don't have a nice field to play on... or fans. And long gone are the cushy offices and fancy computers. Still, watching the few devoted players in the locker room during halftime of their first game, as they sat all beaten and broken just trying to tough it out, had me on the verge of tears.
2. Tami getting her digs in
Tami's in a sucky position: she's principal of the Dillon school, while married to the head football coach of the East Dillon team. She's also hearing it from parents who don't believe that East Dillon school offers the same quality education (and they're right). But seeing her forcibly remove a student from Dillon High was very, very powerful. However, her shining moment in the premiere came during the Friday night start to the football season. The egotistical Dillon boosters thought they could control her by making her do the coin toss, which she did, but her knowledge of football allowed her to screw the Panthers a bit by doing the exact opposite of what they wanted. Her casual smile and wave as she sauntered off to go to East Dillon was just the perfect kicker to the kickoff.
3. Julie making a statement
If Eric and Tami have it tough, their daughter Julie's even worse off. She's going to school at Dillon, while watching her friends get torn apart, seeing her mother take hits for trying to protect her and still trying to support her father and his team across town. She bravely announced one morning that she was transferring to East Dillon, thereby staying with her friends and showing us that she's as stubborn as her mother.
4. Riggins's revelation
Much as we love the focus on the current crop of players, we're glad that Riggins is still kicking around, and that he's living with newlyweds Billy and Mindy, who've made it blatantly clear that they really, really don't want him around wasting away his life. A trip to the bar and a one-night stand makes him realize that he's not the Big Man on Campus anymore and actually may have to grow up. Can't wait to see him try.
5. Matt and J.D. rivalry
Matt's still around. I thought I'd be annoyed by this, but I'm surprisingly not since they've worked in a feud with J.D. Just when I thought that kid couldn't be more of an ass, they went and made him really obnoxious and threatening to Julie, and gave him an even more elitist attitude than he had last season. And since Matt was never really a talented football player and is now stuck delivering pizzas while attending community college, he's J.D.'s main target. It's an engrossing storyline, and if it means that J.D. gets punched out by Matt a lot, I'm totally up for it.
In general, the division of Dillon and its fallout creates plenty of good drama for this show to work with. It's a nice meaty twist that doesn't involve murdering anyone (well, unless Matt kills J.D., but that would be justifiable homicide) so I'm pleased about that, and just counting the minutes until I can get another fix.
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