Pin It

Remote Possibilites 

by Luke Baumgarten & r & & r & Friday Night Lights

(NBC, Sundays at 9 pm; online anytime) & r & & r & You should be watching Friday Night Lights. I mean it. Yeah, the season's over, the show's in reruns, and it's warm outside, so the prospect of watching old TV isn't exactly sexy. The show in question, too, has a few barriers to entry. Like the film it's based on, Friday Night Lights centers on high school football in small-town Texas. Given the trauma of high school, the brutality of football, and the sheer bile issuing from much of the Lone Star State, I probably just turned off 75 percent of you. That's understandable, and it's the main reason the show had such horrible ratings all year.

The dirty little secret, though, (the one that NBC only started marketing after the first season's ratings were unsalvageable) is that, while football is Friday Night Lights' subject, people are its focus. In towns like the fictional Dillon, high school football is more than a sport. It's the only thing townspeople have to look forward to. More tragically, it's often the only thing former stars -- never better than that one dream game decades ago -- have to look back upon. In dusty, defeated towns like Dillon, the best thing that can happen is winning a prep football title. That places enormous pressure on the kids -- 16-, 17-, 18-year-olds -- and coaches charged with winning glory for their communities.

Friday Night Lights was a surprisingly good film that gave a nice overview of the complicated interpersonal entanglements of small town America. Writer/director Peter Berg adapted it for television for the express purpose of taking that overview and going deeper. He's done that brilliantly in the show's first season, expanding upon the heartaches, rivalries, politics and interpersonal tensions (racial, sexual, etc.), that drive these towns. The cast of young actors arrayed around rookie coach Taylor (Kyle Chandler) and his wife Tami (Connie Britton) hits these notes with passion and nuance. There aren't bad guys in Dillon, just people desperate for a reason to stay excited about life.

So, yes, football is the engine. The dreams the sport incubate in the citizens of Dillon, though -- hope, heroism, the prospect of greatness, a legacy, a way out -- provide the spark and combustion that make riveting art.

As I said, you should be watching Friday Night Lights.


The Starter Wife

Debra Messing's got a brand new bag! Well, same bag, perhaps, but more elegantly styled, and stripped of the gay-chic finery Will & amp; Grace took such pains with. Here, instead of being trendy and talented and tolerant, Messing's just rich and divorced. After years of defining herself as a rich guy's wife, watch ol' Deb pluck-and-charm her way through an identity crisis. (Thursdays on USA)

Pirate Master

Want the sex appeal of Survivor with the undeniable (and very hip) pirate-y-ness of... pirates? Talk to Mark Burnett. The Survivor creator has taken most of the elements of his hit show and given them a little swashbuckle with contestants sailing around on a ship looking for loot, kicking off one crew member a week until there's just the captain left to claim the booty. (Thursdays on CBS)


Three guys walk into a museum. One guy challenges the other two to rollerblade (what is this, 1990?) from the top floor down. They agree. Once the two 'bladers are outside, first guy blows the joint up, fingering the other two for an act of terrorism. With nods to Iran-Contra, Desert Storm and Guantanamo, this is the first drama in TV's we-suddenly-don't-like-the-Bushes-much era. (Wednesdays on ABC)


  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Reunited We Stand
  • Reunited We Stand

    With major provisions of Trump's executive order put on temporary hold, 11 Iraqi refugees reunite with their families in Spokane
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • Working Blue
  • Working Blue

    Spokane police officer under fire for profanity; plus, Tomi Lahren — and her opinions — are coming to town
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'
  • 'Cautiously Optimistic'

    Spokane Public Schools has seen improvement since committing to reducing suspensions, but the hardest part is yet to come
    • Feb 16, 2017
  • More »


Comments are closed.

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
Black Lunch Table: Wikipedia Editathon

Black Lunch Table: Wikipedia Editathon @ Terrain

Tue., Feb. 21, 6-9 p.m.

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Luke Baumgarten

  • Chasing Whales
  • Chasing Whales

    Let's focus less on courting big companies and focus more on nurturing big ideas
    • Feb 5, 2015
  • Completely Repellent
  • Completely Repellent

    How can we expect people to find constructive uses for space that wasn't built for them?
    • Dec 30, 2014
  • Screw Big Cities
  • Screw Big Cities

    A mid-sized manifesto
    • Dec 3, 2014
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment


green zone



do something

Readers also liked…

  • Shake Down
  • Shake Down

    When an earthquake rocks Western WA, what will happen in the Inland Northwest?
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Patrolling While Black
  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation