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"Friday Night Lights": No No No ...

By admin Published: November 19, 2007

Smash and mom
More with characters like Smash and his mom, please. This can be such a great family drama.

I'm a little late to the discussion about last week's "FNL," but let me add my unease to that being felt elsewhere in the blogosphere.

There were good things, to be sure. Tami roping the girls into handling the Pantherama entertainment. (Line of the year: "Oh, honey, you are not using Jesus Christ our Lord as an excuse not to help your counselor, are you?)

The Smash story, and especially the presence of Smash's mom, who should be on camera far more often. (Another great line: "I'm not asking you to be this boy's daddy. I'm just here to remind you -- he doesn't have one.")

I also want to see more of Buddy and Santiago the troubled football recruit. Not only because Buddy is one of my favorite characters but because there's an intriguing double-redemption thing going on there: the kid trying to rebuild his life and play football, Buddy trying to prove that he can, with a second chance, be the family man he once imagined himself.

And, in the dance number, there was that great little character note of Landry keeping his undershirt on while all the other guys are barechested. Modesty, insecurity, whatever -- it was so Landry.

Then there were the other, not-good parts.

Even if the killing wasn't part of the episode, it hangs there, and we're now being promised the big confessional moment in two weeks. Maureen Ryan of the Chicago Tribune says in her blog that that episode on Dec. 7 "is supposed to wrap up the Landry-Tyra-dead guy story line once and for all." I hope so; NBC's plot tag for the episode says "Landry (Jesse Plemons) confesses to the murder of Tyra’s (Adrianne Palicki) assaulter but continues to struggle with his conscience."

But with the killing on the sideline in last week's show, "FNL"
still managed to raise the ick factor. There was Julie's bonding with her new, male teacher in a way that would have been inappropriate in life as well as on TV. I know, nothing happened, but I would have expected no-nonsense Tami to give him a warning about appearances and being alone in a classroom with a female student.

And then, what genius has made Saracen rampaging stud boy? Julie is pining, he's got that little cookie at school and his grandmother's caregiver, after initial reluctance, sure looked warm for Saracen in the episode's waning moments.

I know that you can't do a high-school show without some romantic travails, but this is all way too "90210" for a show that has made its mark as being much smarter and caring.

While I grabbed at "90210" as a convenience, Daniel Fienberg added the detail of a chronic viewer: "His Noah Barnett, the hip young English teacher and newspaper advisor, is the unholy spawn of Michael St. Gerard's Chris Suiter, failed actor and student predator, and Mark Kiely's Gil Meyers, advisor on the West Beverly Blaze and alleged student predator."

In his blog, Fienberg goes on to make a couple of other key points:

How old is Sexy Nurse Carlotta supposed to be? The show's message when it comes to age-problematic relationships is simple: Icky Stoner The Swede or Pretentious Teacher going after Julie? Baaaaaad. Riggins going after the MILF Next Door or Matt flirting with Sexy Nurse Carlotta? Intriguing. Except that I'm not. Intrigued, I mean. And I won't even begin to get into the racial dynamics of uber-honky Matt turning to sexy Latina Carlotta to give his stripping the necessary spice.

So even if the Landry-Tyra story gets wrapped up, there are abundant problems facing the show right now.

Couple of other points:

-- Are we really done with the question of Coach's paycheck? Yes, he got more money as the athletic director (another plot line that got elbowed aside this week), but he's still getting less than he did before, and with a new baby. I hope there's more coming with that.

-- Exactly how tall is Palicki? Or, more correctly, how shrimpy are the Dillon players? Tyra was towering over just about everyone in last week's episode, no matter what angle the scene was shot from.

At the end of the day, I'm glad I tuned in for the Smash stuff, including Coach's chat with the recruiter and then Smash.

But the show still feels unformed. It's as if they hit the ground with a first season that had all the assurance of a show that has worked out the bugs in the first season, and have now backtracked creatively, leaving bugs scattered all over.

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