After the jump, spoiler-laden notes on Wednesday's "Friday Night Lights" telecast (only on DirecTV) and, briefly, "Modern Family."
Today's mailbag column is here. Topics include the banjo-playing kid in "Deliverance."
After a somewhat rocky start a week ago, "Friday Night Lights" rebounded very well with its second fourth-season episode, "After the Fall."
To be sure, there are only so many things you can do with a sports narrative, and the team deserting after the forfeit was reminiscent of, among other things, the original "Bad News Bears" movie, and the one-by-one reuniting of the team is a device in a lot of movies. (The jersey scene in "Rudy" comes to mind.) And the genius-artist teaching a rough lesson also feels like a million other movies.
But with these actors and characters, the lunchroom scene with Landy and the team-reuniting scene still both worked. I was moved by the reunion scene in spite of myself.
I also like that Eric really doesn't quite know what to do, and that Luke is a decent kid who realizes he has done wrong and wants to be decent.
And it's fine that we are seeing another part of Dillon -- that the students and families who have dominated the show up to now are actually from the better-off parts of town -- although the show should have given us a closer look at those neighborhoods before now.
Also good that, as we have seen before, while Joe McCoy has a certain cunning and a brutal power in town, he's not half as clever as he thinks he is -- as Tami pointed out when she observed that his opening the fake-address issue would tick off far more of the town than her moving one player. And she didn't even have to remind everyone about the Voodoo Tatum scandal, and what that had jeopardized.
On the other hand, did anyone else who watched find the timing of the last few scenes a bit off? Eric's special practice was on Saturday night, and seemed to be part of the same day as the pep rally. But the rally looked as if it was taking place on a school day, and before a game, so that would be a Friday, yes? Or did both East and West Dillon somehow have a bye week?
Yet I still pretty much loved the episode.
"Modern Family" continues to be a half-hour family dramedy, willing to put aside farce in favor of plausible personal portraits, such as the brother-and-sister issues in this one. And the reactions to the story of Manny's competition were great -- although, like my buddy Sepinwall, I kept waiting for it to turn out that her nurse was trying a scam to win with. Having Manny proceed to victory, and a humiliating one at that, was a far more effective note for the show to hit. Loving this show.