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Welcome Back, "Friday Night Lights"

By admin Published: October 1, 2008

Third season begins at 9 tonight on DirecTV

I watched the third-season premiere of "Friday Night Lights" after watching the second-season premiere of "Private Practice." While I didn't dislike "PP" (see previous post below), the viewing still showed the difference between an all right show and a very good one. ...

To be clear, "Private Practice" is all right, but "FNL" is a cut above. And there was plenty of reason to be concerned about "FNL." After an inspiring first season, it stumbled very badly in the second, especially with the Tyra-Landry killing storyline, before showing signs of recovery at season's end. Then there is the whole new-distribution deal, which has DirecTV partly underwriting the show in exchange for the first telecasts of the third season's 13 episodes; that means you have to have the satellite service to see it tonight, with NBC showing it in 2009.

But most of those concerns washed away when I watched tonight's show. Oh, there have been changes. Smash has graduated, trying to come back from a knee injury and without a college. Tami is now the school principal -- and has a whole lot more work than Rob Estes's West Beverly High School principal on "90210." (More about that show later.) Saracen has a challenger for starting quarterback, and that challenger's father is a very big thorn in Coach's side. Tyra has to think harder about her ambitions. And there are the continuing sagas of Lyla (now bunking with Buddy) and Riggins.

Best of all, in the series premiere, nobody gets killed. There's a lot of stuff about football but even more about the characters' relationships and interconnections, and more beyond that about what it takes to (a) get out of Dillon or (b) staying there and still finding fulfillment. Lots of good moments, too, nifty little turns in the dialogue (learn what it means to be a "rebound for Jesus"), and terrific acting. Do I have to say again how terrific Connie Britton is? Or Kyle Chandler? Or Adrianne Palicki?

My main concern about the show is that it has such a large cast to serve, characters can get elbowed aside in a specific episode. (Julie gets a couple of scenes but it appears there's a lot more going on with her than we see in the premiere. On the other hand, even though Smash and Street have been reduced to recurring characters -- and Street is seen only in a video -- Smash gets a lot of air time in the premiere. So I'm hoping that there will be some balancing over the course of the 13-episode season.) And there appears to be some diminishing of the budget; a pep rally looks poorly attended, and the football scenes are less impressive than in previous seasons.

But I am glad to have it back. Not sure how much or how often I will be able to post about it, since I don't have DirecTV. Still, based on the season premiere, I want to see much, much more.

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