Friday, October 05, 2007

'FNL' On Fridays - Marketing Genius!

Tonight marks the return of one of TV's best shows as "Friday Night Lights" (NBC, 9 p.m.) is back. At least with the show's timeslot being the same now as the title, maybe a few more viewers will find it this season.

People who didn't want to watch "FNL" often complained they didn't want to devote their time to a show about high school football. "FNL" has about as much to do with high school football as "Grey's Anatomy" has to do with sharp medical writing.

"FNL" is a wonderful and realistic slice of Americana, how these characters try to keep their hopes and dreams alive in a stifling, dead-end town in Texas. Football is what binds the community together, but it's only a small part of what is going on.

Having seen the first three episodes of "FNL" this season, the series shows little signs of dropping off, despite a major blunder (IMHO) in the first episode.

It's the end of summer in Dillon, Texas, and school is about to begin. Former Panthers coach Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler) is now beginning his duties as a college coach while his wife (Connie Britton; how she never even got an Emmy nomination is one of the great mysteries of life) is VERY pregnant. Daughter Julie is ignoring current beau, Panthers QB Matt Saracen, in favor of a good-looking, older lifeguard at the pool where they work.

Team fullback Tim Riggins has fallen off the wagon - again - while his former best friend Jason Street is adjusting to life as an assistant coach. Street's former girlfriend, Lyla, has found God. Her father, team booster Buddy Garrity, is being shut out of Panthers practices by the team's new no-nonsense head coach (Chris Mulkey). Finally, Matt's geeky best friend, Landry, is trying out for the team in hopes of impressing would-be girlfriend Tyra.

The Landry-Tyra stuff is mostly great, especially when Landry maps out a gameplan for wooing her with Matt. The scenes with Buddy, who has lost both his family and Panthers football, are also top-notch.

There is a major plot point in tonight's episode that was a mis-step by the writers, though. Two of the show's characters are stuck in a bad situation, and how they deal with it was too over-the-top, in my opinion. Unfortunately, the action will drive certain plot points at least over the next two episodes and possibly over much of the season. i won't spoil what happens here, but you will be able to recognize what I am talking about when you see it.

In spite of the mis-step, "FNL" doesn't show any signs of surrendering its claim as one of TV's most riveting dramas. Hey, even the Panthers didn't have a perfect season last year, and they still won the state title.

WEEKEND'S BEST BETS: Normally, I don't plug reruns, but if you missed the debut of TV's best new show Wednesday, ABC is re-airing the pilot (or, rather, "Pie-lette") of "Pushing Daisies" at 8 p.m.

"Numb3rs" (CBS, 10 p.m.) is all-new, as Don & Co. investigate a Hollywood murder involving an actor. Just want to point out, the script I sent the producers over the summer was about a Hollywood murder involving a writer, but no, I'm not bitter or anything. It follows new installments of "Ghost Whisperer" at 8 p.m. and "Moonlight" at 9 p.m. Incidentally, tonight's "Moonlight" was written by former "Angel" writer David Greenwalt, so it may be worth checking out.

"Las Vegas," (NBC, 10 p.m.) featuring new lead Tom Selleck, airs after "FNL."

"Doctor Who" (Sci-Fi, 8 p.m.) wraps up Season 3 (or Season 29, depending on how you count) as Martha Jones must save a devastated Earth from The Master (guest star John Simm, "Life On Mars"). My only complaint about the season finales of this series is why must I wait so long between seasons, and how will they top this finale next year? It's followed by "Flash Gordon" at 9 p.m., featuring a guest appearance by 1980 Flash Sam J. Jones. Why they go to the trouble of getting Jones but not using the Queen theme song is beyond me. A new "Stargate: Atlantis" is at 10 p.m.

Speaking of Sci-Fi, if you can't wait for "Battlestar Galactica: Razor," set to air next month, there will be a two-minute preview during tonight's "Flash Gordon."

"Torchwood," (BBC America, Sat., 9 p.m.) is all-new Saturday.

Hey, you know what else is new Saturday? "Saturday Night Live" (NBC, 11:30 p.m.), featuring Seth Rogen, with musical guest Spoon.

On Sunday, Fox is all-new with its animaton block, starting with "The Simpsons" and followed by "King of the Hill," "Family Guy" and "American Dad." CBS counters with a 90-minute "60 Minutes" at 7:30 p.m., followed by "Cold Case" and "Shark."

ABC's prime time soaps are also new, with "Desperate Housewives," featuring new cast additions Dana Delany and Nathan Fillion (almost enough to make me check it out again, but not quite) and "Brothers & Sisters."

"The Inspector Lynley Mysteries" (PBS, 9 p.m.) return after a brief hiatus, while The CW debuts a new family drama, "Life Is Wild" (CW, 8 p.m.) Based on a BBC series, it's about a New York veternarian who uproots his family to live in South Africa for a year.

Finally, the pick of the night is "Dexter" (Showtime, 9 p.m.), which was brilliant in its debut last week and should only get better with the addition of "Hustle's" Jaime Murray to the cast as a woman Dexter finally opens up to. It's followed by a new episode of "Brotherhood" at 10 p.m.


Jonathan said...

Glad you mentioned "Dexter." That was probably the best season premiere of a new show that I've seen this season. Loved the sarcastic plug of SNL as well. Can't wait to watch FNL tonight; good to hear it still seems to be on track.

zodin2008 said...

Phillip maybe sarcastic about SNL but because it features Seth Rogen, I know he'll be watching it.

At least the potentially "bad" FNL plot point WON'T be featuring Rosie O'Donnell. I was really scared for a while she was going to guest star - thank GOD she isn't. Let her stick wtih ridiculous dreck like "Nip/Tuck".

Phillip Ramati said...

Sarcastic? Moi?

Actually, I won't be watching it.

hotspur said...

Did "Numb3rs" use parts of your script ? If so that should be worth a couple of million

What happened to "Ugly Betty"? It is actully unwatchable. Did they change the writers ?

I now don't watch any of the top ten shows. Maybe I am getting too old !!

PBS "Mystery" is one of the best shows year in ,year out. Why have they taken off "Masterpiece Theatre" ? Alwas a great series.

Phillip Ramati said...

I haven't seen Ugly Betty from last night yet, so I can't say.

I don't think Numb3rs used anything from script, so sadly, I remain poor.

Mystery and Masterpiece Theatre generally alternate their individual series, so there should be a new Masterpiece coming out relatively soon.

zodin2008 said...

I haven't watched "Betty" yet but I liked the season premier just fine.

zodin2008 said...

Two shows that I caught up non over the weekend:

First, I finally watched the 2nd episode of "Betty" and again, I really don't understand the criticisms. The show has been very strong so far, mixing in it's eclectic mix of soapy elements and with lots of farce and comedy.

The tone is how it should be - I would argue "Betty" is off to a better season 2 start than the highly uneven "Heroes".

We finally watched episode #1 of "Pushing Daisies" and I have to say, thumb way up. The show was so good, definitely the best new show of the year, that I won't both with recording the mediocre "Back to You" opposite it.

Yes, I liked "Back to you" more than you Phillip, but it's really only had one hysterical episode of 3 we've seen - not a great ratio.

But now "Back to You" seems REALLY mediocre compared with something as fantastic as "Daisies". I also agree that the leads, Lee Pace and Anna friel are terrific. Friel is absolutely adorable.

Phillip Ramati said...

Some people don't like saying "I told you so," but for me, those are my four favorite words in the English language. :-)

Glad you enjoyed Pushing Daisies, and I think I was fairly on in my assessment of Back To You.