This show has got the goods. Last fall, when I was in full TV overload, Friday Night Lights was just one of a number of impressive pilots offered by NBC. These days, however, it's one of only two or three shows I've stuck with through the entire 06-07 season. Studio 60 sort of fizzled and imploded on its way to a slow, painful death. Heroes got bogged down by a lack of zip and interesting characterization. Kidnapped....well, I'm not sure what the hell happened there. How long did it even last -- three episodes? But FNL. It just kept getting better and better.
One of my favorite parts of the show -- besides the acting and the writing and the camera-work and the attention to small detail and the acting (again) -- is the music. I try to forget how often craptastic music has laid low some of my favorite shows (J.J. Abrams choice of 75% absolute shite in the background and foreground and montages of Alias quickly springs to mind). But Friday Night Lights must have some smart people in their music licensing department. Over the course of 20 episodes so far, we've heard music from Explosions in the Sky, Iron & Wine, Spoon, Jose Gonzalez, TV on the Radio, Heartless Bastards, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, the Old 97s, the Go! Team, Whiskeytown, a Daniel Johnston cover, Camera Obscura, Beulah, Broken Social Scene and the Stooges. Even appearances by Justin Timberlake and TobyMac (yes, that TobyMac) seemed to fit seamlessly into the fabric of the show. And I'll say it again, yes that TobyMac.
It helps, that a show this good doesn't distract by employing a terrible soundtrack. It makes the acting and the writing and the camera-work and the attention to small detail and the acting (again) all the more powerful and moving. That I enjoy this show, and that I enjoy Iron & Wine, and that this show enjoys Iron & Wine, sort of brings everything to a harmonious full circle. Yes, that's cheesy. But it's also transcendent. And it's what elevates Friday Night Lights head and shoulders above most of the schlock on TV these days.
And it's just one of the elements that make Friday Night Lights the best hour of television you'll find, this week, last week, and all season long. Keep your fingers crossed for a second season, because if any freshmen show deserves a year two, it's FNL.
*Screencap courtesy of Friday Night Lights Online.