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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Kyle Chandler Lights Up My Friday Night


I've been a fan of Kyle Chandler's ever since he appeared as baseball player Jeff Metcalf on TV's Homefront (1991-93), a wonderful show that should've lasted more than two seasons. The talented actor is no longer a young hunk, but he's still mighty fine for 43--and his latest series, Friday Night Lights, is another underrated drama that deserves to find a much larger audience. Hopefully people will finally discover it in its third season, which began last night on NBC.

I liked the 2004 film version of Friday Night Lights, which was directed by Peter Berg and starred Billy Bob Thornton as the coach of a high school football team in a small Texas town. When Berg developed it into a television series in 2006, the show was warmly embraced by critics, but viewers stayed away--including myself. Despite the handsome presence of Mr. Chandler, the idea of a weekly show about football just didn't appeal to me--and at the time I really wasn't interested in expanding my already full plate of television viewing. It also didn't help that the show was moved around a lot--from Tuesdays to Wednesdays and now on Fridays (which seems only fitting). The series has always been struggling to reach a wider audience, so I'm hoping with its 13-episode third season, it will finally find its way into the homes of many more folks. And FNL has found at least one new fan--me!

While watching last night's episode, I slowly became involved with the various dramas going on in the town of Dillon, Texas. Although the show does center around a football team, which is the lifeblood of the small community, it's more about the people who live there:

While head coach Eric Taylor (Chandler) is trying to put together a winning team, his wife, Tami (played by the wonderful Connie Britton, who also starred in the film version), has just become the new principal of the school with all the headaches that accompany such an important position. The couple also has to deal with their teenage daughter, Julie (Aimee Teegarden), who's feeling a bit neglected due to her parents' busy schedules.

Hunky jock Tim Riggins (Taylor Kitsch, who exudes charm and testosterone by the bucketfuls) is still quite popular with all the young ladies, despite his secret relationship with Lyla Garrity (the lovely Minka Kelly), who is on the rebound from Jesus (she used to be very religious). Is their romance just a summer fling--or is it the real thing? I think it's the latter, and having enjoyed their scenes together, I'm hoping they'll continue as a couple.

And then there's Tyra Collette, who once was the town vixen, but she's turned over a new leaf and now wants to get into a good college--and, more importantly, get out of Dillon. She's afraid she might turn into her mother or her sister (who's just become engaged to Tim's brother) and be trapped in small town hell forever. Unfortunately, her previous life as a good-time party girl caused her grades to suffer, so she's going to have to work hard now to achieve her dream. Fortunately, Tami Taylor cares about the young woman and her future, and their friendship is one of the more interesting storylines of the show. It also doesn't hurt to have an excellent actress playing Tyra, and Adrianne Palicki perfectly conveys the character's hopes and frustrations. All of the acting on FNL is first-rate, but Ms. Palicki shines just a bit brighter--at least in last night's episode.

Another well-written relationship on the show is between Coach Taylor and his former star player, Smash Williams (an impressive Gaius Charles), who seriously injured his knee and lost his college scholarship last season. The young man was about to give up trying to regain his former football glory, but it seems like the coach's inspiring words may have made an impression on him. We'll have to wait and see if Smash makes it to a college football field with Taylor's help.

One more character worth mentioning is quarterback Matt Saracen (a cute Zach Gilford), whose position on the team is being usurped by JD McCoy, a newcomer from Dallas. J.D.'s rich daddy is the "stud of suds" (he runs a beer company), and he wants his boy to be the star quarterback of the team, which might just happen as Coach Taylor really wants to win. But this leaves poor Matt out in the cold.

So, as you can see, there's a heckuva lot going on in Dillon and on FNL. By the end of the hour-long show, I was completely hooked. Great acting and wonderful writing combined with the realistic look and feel of a small town (it's filmed in Texas) make for a series that should be required viewing of each and every one of us. It's that good. Trust me. I wouldn't steer you wrong. If you don't believe me, tune in next Friday and see for yourself. You just might fall in love with Friday Night Lights--and, of course, the dreamy eyes of Mr. Chandler.

6 comments:

Maryilee said...

I'm so glad that the show ha another fan. I've been a fan from day one and would love to have more company on the sidelines.

I've seen this season already, and I won't spoil it for you, but let me just say that this first episode, while good, has more exposition than most of the episodes. It was clearly intended to get new viewers and to catch regular viewers up on what had been going on since the last season ended. That's a good thing, but I just wanted to let you know that the episodes just get better and better. First season was like that too. I kept waiting for a bad episode and it never came.

Deep Dish said...

Thanks so much for your comment, Maryilee. I'm glad to hear that the rest of this season gets even better. Looking forward to it!

ElevenGirl said...

Hi,

Hope you don't mind - I posted a link to your blog on my Kyle Chandler fandom.

You can view it at:
www.kylechandlercentral.com

Thanks!

ElevenGirl

Deep Dish said...

I'm thrilled that you posted a link to my blog, ElevenGirl! And I like your Kyle Chandler page--very nice.

fsawyers said...

I just ran across your blog about Kyle as I was surfing the web looking up things about him. I don't know how I missed this when you first posted it on Facebook. I'm glad to know someone else admires him as much as I do. Fred

Deep Dish said...

Hey, Fred, I've always liked Kyle ever since his Homefront days - and I'm looking forward to the new season of "FNL" next month!

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