"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Friday Night Lights: Best Laid Plans

One of the things I praise this show for is how well acted it is. Yet I think this episode might have set a new high mark.

I'm talking specifically about the argument Eric and Tami had over her proposal that she and Julie stay in Dillon while Eric goes to Austin. It's great writing to start with, and performed amazingly by Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton.

Over the course of this TV season I have learned a lot about their relationship. They are one of the great television couples, but part of what makes them so great is their imperfections. I get the chance to see the happy, madly in love Taylors, but I also get to see the struggling, fighting Taylors. My favorite part was Eric's admission, "I'm not mature, I can't handle that." They are endlessly fascinating to me.

As long as I'm throwing around accolades for great acting, I should toss some at the fellow who plays Landry. This is not the Landry that I first met early in the season. His line to Saracen, "I'm just here for the comic relief for the star quarterback?" was interesting. That could have very easily been the arc of the Landry character, and it probably would have been just fine. Every now and again he'd pop up and say something witty, then step aside. This was so much better. Confiding in Saracen, his talk with Tami, being crushed by Tyra's misplaced anger, right on through their final conversation at the roast. It was all very good.

I liked how they left it too. Landry was a little harsh, but it was a big step for him. The easy thing would have been to fall right back into that puppy dog role and be glad for the attention from Tyra. Instead, he laid out all of his feelings and gave her something to think about. I thought that based on her look as he left, he got the message across.

Speaking of the roast, I liked the tension underneath what was outwardly a very happy-go-lucky time. With all of the disapproving looks from Saracen, and the fight that resumed between Eric and Tami, it seemed like there was a chance that the whole thing would just go off the rails and turn into a skewering of Eric as everyone asked, "Why are you leaving us?"

Tami's too good for that though, and I thought her speech was great. Sure, she was funny and charming, and Eric certainly does have, as Buddy put it, "a good one." The great part of the scene for me though, was that she was standing there in front of all those people, but really just making her case to Eric.

Eric's decision and how the Taylor family is going to deal with it did dominate the episode, but there were some smaller bits of the story worth noting. Buddy and Pam getting a divorce wasn't much of a surprise. I did like the way she corrected him though. "You're gonna see them every other weekend."

There wasn't a lot of screen time given to what is going on between Smash and Waverly, but I do really like that part of the story. They really have done a nice job of growing Smash's character. Much like Landry, he could have easily been relegated to the background, but the show is better for the time they have spent developing him.

I'm not sure if that was the end of Street and Lyla or not. It could be, but it just seems like that one still has some legs. It's not going to be pretty, and I've long since given up on any kind of hearts and flowers reconciliation. Not done yet though.

Either way, I have really enjoyed all of the scenes with Street and Susie, so I'm ok with Lyla moving on. Coach Street was fun to see too. I liked how he fell right into step with Eric when they started talking to Saracen. And hey, if Eric is getting a job in Austin, doesn't Susie live in Austin? Things are lining up for Street.

It's probably time to drop the Tim and just go back to talking about Riggins. It seems that Jackie finally wised up and realized that getting involved with a high school kid that has his own truckload of baggage isn't the best thing for her or her little boy. I'm not surprised, but I thought that would come some time after the mysterious husband/father showed up to flesh out Jackie's backstory.

So here I sit. One episode to go in what has been a great first season. I've got some big questions looming with that last episode. Will the Panthers win it all? Will Eric stay in Dillon after Tami told him she's not going to Austin? And most importantly, will I get a second season? My guesses, yes to all.

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