Release Date: Fridays, 12:05 A
Summer is on the horizon and paradoxically the brighter the weather, the darker the television schedule becomes. Yes, we’re about to enter the non-ratings period when networks put placeholder programs where all the good shows used to be. But if you don’t mind staying up, or you can program a DVR, Friday Night Lights offers a welcome respite for viewers tired of re-runs.
Friday Night Lights is a five season television series inspired by the 2004 film and best-selling book of the same name. This small town drama is based around the life and times of the Permian Panthers, a high school football team based in the Texan town of Dillon. The Panthers have a proud tradition that includes several state championships, though success has been eluding them for several years. The first season opens with the good ol’ boys who financially back the team putting their faith in a new coach to lead a resurgence, the straight-talking Eric Taylor (Kyle Chandler recently of Argo and Super 8). However Coach Taylor soon learns that his support can quickly evaporate if he doesn’t bring home the right results. Not an easy task when the team is rocked by the star quarterback breaking his back, and other key teens struggling to cope with their sudden elevation into the limelight.
The ABC is currently running the second season of what is one of the most engaging dramas to hit television in years. I initially thought I would struggle given that I’m not much of a fan of Australian football, let alone the American code. However when I finally bowed to the pressure from friends to slip a DVD into the machine I found myself hooked after the third episode. There are lots of things to recommend the show – believable characters, real-life struggles, insights into an amazing micro-culture – but one of the surprising pay-offs is the moral content.
Most of the people of Dillon are God-fearing Texans who find themselves in a variety of churches on Sunday. Now, of course, they have a mixture of reasons for doing so, not the least being keeping up appearances or catching the eye of a potential girlfriend. That’s just as it is in the real world. But there are also some Christian characters who crop up to offer sound advice or prayer at times that can be quite inspiring. Of course this isn’t a religious drama but it’s refreshing to watch a group of characters whose moral compasses aren’t constantly re-aligning to whatever gets them what they want. In fact, watched over all five seasons, you end up seeing spiritual problems like teenage promiscuity and unfaithfulness in marriage play out in very realistic ways. Likewise you see the integrity of characters tested by fire till it shines in an equally believable way.
Coach Taylor is the moral centre of the series and though we never hear him utter a Christian syllable we do see him espouse principals that a Christian wouldn’t be ashamed to call their own. Be true to your word; care for others even when it’s not convenient; be prepared to sacrifice for the sake of a crown of glory. Given all the other things that are on television today, Friday Night Lights is the sort of show that could safely see you through the holiday doldrums.