FNL and the Second Half Collapse

Even with three months of the strike behind us, I’m still almost not quite caught up with Friday Night Lights. I started with the season 1 DVD in the fall and am now only two episodes behind with episodes.
But for everything that the series did right in season 1, season 2 just hasn’t clicked in the same way.
The football games have fallen to the background, which seems out of place when season 1 established that the most important thing in Dillon is Dillon HS football.
Or, as usual with most things TV-related, go read Sepinwall:

“I’ve had lots of problems with “FNL” season two, but none moreso than the way the show has completely lost track of the damn team. We’ve seen, what, six games in 13 episodes? (With Smash playing terribly in almost all of them, which makes his big college recruiting story seem doubly baffling.) And now there are only three more before the playoffs start? And we spend an entire episode with zero football action or practice, but with a subplot devoted to the girls’ volleyball team?
I know the company line is that “FNL” isn’t really about football, but that’s just a lie to lure in the people who would otherwise refuse to watch a show about football — and who, based on the ratings for season two, aren’t going to watch anyway. Season one was absolutely about football, and that’s what made it great. It was about how a town defined itself through this team and how the pressure of being that defining element shaped the lives of the coaches, the players and their friends and family. There was plenty of action that took place away from the gridiron, but the season was always there in the background. We were always aware of how the Panthers were doing, how Saracen and Smash and Riggins were playing, how secure Eric’s job was, etc.
Football was the foundation on which everything else was built, and now it’s become this obligatory thing that the writers feel like they have to bring up from time to time, when they’d rather be spending time on another romance or crime plot.”

The pressure on the coach and the team from the talk radio, boosters, and everyone else in Dillon shaped characters and relationships, but we haven’t seen that since Coach returned to Dillon. That’s one reason why the characters seem to be in a vacuum. Foorball is what brings everyone in Dillon together, and without it, the characters are all off in little groups doing their own thing without any other context.
If there’s going to be no attention to the football details that were the basis of the world of Dillon in season 1, why not keep season 2 in the same school year after the championship? This way, there’s no need to fudge that Riggins and Lyla weren’t also originally seniors in the same class as Street.
How does the show reboot for season 3 (assuming that there is one)? First, bring in new characters to fill in for Smash and Riggins on the team and maybe add some more non-QB, non-RB characters into the mix. A lineman, a wideout, a backup. At the same time, don’t lose Smash or Riggins. Wouldn’t The Smash not be quite the big fish in college he is in Dillon? How would Riggins deal with graduating and being stuck in Dillon (besides dating the MILF next door or living with the town Meth dealer)?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *