Saturday, May 8, 2010

"Friday Night Lights" recap: We're not in Dillon anymore...

So, I'm going to try and recap as many episodes of the fourth season of "Friday Night Lights" as possible. Since it's been months since I originally saw them on DirecTV, I'll need to re-watch every episode. We'll see if I actually have the initiative to do this.
Anyway, more on the season four premiere, "East of Dillon" after the break.

OK, I totally forgot how difficult the end of this episode was to watch. From the East Dillon Lions taking a pummeling in their first game, to their brave insistence on finishing the game at half-time to Coach Taylor's decision to forfeit the game, it was all just brutal.
I knew that it would be a rough start for the coach at East Dillon. After all, half of his team has never played football before and his field and equipment are in rough shape. But seeing poor Landry actually spitting blood in the locker room ... just awful.
Yet typical for this show -- and for the folks of Dillon, for whom nothing seems to go quite right. That includes Coach Taylor who, though undeniably this show's hero, almost always finds himself up against terrible odds. Most of the time, he triumphs. But he is human, and even he can't magically turn around the situation at East Dillon in his first week.
Meanwhile, Coach isn't the only one having a hard week. His wife Tami has to deal not only with the increasingly smug Joe McCoy and his lackey Wade, she's got a mob of angry parents after her head for the redistricting of Dillon  (which really isn't her fault). Coach's former star players Matt Saracen and Tim Riggins are facing tough times of their own. Matt seems increasingly sorry about his decision to stay in Dillon, particularly when little snot-pants J.D. McCoy starts in on him. Tim almost immediately drops out of college, much to the horror of his brother, who can't handle having to support Tim and a new baby.
And Coach's daughter Julie is so embarrassed about going to Dillon while her friends attend East Dillon that she switches schools.
Yes, things are looking bleak in Dillon. But there are some bright spots, including the arrival of a troubled but talented new player at East Dillon, and Coach's adoption of a goofy but well-meaning Sears salesman as an assistant coach.
Here are some more thoughts on "East of Dillon."
* Despite all this grimness, the premiere has lots of funny moments -- my favorite of which has to be Coach finding the raccoon in the locker room. And Kyle Chandler's deadpan delivery of the line "You know there's a raccoon in here?" is awesome.
* I also loved Tami helplessly bleating "No! No!" at Julie after the younger Taylor makes the decision to swap schools. Tami tries so hard to be strong and capable, yet is often knocked off her feet but her strong-willed daughter. That dynamic is always fun to watch and Connie Britton (Tami) and Aimee Teegarden (Julie) have a great prickly chemistry together.
* Yes, that's Michael B. "Wallace" Jordan as new recruit Vince Howard. Took me a second to recognize him as the kid from the first season of "The Wire." So far, it's a promising character and it's nice to see this talented young actor getting more good material.
* My dad has had a lifelong vendetta against Sears. I've never understood it, but maybe he once ran into a salesman like Stan and was too terrified to return?
* It's one of the signature lines of the season, but hearing Becky uttering "What does it feel like to be the guy who used to be Tim Riggins?" made me want to slap her all over again.
* The dialogue on this show ranges from perfect (Tim Riggins referring to the color of the baby's room as "puke") to incredibly cheesy and over the top. The clearest example of the latter? J.D. McCoy bellowing "This is MY Dillon now!" as Matt leaves the Panther party. Good grief.

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