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Curtains for ''Friday Night Lights''? A dark day for Dalton

See why the future of the Glutton’s happy home may rest on NBC’s decision about renewing the great, if ratings-challenged, ”Friday Night Lights.” Plus: NYC rock tours, Five Take-No-Guff TV Wives, and your mail

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Friday Night Lights
Michael Muller

Curtains for ”Friday Night Lights”? A dark day for Dalton

My marriage is in trouble. I’m not talking about some stupid fight regarding whose turn it is to take out the trash (mine, incidentally). I’m talking about something that could tear an otherwise solid relationship apart. And it’s all Matt Saracen’s fault. And Jason Street’s. And Tim Riggins’s. Anyone even remotely associated with NBC’s Friday Night Lights — I blame you.

Okay, let me back up a bit. It started just the other week as I watched FNL‘s season finale. I had never bothered to introduce my significant other to the show, because, well, she likes football about as much as she likes my Star Wars lightsaber collection — which is to say, not very much — so I viewed the entire season by myself. But then something else dawned on me: Christina loves teen shows. I mean, loves them. She was a 90210 fan, a My So-Called Life devotee; hell, she even worshipped Life As We Know It, a show that starred freakin’ Kelly Osbourne. She watched Reunion, and was one of the few, the not-so-proud, who stayed with The O.C. to the bitter, bitter end. It occurred to me that, hey, Friday Night Lights is as much — if not more — a teen show than it is a football drama. So I implored her to give it a chance. To my shock, she agreed (again, we’re talking about football here). We had the first nine episodes on DVD. We watched one. Then we watched another. Then I went to bed, and she watched two more. Next night, same drill. She went through episodes the way I go through cans of Milwaukee’s Best. Only she didn’t wake up with a headache in the morning.

Now, I know what you’re thinking: How is your marriage in trouble? You’ve found a show you both love! What’s the problem? Well, the first problem is that when I asked Christina whether she was a Street girl or a Riggins girl, she replied emphatically, ”Riggins!” This means she digs the bad boy, and not being a bad boy myself by any stretch of the imagination, this causes me some concern. (She in turn inquired whether I was a Lyla or Tyra guy, which I refused to answer because I am smart and realize that either answer would come back to haunt me in the long run.) The bigger problem, however, is this: I’m out of episodes. Like an addict that is being denied her fix, my wife is going through serious withdrawal symptoms. She actually ordered me to not come home until I got more DVDs (which might explain why I remain typing here at 10:23 in the evening). Luckily, I have my sources. My peeps over at NBC Universal have taken pity upon me and are hooking Christina up with the rest of the season.

Whew — crisis averted. But for how long? Sure, we’ll get a dozen more episodes, but at this rate that’ll take her about a weekend to plow through them. What then? In case you hadn’t noticed — and judging by the ratings, you hadn’t — Friday Night Lights is not exactly what you’d call an audience favorite. A critical darling, to be sure, but a seriously low-rated one. I thought that the glowing reviews would guarantee the show a second season, but then 30 Rock was renewed, and now I’m not so sure. You see, while one show might be about high school football in Texas, and the other might be about the wacky goings-on at a New York sketch comedy show, both are critically lauded and ratings challenged. It’s okay to have one such program on your roster, but two? I think the return of 30 Rock makes FNL‘s return a bit dicer. Yes, six additional scripts have been ordered, but they are just that — scripts. That’s no big (financial) loss for the network if those words never make it to the screen.

And as much as I absolutely adore Friday Night Lights, I clearly recognize that this show will never, ever be a hit. What fans love about it — its realism and understated nature — does not appeal to mass audiences. Twenty million people are simply not going to watch a show with shaky cam shots of kids in a diner, so it’s hard for me to convince the powers-that-be to keep the show on the air in the hopes that it will suddenly do big numbers. Convincing NBC brass of the show’s excellence is also rather futile, because everyone that works there seems to be a big fan of the program. They know it’s good. So I am left to play the only card I have left — the preservation of my holy matrimony. Look, NBC, I have children — two of them! Do you want them to grow up in a broken home just because you benched what might be the best drama on network television? This will lead them down a dangerous path that will no doubt involve them lashing out by dyeing their hair blue and telling both of us to ”F— off!” (I know because that’s precisely what I did 20 years ago.) Are you sure you want that on your conscience? Not unlike Voodoo Tatum or Reyes, I’ll be kicked off my very own home team. (Unlike Voodoo and Reyes, however, I don’t believe myself to be a big-time jerk. Others may disagree.) I’m counting on you to do the right thing here, NBC. Because guess what? After my wife is done with me — she’s coming for you next.

OBSESSION OF THE WEEK

It’s nice to occasionally use this space to give props to the little guy (and I’m not referring to last week’s ”Obsession” who called me all sorts of horrible names). So here’s a tip for people visiting New York City and looking for something a bit off the beaten path to do. Ron Colinear (a.k.a. Bobby Pin) runs Rock Junket, a company that specializes in walking tours that showcase some of the people and places that made NYC rock ‘n’ roll history. This is the type of stuff you won’t see on your double-decker tour buses: the building that serves as the cover of Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti; the stoop and bar where the Rolling Stones hung out in the ”Waiting on a Friend” video; the former locations of CBGB’s, Fillmore East, Max’s Kansas City, and Andy Warhol’s Factory. The company runs five different tours, including ones that just cover the Beatles and Bob Dylan, so if you want to get a taste of rock history, and do tourist stuff without looking and acting like a tourist, this could be good call. I suppose I could tell you more about the different tours, but why do that when I can just be lazy and direct you to the site instead? Which I believe I will do right now: www.rockjunket.com.

THE FIVE

One of the things my wife loves about Friday Night Lights? The way Connie Britton’s character doesn’t take any crap from her husband. In fact, it inspired her to suggest a theme for this week: Christina Kelly’s Top Five TV Wives Who Give Their Husbands Hell.

1. Debra Barone of Everybody Loves Raymond

I think Debra Barone may be my wife’s hero. They say the best comedies are they ones which you can relate to. No wonder we both found this show so funny.

2. Mrs. Ari of Entourage

As much as Christina loves Jeremy Piven’s Ari, she loves Ari’s wife even more. Honestly, I don’t really get this. While on one hand, Mrs. Ari doesn’t stand for a lot of Ari’s junk, he still screams and walks out on therapy sessions, and continually bails on family events to go hang with Vince, so I have to question how ”whipped” he actually is.

3. Tami Taylor of Friday Night Lights

He’s moving to another town to coach football; she’s like, ”See ya!” — staying in Dillon with their daughter and unborn baby. Enough said.

4. Cheryl David of Curb Your Enthusiasm

I think she likes this because Larry David’s better half is constantly having to deal with — and correct — his enormous screw-ups. For my wife, it’s a solidarity thing.

5. Carrie Heffernan of The King of Queens

The wife is hot, the husband is not. Again, solidarity. Although I would like to point out that I weigh approximately 473 pounds less than Kevin James.

READER MAIL

I’m not alone. Well, actually, I was alone, and I wrote a whole column about it. But judging by your letters, it turns out I’m not the only one to fly solo at a concert. Others wanted to discuss their brushes with reality-star fame…if you want to call it that.

I’ve attended a couple of shows on my own (as opposed to alone). Sometimes it’s just easier than convincing a non-fan to go. Only once was it kinda awkward. I went to see Wilco at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis (4,000+ seats). I managed to land a seat in the pit (another good reason for going it alone at a show — single tickets are generally better seats), and arrived during the first song of the opener, Calexico. For the first 25 minutes it felt like it was just me and the band. We had a little awkward eye contact, but then I realized that I was liking my own private Calexico concert. The other seats filled in around me, and the folks were more than willing to strike up a conversation during the break between bands (many had known [Jeff] Tweedy during the Uncle Tupelo/Cicero’s years [Cicero’s is a small club near Washington University, where the band played on a regular basis]). All in all it was a hell of a night. —Ann Marie

Great story, Ann Marie, but just think — had you been able to convince someone to go with you, you could have doubled Calexico’s audience!

Dalton, I would gladly go to a Stooges concert with you. I’m a 19-year-old girl, and last year I went to two Who concerts alone and met some very nice (and absolutely insane) people who’d been Who fans for 20 years before I was born. That’s what concerts like that are about — you don’t need to go with someone just to go with someone, and maybe you even shouldn’t, because then you’ll be disappointed that they’re not having as great a time as you are and (in my case) that they don’t know how long the synthesizer entrance is in “Baba O’Riley” or can’t air-drum to the solo in “Won’t Get Fooled Again.” Whenever I see something I am passionately involved with (not obsessed, as my mother would say), I don’t want non-passionate people raining on my parade. —Kristina Caffrey

This is a great e-mail, Kristina, and you are totally right on about how you can go to a concert by yourself yet simultaneously feel part of a big scene — but damn you are making me feel old.

I’ve been to two concerts alone, both for my favorite band: Hanson. I’ve been a Fanson since ’97, but didn’t see them until ’03 and ’05. Both shows exceeded my every expectation. Now, I’m eagerly awaiting the release of their new album next month and hoping any subsequent tours bring them to Las Vegas once again. Only one problem…now that I have a boyfriend who actually enjoys their music, I’m not sure I want anyone who knows me to see how I act at these shows. It’s one thing to see me dance around our house…does he need to see me in full, concert-going freak-out mode? I guess I’ll have to wait and see. —Dacia Lower

Dacia, I love the fact that there is such a term as ”Fanson.” Totally made my day. And yes, you should definitely let him see you in full, concert-going freak-out mode. If he doesn’t run for the hills, it was meant to be.

I had to write in about meeting/spotting reality stars. One time, Kathy from Survivor Marquesas and All-Stars was in town here for a charity signing event. I made my husband come with me. I waited in line behind small children. I bought my buff (red) and then my turn came. I giggled like one of those small kids ahead of me. I started to sweat and turned bright red. I stammered my words but managed to make her understand that I was asking her to pose with me for a picture. I was ecstatic!!!! I had my husband mount the buff photo (blown up to 5×7) and her autographed picture in a frame with a bright yellow matting and it hangs in my family room. I still giggle when I look at it. —Doris Clark

Okay, okay, kind of stalkerish. But had you been a truly hardcore fan, Doris, you would have had Kathy pee on her hand as well. Hey, it worked wonders for Dr. John Carroll.

My random celebrity encounter occurred last summer in San Antonio on a mission trip. We ended up eating dinner one night at the Hard Rock Café on the Riverwalk and had Nakomis from Big Brother 5 as our server. Being the huge Big Brother fan that I am, I recognized her instantly and had to keep myself from freaking out right there in public. No one else knew who she was so didn’t understand what the big deal was, but I was so excited. I got my picture taken with her and got to talk with her for a little bit about her life and such. It remains one of the highlights of my life, which is pretty sad when you think about it, but I don’t care. I still treasure that picture and that moment in my heart. And I don’t care if that makes me a reality TV junkie!!! —Tad Hopp

Ah, Nakomis. I, too, would have bowed down at the altar of the six-finger-plan. Although I have to admit, it is a bit sad to hear that one of Big Brother‘s biggest geniuses is still waiting tables at a Hard Rock Café. Speaking of which, wasn’t she in the Big Brother: All-Stars house last summer? Did she clone herself or something, and if so, would that make it the seven-finger-plan? These are the things that keep me up at night.

What about you? Any good reality-TV star sightings? Have a favorite TV wife? And ladies, are you on Team Riggins or Team Street? Send your questions, comments, and quibbles to theglutton@ew.com, or just fill out the handy-dandy form below. See ya next week!